James O'Brien

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

Bruins’ Ryan Spooner out indefinitely with concussion


The Boston Bruins announced some unfortunate news on Tuesday: Ryan Spooner is out indefinitely with a concussion.

Spooner had generated 10 points in his last 13 games, even showing some early chemistry on a third line with Frank Vatrano and Drew Stafford. CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty also notes that Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy had just spoken glowingly about the Bruins’ good health of late.

“Full health is important this time of year. You want to field your best lineup as much as possible, and to have depth to move guys in and out of the lineup to create some competition, which is good,” Cassidy said. “When guys know they have nobody pushing them to get in the lineup, you would hope they wouldn’t get comfortable, but it’s human nature sometimes.”

Well, uh, they don’t need to worry about getting too comfortable. Here’s a peek at what the Bruins’ lines might look like:

The Bruins promoted Austin Czarnik from the AHL in Spooner’s absence.

WATCH LIVE: Philadelphia Flyers at Buffalo Sabres


It’s been a while since a Buffalo Sabres – Philadelphia Flyers game had this much on the line in early March.

Now, it remains to be seen if either team has a chance to make a genuine playoff push (the odds are stacked especially high against Buffalo), but both squads can at least ponder such a possibility as of Tuesday. Winning this one would be another step in making that dream a more feasible goal.

The Flyers lost their last game while the Sabres have dropped their previous two, so each team also wants to get back on the winning track.

You can watch the game on NBCSN, online and also via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

Coyotes to host Pat Tillman Military Appreciation Night on March 31


The Arizona Coyotes and USAA announced that they’ll host Pat Tillman Military Appreciation Night as part of a game against the Washington Capitals on Friday, March 31.

The Coyotes will honor the former Arizona Cardinals player, who left the NFL in 2002 to serve in the military. The Pat Tillman Foundation was created in his honor following his death in Afghanistan in 2004.

Every Coyotes player will wear a no. 42 decal in Tillman’s honor, while the team will do the following to benefit the Pat Tillman Foundation:

The first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a Coyotes camo themed bandana courtesy of USAA and Pepsi. Additionally, $5.42 of every ticket purchased through the following link: Arizonacoyotes.com/Tillman (promo code: TILLMAN) will benefit the Tillman Foundation.

For more information on the event, click here.

Blackhawks’ Panarin apologizes for racially ‘insensitive comments’ from 2012


Chicago Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin apologized for racially “insensitive remarks” he made in a Russian TV interview from 2012, issuing a statement to the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Hine.

“In 2012, I was a guest on a Russian TV show and made insensitive comments that I deeply regret,” Panarin said. “I understand my comments are offensive and I apologize for my hurtful words.”

The Blackhawks issued a statement to the Tribune, too, stating that they “immediately addressed the matter with him” and that his comments “in no way represent the values of our organization.”

Specifics about where/when the interview took place are a little fuzzy, though Panarin himself mentions that they came in 2012. The “insensitive comments” come around the 7:10 mark of this video, unearthed by Blackhawks blog Faxes from Uncle Dave:

Panarin appeared to make the joke in response to a question “What could you never do,” as Second City Hockey, Hine and others note.

There’s no mention of a specific reprimand (whether it be a fine or a suspension) for the 25-year-old forward. There is some precedent for teams disciplining players for making unacceptable comments, as you may remember with Garret Sparks and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Video: Zibanejad grabs another OT winner, Rangers slip by Lightning


Injuries and inconsistency have made for a slightly disappointing first season for Mika Zibanejad with the New York Rangers, but there are flashes of the brilliance many expected.

He’s shown those game-breaking abilities in sudden death situations, in particular, lately.

Zibanejad ended up scoring the lone goal to decide the goalie duel between Andrei Vasilevskiy and Antti Raanta, giving the Rangers a 1-0 OT win. The Tampa Bay Lightning keep carving out points, but couldn’t get that key extra one thanks to this nice finish, set up by Ryan McDonagh:

Nice, right? For your click’s worth, Zibanejad scored this cheeky OT-winner against the Devils on Feb. 25: