James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Bob keeps robbing: Sergei Bobrovsky pitches third straight shutout

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The New Jersey Devils shouldn’t beat themselves up too much; few opponents are having any luck against Sergei Bobrovsky lately.

The red-hot Russian accomplished another first in Columbus Blue Jackets history on Tuesday, grabbing a third consecutive shutout at home as Columbus beat New Jersey 2-0.

That factoid might seem a bit on the highly specific side, but three straight shutouts is impressive anyway you slice such an accomplishment.

This also marks the second consecutive time that Bobrovsky blanked the Devils, although this time he had to work much harder, making 33 stops. “Bob” also fattened his franchise record for wins in a single season, grabbing his 35th.

Along with those 35 wins, Bobrovsky has six shutouts in 2016-17 and continues to build his argument in the increasingly crowded Vezina race.

From the look of things, Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets might set some other franchise records by the time they hit game 82.

Those 90 points place the Blue Jackets alone at second in the hotly contested Metro, at least for now.

Ho-Sang scores first NHL goal, now you can compare it to Lemieux’s (Video)

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Some people are annoyed that New York Islanders forward Joshua Ho-Sang is wearing 66, the same number that Mario Lemieux made famous. Others are annoyed that people are annoyed.

So, with Ho-Sang scoring his first NHL goal on Tuesday, the only mature thing to do would be to allow those people to argue about the situation again. It’s a public service, really.

Ho-Sang wasn’t able to score his first goal in his first shift in his first game. Instead, it happened late in the first period of his fourth game. Still pretty good.

Here’s the tally off a howling shot:

And here’s an inevitable (and quite-solid) joke about it all.

Now, enjoy Mario Lemieux’s famous “first shift, first game, first goal,” for needless comparison’s sake. Have fun.

Video: Jack Eichel gets 100th point with goal

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The Philadelphia Flyers hold a 4-2 lead against the Buffalo Sabres heading into the third period, but don’t blame Jack Eichel.

He came into tonight with 98 points in his promising NHL career; with a goal and an assist through the first 40 minutes, he’s now at 100 points in 127 games (with a period to add more).

You can see the power-play tally (his 41st career goal) in the video above, while he assisted on Evander Kane‘s power-play tally for point 99 (and assist 59):

In case you’re into comparing Eichel and Connor McDavid in every situation, check out No. 100 for No. 97 from mid-January.

Eichel ended up scoring another goal for his 101st career point, but Philly won 6-3, so he wasn’t very pumped.

Bettman to Arizona reps: ‘Coyotes cannot and will not remain in Glendale’

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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman wrote a letter to Arizona lawmakers pledging support for Arizona Senate Bill 1149, stating his belief that it would be key in “the NHL’s commitment to keeping the Arizona Coyotes in the Greater Phoenix market.”

The juicier stuff comes a few paragraphs later.

” … Let me be abundantly clear: the Coyotes’ current location in Glendale at Gila River Arena is not economically capable of supporting a successful NHL franchise.”

The underline was Bettman’s emphasis, not that of PHT. The letter then puts this portion in bold, and it’s easy to see why:

The simple truth? The Arizona Coyotes must have a new arena location to succeed. The Coyotes cannot and will not remain in Glendale.

Well then.

Sportsnet’s John Shannon caught up with a league source who maybe dulls certain dreams of a more dramatic relocation, or at least delays such thoughts:

If you’ve been following along through the twists and turns of the Coyotes’ arena situation, you know that this is the discordant song that never ends. So it’s no surprise to see a prediction of a solution taking “years.” Many of us are starting to assume that it may span our lifetimes or even generations.

This follows bad news about arena financing back in late February, while Bettman echoes strongly worded messages from ownership to Arizona politicians from back in last May. Beyond that … well, this stuff has been going on forever.

Even if some of this feels like old hat (like a beat-up baseball player’s crusty cap, honestly), it’s startling to see such resoundingly direct language used when dry legalese would normally do.

You can read more about Bettman’s reasoning, including repeated statements about things not working out with Glendale, in the letter.

Fight video: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare vs. Nicolas Deslauriers

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The Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers will need a spark if they hope to make a playoff push. Getting the win would be the best way to do it, but maybe a fight will get things moving?

Either way, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Nicolas Deslauriers engaged in a pretty solid bout during Tuesday’s game on NBCSN. It wasn’t a marathon like Tanner Glass’ recent showcase against Luke Witkowski, yet it’s still worth a watch.

Deslauriers also worked the crowd going afterward: