James O'Brien

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

Twitter has a good laugh at iPhone being used during Parise goal review

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Making fun of goal reviews is practically a pastime on Twitter at this point, but Zach Parise‘s eventual 2-2 goal between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild was one of the more amusing and noteworthy recent examples.

(Granted, Blackhawks players, fans and executives probably aren’t too amused. Maybe in time?)

Officials went through goal review process for a long time trying to determine if the play was onside, ultimately determining that it was inconclusive. Plenty of people believe that it was conclusively offside, however.

The fun stuff really came from an official seemingly using his iPhone during the process, likely consulting the war room in Toronto.

People giggled and were merry at this unusual moment.

This was a goldmine for the Xcel Energy Center crew, which played a dial tone along with the expected long review drops, such as the “Jeopardy” theme.

Did the league get it wrong? Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman went into detail on the subject, but others are convinced that the goal shouldn’t count.

Update: The NHL’s Situation Room Blog provides the following update (bolded by the league, by the way).

Review was not conclusive in determining whether Parise had had tagged up at the instant the puck touched Charlie Coyle‘s stick. According to Rule 78.7, “If a review is not conclusive and/or there is any doubt whatsoever as to whether the call on the ice was correct, the On-Ice Official(s) will be instructed to confirm their original call.” 

Handicapping the Central Division title race between Wild, Blackhawks

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The Minnesota Wild have a chance to increase an already solid lead for the Central Division crown if they can beat the Chicago Blackhawks in a game being televised on NBCSN tonight. (They couldn’t, as the Blackhawks won 4-3 in overtime.)

Really, though, the next month presents quite the opportunity to fatten that edge.

With that being the only game on Wednesday, this seems like a worthwhile time to take a look at the bigger pictures facing each team. Here are the full Central Division standings heading into tonight’s game to add some context:

Central Division standings, now updated with Chicago’s OT win

1. Wild – 76 points in 53 games
2. Blackhawks – 71 points in 55 GP
3. Predators – 60 in 53 GP

Blues – 59 in 54 GP
Jets – 54 in 56 GP
Stars – 52 in 54 GP
Avalanche – 32 in 50 GP

Yes, there’s a chance a team like the Predators or Blues could figure into the conversation, but honestly even the Blackhawks have quite a bit of ground to make up to catch Minnesota.

Looking at their schedules really cements the notion that Bruce Boudreau’s crew could essentially silence the discussion with a strong month.

Opportunities ahead for the Wild

  • Tonight’s game against the Blackhawks begins an eight-game homestand for Minnesota. The Wild are less dependent upon winning at home (17-6-1 in Minnesota, 18-6-5 on the road), but it’s still a great chance to stock up points.

Minnesota will host the Blackhawks twice during this eight-game homestand and could also distance themselves from other Central opponents with a home contest against each of the Predators and Stars.

  • While February presents opportunities, the Wild start off March with more road games. From Feb. 28 – March 19, the Wild play eight of 11 contests away from Minny.
  • The Wild end the season with some solid chances to end the debate. They play five of six in Minnesota from March 21-30 and seven of nine at home from March 21 through April 4.
  • Finally, they end the season with two road games. Those games are against the Avalanche (April 6) and Coyotes (April 8), two teams that will likely have very little to play for.

Overall, it seems like a pretty beneficial schedule for the Wild’s aims. Let’s see how things look for Chicago.

Blackhawks are resilient so far on the road

  • The Blackhawks began this current six-game road trip with a 3-1 loss to the Sharks on Jan. 31. They’ve won the next three contests of that tour, so they’ve been carving out those difficult points.
  • This six-game trip ends with a back-to-back set on the weekend. Counting Wednesday’s game, Chicago faces five of their next six games away from the United Center.
  • As things get tougher for the Wild at the end of February/beginning of March, the Blackhawks enjoy a friendlier stretch. The Blackhawks play four in a row, five of six and six of eight at home from Feb. 23 through March 12.
  • After that, it’s back-and-forth. They play three games on the road (March 14-18), three at home (March 19-23), three on the road (March 25-29), two home games (March 31 and April 2) and then close things out with three away games. They face the Avalanche in that closing set, but also the Ducks and Kings.

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So, you can see that things go both ways, but the Wild generally seem to have a more favorable schedule. At least on paper.

With the additional benefit of two games in hand, one would say that the Wild have the edge … but it would be foolish to count out the Blackhawks.

McKenzie on coaching in the NHL: Who’s on the hot seat, who wants Julien?

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With Jack Capuano, Ken Hitchcock and Claude Julien all out of jobs fairly recently, it sure feels like NHL coaches are dropping like flies.

It’s also worth wondering if there will be a domino effect: will more heads roll? Could those available coaches – also including Gerard Gallant from earlier this season – make teams more willing to part with there current bench bosses?

NHL Insider Bob McKenzie stopped by NBCSN to dish on a wide variety of subjects on Wednesday, with coaching talk ranking among the most interesting tidbits.

Bruins and Claude Julien

To start things off, McKenzie notes that interim Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will seemingly get a real shot to drop that “interim” from his title, though he’ll need to produce results.

The juicier stuff is about Claude Julien, though.

While McKenzie notes that official permission hasn’t necessarily been asked for interviews in either cases, he notes that both the Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers are likely to chat with Julien. At the moment, with Doug Weight doing well in Brooklyn, the New York Islanders are unlikely to chase him.

These situations are subject to change, of course.

Which coaches should sweat the hot seat?

Naturally, when a coach gets fired – and particularly when some big names fall in quick succession – the question is “Who’s next?”

McKenzie wonders about Lindy Ruff and the Dallas Stars, particularly because the team hasn’t handed the veteran head coach a contract extension just yet. That doesn’t mean that the guillotine is hovering over his head, but Ruff might at least be in a little danger.

As far as Paul Maurice of the Winnipeg Jets and Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning go, McKenzie hypothesizes that each coach is safe for now.

That said, time and losing streaks can change these matters. For more, check out McKenzie with Liam McHugh:

Video: Duncan Keith’s only goal is to win another Stanley Cup

It doesn’t happen often, but the Chicago Blackhawks fell in the first round in the 2016 postseason, a bitter defeat for Duncan Keith and the highly successful core of this team.

Tonight’s rivalry night matchup against the Minnesota Wild seems like a good time to revisit those losses, some of Chicago’s best successes and what it might take to get back there, as the Wild stand as a significant hurdle in the Blackhawks’ path.

At least, the Wild certainly seem that way right now, even if they’re deferential to the established Blackhawks.

Check out Keith’s thoughts in the video above this post’s headline.

WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Wild – Wednesday Night Rivalry

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The Minnesota Wild haven’t been able to match – let alone pass – the Chicago Blackhawks since they became bigger spenders and hopeful contenders in the Central Division and Western Conference.

Is that all changing this season?

The Wild certainly seem as legitimate as they’ve ever been with Bruce Boudreau steering the ship. Young players seem like they’re reaching potential like never before, and even some old faces are suddenly looking fresher, including Jason Pominville and Eric Staal.

Can they shake the Blackhawks this season, though? Nights like these will help build arguments one way or another as the top two teams in the Central square off on Wednesday Rivalry Night on NBCSN.

Watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream.