James O'Brien

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

Dubnyk vs. Price was far from a goalie duel as Wild humble Habs

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On paper, Thursday’s Montreal Canadiens – Minnesota Wild game looked like it could be a Vezina finalist battle between Carey Price and Devan Dubnyk. Instead, it seemed to highlight the distance between the two goalies and teams.

For just the fifth time in his career, Price allowed 7 goals as the Wild just kept scoring and scoring. Tomas Plekanec played the shutout spoiler for Dubnyk, but a 7-1 win was still an emphatic statement by the blazing-hot Wild.

(It turns out Eric Staal‘s strong play and the two goals in 39 seconds was just part of the story.)

On one hand, Montreal was closing off a back-to-back set with their own seven-goal win from Wednesday. Also, nights like these are rare for Price:

On the other, this hasn’t been the only night that Price has struggled lately.

Price has given up 14 goals in his last three games and has allowed at least four tallies five times since Dec. 16. You can slice it up plenty of other ways, but things haven’t been going smoothly in recent weeks.

As this post notes, things have gone just about the opposite way for Staal, Dubnyk and the Wild. With three points on Thursday, Eric Staal now has 38 points in 40 games. Dubnyk fell short of his sixth shutout of 2016-17, but he’s still on fire, and the Wild are now on a 14-1-1 run since Dec. 4.

Wow.

Chalk it up to Dubnyk, that underrated offense, Bruce Boudreau or some combination of those factors, but maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised by tonight’s result. Then again, does a 7-1 outcome ever feel normal?

Certainly not for a team with Price on it.

Nathan MacKinnon reminds us that he’s crazy-fast, too (Video)

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Deep down, you have to wonder if Nathan MacKinnon‘s a little jealous.

There was a time early in his career where he dominated highlight reels with displays of his ability to pair blazing speed with high-end skill. Those elements remain, but he’s been upstaged on a regular basis by even-more-renowned top pick Connor McDavid.

(Heck, sometimes even less-hyped players like Phillip Danault steal the show.)

Yeah, things haven’t been as bright for MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche lately, with people even wondering how limited MacKinnon might end up being by underwhelming shooting rates. Thursday presented a reminder for why people were so excited about the Avs forward in the first place, though, as he caught multiple Anaheim Ducks flat-footed* for the beautiful goal you can see in the video above.

* – Caught them web-footed, maybe?

Video: Oilers did a nice job in Taylor Hall’s return to Edmonton

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There may still be some mixed feelings between Taylor Hall and his former team, but hand it to the Oilers for providing a great tribute to his time with Edmonton in his return tonight.

As you can see from the video above, fans gave him a nice ovation and the team acknowledged his charitable work in the area during his six seasons with the team.

Maybe the on-ice work didn’t pan out like many hoped, but he was a big part of the team, and the Oilers acknowledged it.

Want more? This is pretty good stuff, too:

For those who believe that the New Jersey Devils got the best of that Adam Larsson deal in particular, tonight’s probably a somewhat awkward night. At least the Oilers handled this part of the process splendidly, however.

Video: Wild scores twice in 39 seconds, Eric Staal stays red-hot

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This post includes two goals in one clip, so here are two different thoughts that might slip a bit under the radar:

1. The Eric Staal signing is looking like a smash success for the Minnesota Wild.

2. Things are not going well for Carey Price lately, even as the Montreal Canadiens are often finding ways to win anyway.

Staal scored his 14th goal of 2016-17 and second point of the night when he beat Price for the 2-0 goal. Just 39 seconds later, Jordan Schroeder made it 3-0.

The second period ended with a late Nino Niederreiter tally, making it 4-0 for Minnesota and making one wonder if the Habs will decide to take Price out of the contest.

Again, this continues a rare trend of shaky play by the all-world goalie:

Meanwhile, the elder Staal is on fire.

He has a period to add to tonight’s totals, but even if he doesn’t, he now has three goals and four assists for seven points during a four-game point streak. He now has 37 points in 40 games.

Not bad for a guy many questioned could even be a viable top center in the NHL any longer.

Chaotic Bruins – Predators game also has this brutal McQuaid fight

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At this point, coaches of the Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators might as well keep their speeches to “Stay safe.”

It’s been a pretty wild one so far, with Tuukka Rask possibly being injured by a Roman Josi shot and then Josi being shaken up by a huge, late hit.

Why not throw a pretty awe-inspiring fight into this motley mix, then?

Adam McQuaid took down Derek Grant in a truly brutal bout. Just, yikes:

(Full video of the fight to come.)