James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Panthers embrace 1,888 points with Jaromir Jagr Night on Jan. 6

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Plenty of people are congratulating Jaromir Jagr for the tremendous feat of becoming the NHL’s all-time second leading points producer. It only makes sense that the Florida Panthers will go all-out for him, too.

Specifically, the team is hosting “Jaromir Jagr Night” during their Jan. 6 game against the Nashville Predators.

Some of the planned stuff is pretty by-the-books, including the first 10,000 fans getting a commemorative t-shirt.

The fun stuff comes in thematic pricing based off of Jagr’s jersey number 68 and his 1,888 points:

Ticket offers for the evening are themed around Jagr’s 1,888th point and jersey number. Offers include an $18.88 upper goal zone offer and a $68.00 sideline and sideline premier offer that includes a $15 food and beverage credit.

Nice, right?

As you can see, a wide variety of people are rolling out the red carpet for the living legend. In case you missed it, enjoy this video of former competitors and current teammates congratulating him:

Heck, even the Pittsburgh Penguins seem like they’re going to play nice.

Anton Rodin finally set to debut for Canucks after long, winding road to NHL

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It’s a long time coming for Anton Rodin, who’s making his NHL debut for the Vancouver Canucks tonight.

Usually, PHT’s “Looking to make the Leap” feature is for players who can’t legally buy alcohol in the United States. Even taking NCAA-developed prospects into account, Anton Rodin was a relative graybeard for that off-season series.

(He was 25 at the time of that writing; he’s now 26.)

We’ve already seen one inspiring story of a 26-year-old making his NHL debut this week, but Rodin’s story is a little more complicated. As Jason Brough wrote, he seemed like a failed prospect (53rd pick of the 2009 NHL Draft) for the Canucks:

Most Canucks fans had already written off Anton Rodin. He was the guy who came to North America in 2011 and couldn’t even cut it in the AHL. Just another draft bust for an organization that’s had plenty of those in its history.

He showed some promise in Sweden, and even with knee issues really hampering his climb, Rodin finds himself here today. It should be fascinating to see what he can do against the Calgary Flames tonight.

Video: Rare fights for Mike Cammalleri, Jordan Staal

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Your mileage may vary, but from here, it’s often entertaining to see an infrequent fighter get into the occasional squabble.

It doesn’t hurt that, in most instances, that guy’s fighting because he actually wants to. It’s a little tougher to reconcile with the future implications of fighting for enforcers who drop the gloves several times per season.

But for those rare fighters, it can be kind of fun, at least if no one gets “hurt” beyond a bruise or bump here and there.

Thursday presented at least two rare fights, as Michael Cammalleri feuded with Nick Cousins as a part of a fairly nasty New Jersey Devils 4-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers.

(See video of that fight above.)

Hockey Fights’ listings indicates that the bout with Cousins was the third fight of Cammalleri’s career.

Meanwhile, Jordan Staal fought with Zach Bogosian during the Carolina Hurricanes’ 3-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres:

The two-way forward fights a bit more often, as this was his fifth according to Hockey Fights.

For a full list of Thursday’s feuds, click here.

Budaj gets fourth shutout of season for scrappy Kings

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) A road game for Nic Dowd definitely had a home feeling to it.

Peter Budaj made 28 saves and Dowd, a Huntsville, Alabama native, scored to lead the Los Angeles Kings to a 4-0 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

Nick Shore, Jeff Carter and Devin Setoguchi also scored for Los Angeles. Playing the sixth of their season-long nine-game road swing, the Kings improved their record to 3-2-1 on the current trip.

Budaj made 12 saves in the first period, nine in the second and seven in the third en route to his fourth shutout of the season and 15th of his career.

“I felt good tonight, I was seeing the puck well,” Budaj said. “The guys were doing a great job blocking shots. It always helps because Nashville is known for getting shots from the point and then trying to jam the net and just try to get the second, third opportunities. We eliminated that.”

Pekka Rinne made 21 saves for Nashville, which had a two-game winning streak come to an end.

“I definitely think that from a consistency standpoint, it needs to be better,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “Win two, lose two, win two, lose one, win one, lose three – you’re going nowhere in mud really quick. We’ve got to string something together.”

The Kings have not allowed a power-play goal in eight consecutive games. In killing off three Nashville power plays, Los Angeles allowed just three shots on goal in the 6 minutes they were shorthanded.

“We’re limiting the number of penalties that we take, (that) obviously helps, two or three a game,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “We have good centermen that are pretty good penalty killers. There’s no secret to it.”

Shore scored the game’s first goal at 6:33 of the opening period.

Jordan Nolan carried the puck into the low slot and sent a pass to Shore in the right faceoff circle. Shore attempted to pass it back to Nolan, but the puck deflected off the stick of Nashville’s Mike Ribeiro and past Rinne.

The score remained 1-0 into the third, when Dowd and Carter scored 9 seconds apart.

Dowd, who grew up 100 miles south of Nashville, connected from the left faceoff circle at 4:25 with a wrist shot that squeezed just underneath Rinne’s leg pad.

Several of Dowd’s family members made the short trip north to see him play his first-ever NHL game in Nashville.

“Minus the goal, I think just playing here in general, I was just excited to be around my family and get to see them after,” Dowd said. “Very few times all five of them, six of them are going to be able to see me play at once.”

After winning the ensuing faceoff against Ribeiro, Carter carried the puck down the right side and snapped a shot by Rinne for his team-leading 17th goal of the season.

Carter has 25 points in 24 career games against Nashville.

“There are some things we can do better defensively too,” Predators defenseman Roman Josi said. “Like tonight in the third, we definitely left (Rinne) hanging back there, but I think it’s a big thing from the start. We’ve got to go and try to get the first goal and win the game. The game is so much easier when you have that lead, you’re playing with the momentum and everything. We’ve got to make sure we do that.”

Setoguchi connected at 11:39 of the third off a nice pass from Kings captain Anze Kopitar just outside Rinne’s crease.

The assist was Kopitar’s 700th career NHL point.

Notes: Predators D P.K. Subban missed his fourth consecutive game with an upper-body injury. . Nashville C Calle Jarnkrok played in his 200th career NHL game. … Budaj is 9-5-0 in his career against Nashville. . The Kings are 11-1-1 when leading after two periods this season.

UP NEXT:

Kings: Travel to Dallas on Friday

Predators: Face Minnesota at home on Tuesday

Video: Luongo (and Ekblad’s eye) steal the show in giving Jagr congrats

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He stumbled over the punchline ever so slightly, but leave it to Roberto Luongo to provide the funniest part of a video of various NHL personalities congratulating Jaromir Jagr for passing Mark Messier as the NHL’s all-time second leading point scorer.

(Click here for that moment.)

The video’s a great watch, as you can see Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky (plus Wayne Gretzky’s Christmas tree) provide their hearty congratulations to a great “ambassador for the game.”

Let’s be honest, Aaron Ekblad‘s terminator eye might have been what actually stole the show.

Jagr’s reached that status where the praise is also accompanied by good-natured ribbing, seen in spots like NHL.com’s “Mullet Meter.” Here’s what Jagr had to say about hitting 1,888 points:

You know it’s a big deal when other sports teams also throw out their congrats: