James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Fight: Pavelski vs. Johansen; Not much fight: Predators against Sharks

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The Nashville Predators’ 5-5-2 record isn’t pretty, and their effort in a 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks wasn’t so pretty either.

Nashville couldn’t get much going against the Sharks tonight, who improved to 7-5-0 on the season. The two teams combined for just 48 shots on goal, so it’s not surprising that a fight and a debatable hit ended up stealing the show.

(You could safely use the eye-roller “These teams don’t like each other” with this one, too, as there were 12 power plays and 54 total hits. Maybe it’s fitting that Joe Thornton ended a milestone night where he scored his 1,400th point [on an assist, of course] by getting thrown from the fray.)

The Predators and Sharks were already playing a physical game, but things started to get nasty when Ryan Johansen hurt Marc-Edouard Vlasic. We’ll see if anything comes of this beyond the contest; in the moment Johansen merely received a boarding minor:

Actually, something did come of it, as Johansen and Joe Pavelski engaged in a rare fight later in the third period:

NBC Sports California’s Brodie Brazil notes that it kind of looked like a pro wrestling move happened during the fight:

This continues the recent trend of WWE-inspired bouts, as Kevin Bieksa delivered a “superman punch” that would have made Roman Reigns proud in a recent fight.

Indeed, that run of violence overshadowed much of the play.

It’s up to the Predators to bring the spotlight back to the scoreboard, as so far they’re struggling with Ryan Ellis on the shelf and bigger targets on their backs.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Nashville Predators at San Jose Sharks

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With Philadelphia Flyers at Chicago Blackhawks winding down (stream here), NBCSN’s doubleheader closes out with an interesting test as the Nashville Predators visit the San Jose Sharks.

The Western Conference’s last two Stanley Cup Final representatives are off to up-and-down starts to 2017-18, so they’ll both want to get things going at their opponents’ expense. There should be plenty of fun players to watch, too, from Filip Forsberg and P.K. Subban taking on Brent Burns and Joe Thornton, among many other key actors.

Along with tuning in on NBCSN, you can watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Also, for a preview of this game, check out this post.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Corey Crawford dominates as Blackhawks blank Flyers

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Heading into Wednesday’s game, Corey Crawford‘s hot start to 2017-18 might have been slipping under the radar.

The Philadelphia Flyers are probably painfully aware now, if they weren’t already. Crawford was dazzling on Wednesday, stopping all 35 shots on goal as the Chicago Blackhawks won 3-0.

Again, this wasn’t Crawford’s first strong performance of the season. It was, however, his first shutout of this campaign. He came into the night with an already-stellar .935 save percentage, quietly cleaning up messes and maybe even obscuring at least a portion of Chicago’s rather worrisome issues on defense.

With a .918 career save percentage, Crawford probably already ranks as underrated, but he’s been so strong during the past few seasons that he deserves to get more “elite” mentions that he receives. Wednesday serves as a big, flashing arrow to that point.

The Blackhawks improve to 6-5-2 on the season, and there were some positives, including Jonathan Toews breaking a short slump with a breakaway goal against Brian Elliott:

Still, there were plenty of opportunities for the Flyers, even beyond that high shot count. Eddie Olczyk noted at least seven odd-man rushes during the contest, and there were some dangerous opportunities for the likes of surging Flyers scorer Sean Couturier.

Either way, the Blackhawks will take it. After a 4-1-1 start, Chicago was reeling, having gone 1-4-1 before tonight’s win. They face a challenging weekend back-to-back and then take on the Flyers in Philly in eight days.

The Flyers have to be at least a little frustrated, as they’re slipping a bit in their own right. This defeat leaves them 1-3-1 in their last five games. They merely tied Chicago with 35 shots on goal apiece, so they probably want to do a little work in their own end, too.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Video: Who might play for USA Hockey with 2018 Winter Olympics looming

It’s hard to believe that the 2018 Winter Olympics are only 100 days away.

With a bit more than three months to go, there were some pertinent videos from NBC/NBCSN regarding USA Hockey’s two teams. The first video, seen above this post’s headline, provides some neat background on Hilary Knight as part of the women’s national team appearance on “The Today Show.”

While Knight & Co. hope to improve on that silver in 2014 to gold in 2018, the men’s team faces the most unpredictable tournament in ages. One big part of that uncertainty comes down to the makeup of the roster, which Darren Dreger discussed on NBCSN tonight:

Dreger mentions a few possible members of the men’s team in the video above:

  • Mark Arcobello, 29, likely most well-known for his time with the Edmonton Oilers.
  • Matt Gilroy, 33, who spent time with the New York Rangers.
  • NCAA standouts, some of whom are NHL prospects, including Troy Terry (Anaheim Ducks), and Ryan Donato (Boston Bruins).

The biggest name Dreger brings up is actually for Canada’s team, though, as it sounds like Jarome Iginla might just suit up for his country one more time.

Those videos aren’t the only worthwhile considerations for patriotic puckheads. Check out this PHT post to take a look at the spiffy uniforms that Team USA will sport. (What, you want one too?)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Report: Golden Knights were nearby when New York attack happened

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Darren Dreger noted on NBCSN tonight that members of the Vegas Golden Knights organization were staying at a nearby hotel when the New York City terrorist attack took place.

Dreger described the situation, as you can see in the video above, revealing that staff members even witnessed some of the events.

(You can read more about the attacks at NBC News.)

As the AP reports, the Golden Knights were delayed on their way to Madison Square Garden before their eventual loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday. Before that contest, the Rangers held a moment of silence at MSG:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.