James O'Brien

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

Burns’ center-ice goal part of Isles’ turkey-legged loss to Sharks


Friday cemented two things in one game in San Jose: life is good for Brent Burns, and pretty miserable for the New York Islanders right now.

The Sharks beat the Islanders 3-2, but the way they won really dug the knife in.

It would be one thing if the only lowlight came when Thomas Greiss allowed a center-ice goal against his former team, via Burns (fresh off his eight-year, $64 million extension):

As you can see from the video, the Sharks had just finished celebrating a 1-1 goal when that Burns blooper made it 2-1. Sudden drops in spirit were a theme of this one for the Islanders, as Nick Leddy tied things up with just under a minute remaining in the third period, only for Patrick Marleau to end the game in regulation thanks to a goal with just 23 seconds left.


Naturally, the primary assist went to Burns. Is a fun quote like this going to make any Islanders fans feel better?

“Big to get a win after Thanksgiving,” Burns said, according to the Mercury News’ Curtis Pashelka. “You worry if the legs are going to show up, or if the turkey’s going to show up.”

/nods head at Burns’ bearded Buddha wisdom.

With this win, the Sharks continue their streaky stretch. They’ve won three in a row, dropped three, won another three, lost three more and are now on another three-game winning streak since Oct. 25.

Meanwhile, the Islanders’ nightmare continues. Looking at a similar time period, the Isles are 3-7-4 since Oct. 26. They’ve only managed two wins in November.

About the only thing they can be thankful for is that their California road trip is over.

(And even then, we might hear about the ice issues again. Poor Islanders.)

Wild really came to play vs. Pens on Black Friday


It’s been touch-and-go for the Minnesota Wild, but they’ve been a powerhouse in their limited reps against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They might even be sad that they swept their season series on Black Friday.

In today’s case, it was a 6-2 shellacking.

Both teams fired the puck a ton, accounting for 36 shots on goal apiece. It was the Wild who connected on the most, obviously, including a special teams advantage that was most obvious. While Pittsburgh went 0-for-3 on the power play, Minnesota connected on three of four.

Charlie Coyle generated two goals while both Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund enjoyed one-goal, one-assist outputs.

Perhaps it’s a confidence-builder for a Wild team that, for all the good they’ve done (they’re a respectable 11-7-2), they’ve drawn Bruce Boudreau’s ire for struggling to score.

“It’s nice to score more than two goals, more than three goals,” Boudreau said after the win.

They’ve been able to do that against the Penguins, if nothing else. They generated a 10-4 edge in two wins against the defending champions.

Stifling Senators push Bruins out of East’s top eight


It’s probably not accurate to say that the Ottawa Senators beat the Boston Bruins at their own game on Thanksgiving night.

In a 3-1 win, perhaps it’s correct to say that the Senators beat the Bruins at their old game?

Either way, the Senators stifled the Bruins for much of the contest, holding Boston to just 20 shots on goal and fighting back from a 1-0 deficit.

“We’ve been a better team than that,” Claude Julien said after the game, calling the loss one of the Bruins’ worst recent efforts.

One could assume that it stings a little more considering the Bruins’ current place in the East rankings. As CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty notes, if the playoffs began today, Boston would be in an uncomfortably familiar spot: right outside the playoffs.

The Senators, meanwhile, are starting to pick up their play thanks to goals like these:

Canadiens’ home dominance trumps Hurricanes’ winning streak


With a five-game winning streak, the Carolina Hurricanes came into Montreal as one of the hottest teams in the NHL. They weren’t hot enough to beat the Canadiens at home with Carey Price in net, though.

The Habs are now a ridiculous 12-1-1 at home (and an impressive 15-4-2 overall) after slipping by the Hurricanes by a score of 2-1 on Thursday.

Carolina generated a 32-22 shots on goal advantage during the game, putting the heat on Price late in the third period in particular. Only an attempt like this could be the all-world goalie:

That lead would only last about a minute and a half, however, as Andrew Shaw tied it up and Max Pacioretty eventually scored the game-winner.

The Hurricanes and Cam Ward are still building some nice momentum; their five-game winning streak included home victories against the Capitals, Sharks and, yes, the Canadiens. They just couldn’t quite get past the Canadiens in Montreal.

Video: Karlsson’s shot was bad news for Dzingel’s ear

As far as we can tell, Ryan Dzingel is OK after taking an errant shot to the head from Ottawa Senators teammate Erik Karlsson on Thursday.

Update: Dzingel was eventually able to make it back onto the ice for Ottawa. At the moment, it sounds like he might shake this off.

The Boston Bruins currently lead the Senators 1-0 through the first period thanks to a goal by returning forward David Pastrnak:

Gruesome update: So, uh, yikes: