James O'Brien

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

Bobrovsky gets consecutive shutouts, sets Blue Jackets record


Sergei Bobrovsky might make an already competitive Vezina Trophy race crowded. If nothing else, he’s doing things that no other Columbus Blue Jackets goalie has managed.

Bobrovsky set a new franchise record on Sunday, grabbing his 34th win of 2016-17. He’s already won a Vezina for the Blue Jackets, but faced some rocky times between that honor in a shortened season and this record-breaking year.

With about a month left, “Bob” could make it pretty tough for anyone to set a new wins mark for Columbus … perhaps himself included.

Bobrovsky’s 34 wins aren’t just impressive compared to previous Blue Jackets goalies; he’s tied for second place in that category, with only Devan Dubnyk having more at 35.

Looking at things from a more recent perspective, he’s on a hot streak in the short term, too.

He’s now on a two-game shutout streak after Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets blanked the New Jersey Devils 3-0 on Sunday.

After a 38-save masterpiece to shut down the Minnesota Wild, it was a little easier for Bobrovsky this time around, as he made a 20-save shutout. This streak represents some of his best work, sticking with the theme:

As much as the Blue Jackets’ success is about the team being able to deploy waves of quality scorers at opponents, don’t forget about the impact of a healthy Bobrovsky.

WATCH LIVE: St. Louis Blues at Colorado Avalanche

There’s been quite a bit of bad news for the St. Louis Blues lately, but winning tonight could help to turn things around.

Sure, they’ve lost five in a row and trail the Nashville Predators by six points for third in the Central, but they also hold two games in hand. Yes, they trail the Kings by a point for the first wild card spot, but St. Louis holds two games in hand on them, too.

So, yeah, things could look sunnier … if they beat the Colorado Avalanche on NBCSN tonight.

If not, they’d cede part of those advantages and lose to easily the worst team in the NHL. So the stakes are pretty high for the Blues tonight.

In addition to catching the game on NBCSN, you can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream.

Martin Jones with an odd jersey save (Video)


Sunday presented at least two instances of double-take near-goals. Moments that made for some challenging video reviews, just in time for this week’s upcoming GM meetings.

Chris Stewart sure seemed to believe that he put the Minnesota Wild up 2-0 against the San Jose Sharks, and Martin Jones didn’t seem to know what happened … although he showed the wherewithal to keep this in the jersey save category, even if save maybe deserves a question mark.

The league provided a pretty straightforward explanation:

At 12:45 of the first period in the Sharks/Wild game, video review confirmed the referee’s call on the ice that the puck did not cross the San Jose goal line. No goal Minnesota.

The Wild seemed to shake that setback off pretty well, as Eric Staal made it 2-0 for real with a goal a few minutes later. San Jose did get one goal back to end the first, however.

The Sharks – or at least the people behind their Twitter feed – believe that this was highlight reel material.

(Jake McCabe‘s save might warrant a higher spot on said “Top 10,” though.)

Video: Sabres’ McCabe denies Penguins goal at last possible moment


Things just weren’t going the Pittsburgh Penguins’ way during the first period on Sunday, but don’t discount the Buffalo Sabres’ role in that rocky start.

Along with Jack Eichel and Ryan O'Reilly triggering a 3-0 start that ended Matt Murray‘s night early, Jake McCabe robbed what seemed like a sure goal at the last possible moment. What would have been a 1-1 tie remained a 1-0 advantage for Buffalo thanks to a heads-up play by McCabe, which you can watch above.

Here’s a screencap of that near-goal, to give you an idea of how close it really was (while respectfully disagreeing with the Robin Lehner hot take):

The NHL determined that the puck didn’t cross the line after a review.

Pittsburgh is attempting to fight back from that 3-0 deficit, cutting Buffalo’s lead to 3-2 heading into the third period.

Seven-game surge allows Flames to dream bigger than wild card

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When the Calgary Flames fell to 24-24-3 with a loss on Jan. 24, it was reasonable to wonder if they’d even make the playoffs. Things have changed quite a bit since then, to the point where they might even enjoy a round of home-ice advantage.

The Flames have blazed a 12-2-1 path since falling to “.500,” but they’ve been especially hot lately, managing a seven-game winning streak on the strength of Sunday’s 5-2 win against the New York Islanders. They’re also 8-0-1 during a nine-game point streak.

While they remain in a modest spot as the West’s top wild card team, it’s at least conceivable that they could eventually pass the Ducks for third in the Pacific or even the Oilers for second in the division.

Pacific standings (updated at end of Sunday)

1. Sharks – 83 points in 64 games (lost to Wild)
2. Oilers – 78 points in 65 games
3. Ducks – 76 points in 65 games (lost to Canucks)

Flames – 76 points in 66 games

Don’t blame them for dusting off a creaky meme or two, as it’s been a while since they’ve enjoyed a run like this.

As discussed earlier on Sunday, tonight’s win came at the expense of Thomas Greiss and the Islanders.