James O'Brien

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

Lightning win another heated affair with Red Wings


When it comes to budding NHL rivalries, don’t sleep on the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning.

On a night where the Capitals and Penguins are really slugging it out, the Bolts and Red Wings reminded hockey fans of their mutual disdain, as well. Ultimately, the Lightning came out on top 6-4 thanks in large part to a red-hot power play, but it was an adventure all around.

The anger spilled over during moments like these:

That wasn’t the only moment of nastiness by any stretch:

The Lightning must be pleased to win a game in which they had some sloppy moments. Thomas Vanek took advantage of a mishap on his way to two early goals, and the Red Wings once had a 3-1 lead.

Ben Bishop also allowed arguably the oddest goal so far in this young 2016-17 season:

The Lightning scored six of the games last eight goals, with two power-play markers coming in the third period. Jonathan Drouin had himself quite a night, assisting on Alex Killorn‘s game-winner, scoring on the PP and looking like the dangerous threat he was in the playoffs.

The Red Wings made it tough for them – once again – but ultimately the Lightning secured a season-opening win.

Marchand, Backes carry Bruins to comeback win


Heading into Game 1, a lot of people were wondering about the contract numbers for Brad Marchand and David Backes. For at least one night, they made people focus on their numbers on the ice.

The makeshift trio of Backes, Marchand and David Pastrnak powered the Boston Bruins’ 6-3 comeback victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.

It’s almost hard to believe that Columbus held a 3-1 lead during the contest.

Just look at the numbers that trio put up:

Marchand: two goals, three assists
Pastrnak: two goals, two assists
Backes: two goals, one assist

Yes, Pastrnak inflated things a touch with an empty-netter, but it was a dominant performance.

Fresh off a beefy contract extension and an impressive showing in the World Cup of Hockey, Marchand was especially dominant on opening night.

Stephanie “My Regular Face” shared a GIF with the overhead view of maybe his best moment:


The Bruins have a long way to go before they silence some critics and return to the playoffs, but they got off to the right foot tonight, and they did it thanks to two of their most expensive pieces.

Evander Kane hospitalized after scary fall


Update: The Buffalo Sabres announced that Evander Kane has been hospitalized for “further evaluation and precautionary measures.”


The Buffalo Sabres are suffering from some brutal injury luck early in the season.

Jack Eichel is already slated to miss at least a month, and now the Sabres have to be concerned about the health of Evander Kane thanks to a nasty, unlucky fall against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

Kane went sprawling into the boards after bumping into Alexei Emelin, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. He needed help off of the ice:

Could that be a break? It at least looked awful, but we’ll need to wait and see how things shake out. Maybe it looked worse than it actually was.

Ouch, Sabres now expect Eichel to miss 6-8 weeks


Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray’s updated recovery window for Jack Eichel makes an unfortunate situation that much gloomier.

Murray places the time frame at six-to-eight weeks, according to reporters including NHL.com’s Amalie Benjamin. A day ago, reports were in the more optimistic four-to-six week range.

That might not seem like a big deal, but a couple weeks could make a big difference for a team hoping to make a difficult step forward like Buffalo.

WGR’s Paul Hamilton reports that Murray isn’t working the phones to make a trade in reaction to Eichel’s absence … yet. He wants to see how the Sabres fare without Eichel first.

This moment from tonight’s game seems less comical now (after getting some Twitter laughs):

Hey, Tim Murray, at least you signed a contract extension today, right?

Florida Panthers pay tribute to Jose Fernandez


The Florida Panthers are doing their part to honor the memory of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez.

The entire team wore Fernandez 16 jerseys before their season-opening game against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.

It was a heartfelt tribute to an athlete who made an impression on the Panthers organization:

Happily, this isn’t just about an already-great gesture, as the team raised $35K in Fernandez’s name:

The Panthers aren’t the only local team outside of baseball paying tribute to Fernandez. The Miami Heat made similar gestures recently.

Check out their official feed for other great stuff, including shots like these.