James O'Brien

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

Video: Kings celebrate Vachon making Hall of Fame

The Los Angeles Kings celebrated the 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame induction of former goalie Rogie Vachon during Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

(Vachon’s class also included Eric Lindros, Sergei Makarov and Pat Quinn.)

You can watch the great video the team put together for Vachon below. Do note that it’s been quite the fantastic week for the former netminder.

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    Goalie nods: Pickard gets chance to impress for the Avs


    The Colorado Avalanche needs something – anything – to start putting some wins together. At best, they’ve been mediocre this season, and Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog won’t save the day on Saturday.

    In recent years, Colorado’s best moments have almost always been authored by goalies, particularly Semyon Varlamov.

    Unfortunately for the Avs, Varlamov hasn’t really gotten on track in 2016-17. It makes you wonder: should Calvin Pickard (five games played) be getting more of an equal share of the starts (Varlamov’s received 12)?

    That argument seemed especially strong after Pickard generated a three-game winning streak to start the season, but his appearances were still spread out over significant stretches of time. Allowing four goals in a loss to the Coyotes on Nov. 8 didn’t help matters, either.

    Maybe Saturday is the chance he’s been waiting for … one that could even get him into more games?

    Devan Dubnyk looks set to play in the Minnesota Wild’s net, and in case you’ve missed it, he’s been one of the hottest goalies not named Tuukka Rask or Carey Price.

    Sure sounds like an interesting “sink or swim” challenge, doesn’t it?

    Around the league …

    Devils: Cory Schneider vs. Kings: Peter Budaj

    Maple Leafs: Frederik Andersen vs. Canadiens: (probably) Carey Price

    Panthers: Most likely Roberto Luongo vs. Senators: Craig Anderson

    Best guesses – Oilers: Cam Talbot vs. Stars: Kari Lehtonen

    Penguins: possibly Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Sabres: Anders Nilsson

    Jets: Mike Hutchinson vs. Bruins (likely) Tuukka Rask

    Predators: Probably Pekka Rinne vs. Blues: Jake Allen

    Sharks: Likely Martin Jones vs. Coyotes: Mike Smith

    Blackhaws: Possibly Scott Darling vs. Canucks: Jacob Markstrom

    Lightning (mostly?) avoid injuries, freeze out Flyers


    For a moment on Saturday, it seemed like the Tampa Bay Lightning’s injury luck might go from awful to downright disastrous.

    There’s a possibility that he’ll have a setback anyway, but at the moment, the Lightning are breathing a sigh of relief after seeing Jonathan Drouin return to the ice after being shaken up by a Brayden Schenn hit.

    You can see that check, which made agent Allan Walsh upset, in the video above this post’s headline.

    Either way, supplemental discipline seems unlikely.

    It’s been a black-and-blue game for the Lightning overall, as it seemed like Ryan Callahan was hurt, yet he also came back.

    Even with returns, Tampa Bay will likely monitor Drouin, Callahan and others for possible issues. Brayden Point may also be injured and Cedric Paquette was noticeably bothered by a blocked shot, among other concerns.

    (Point returned to the game with a cage and a bloodied face.)

    So … yeah, this could still be a costly afternoon contest, but right now file these worries under bullets dodged. Or “just a flesh wound.”

    The Flyers aren’t leaving the game unscathed, either, as Chris VandeVelde won’t return to the contest after suffering an upper-body injury.

    Update: Drouin ended up scoring a beautiful 3-0 goal as the Lightning beat the Flyers by that score on Saturday.

    Ailing Avalanche won’t have Duchene, Landeskog on Saturday

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    Things have been a little better since we last checked in on the Colorado Avalanche, but it’s basically just been an improvement from bad to just “meh.”

    To be fair, it’s a little tougher to battle your way out of mediocrity without key players, yet that’ll be the case as they face the Minnesota Wild without Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene on Saturday.

    There have been rumblings here and there that Duchene might return a few times lately. Instead, he’s missed four straight games because of a concussion.

    Landeskog’s dealing with a lower-body injury that prompted him to stay in Denver for treatment – rather than traveling with the team – according to the Denver Post.

    The Wild might not have Zach Parise in their lineup, on the other hand, so Colorado’s unlikely to get much sympathy tonight.


    Pastrnak to miss another Bruins game with upper-body injury


    For the second straight game, the Boston Bruins will be without the services of rising star forward David Pastrnak.

    The team labels Pastrnak’s injury as upper-body-related. Claude Julien describes Pastrnak as day-to-day and notes that he’s expected to skate by himself on Saturday.

    That certainly stings for a Bruins offense that occasionally seems a little top-heavy, especially since they’re facing the high-powered Winnipeg Jets tonight.