Author: James O'Brien

Vancouver Canucks v Anaheim Ducks

Vancouver’s just another city to Kesler now


The scoreboard didn’t scream “drama” between the Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks last night, as the Ducks handily won 4-0. It sounds like Ryan Kesler’s over his former link to the city, too.

Despite spending the first 10 years of his NHL career with the Canucks, Kesler essentially referred to Vancouver as just another of the 29 stops he’ll visit whenever the Ducks are away from Anaheim.

Here is what he told TSN 1040’s Stu Walters:

As you can see from the video on his hit on Derek Dorsett (which left the grinding forward with an upper-body injury), Kesler was full of unfriendly statements on Tuesday.

One can excuse Vancouver crowds if they still take notice of the 30-year-old, though.

NHL on NBCSN: Penguins kick off Rivalry Night vs. Capitals

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Washington Capitals host the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Verizon Center at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight as part of a back-to-back set of games on NBCSN on Wednesday. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have held up their end of the bargain in maintaining one of the NHL’s most organic rivalries, yet they’re waiting for the Washington Capitals to fully rebound to the form that had hockey fans daydreaming about perennial playoff matches between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

The two teams will renew acquaintances on Wednesday night, as “Rivalry Night” presents quite the appetizing double-header of games.

It’s unclear if Crosby will be able to play tonight, as he’s targeting either Wednesday or Friday as a return date from the lower-body injury that caused some controversy.

The Penguins showed that they can still win down some key players last night, as they cooled the hot Winnipeg Jets 5-3 on the strength of Kris Letang’s impressive five-assist output. With Patric Hornqvist back in the mix, it’s still a group that demands respect from opponents.

Washington shouldn’t be short on respect for the Penguins anyway, as Pittsburgh had won eight straight regular season matchups before a Dec. 27 win by the Caps.

After a stretch in which they earned a point in all but one of 19 games (going 14-1-4), the Capitals are struggling right now, dropping four straight losses. They fell 4-3 to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, even with Sergei Bobrovsky on the mend for quite some time.

On the bright side, Ovechkin has been scoring at a very nice clip. While he didn’t generate a point last night, Ovechkin went into the All-Star break on a three-game multi-point streak (five goals, one assist). With both teams dealing with similar fatigue challenges, Ovechkin could very well be that much tougher to handle.

The Penguins followed Tuesday’s win by trading Marcel Goc for Maxim Lapierre, so we’ll see if the pest makes his Pittsburgh debut tonight.

Thomas Greiss went for the Penguins last night, so one would expect Marc-Andre Fleury to be in Pittsburgh’s net. Similar logic would indicate that Justin Peters may get the nod for Washington, although Braden Holtby’s been enough of a workhorse that both possibilities seem reasonable.

There’s enough on the line that the two squads can really start to rekindle the rivalry tonight. It probably wouldn’t take much to fan the flames there, after all.

PHT Morning Skate: Saying goodbye to Martin Brodeur (plus a brutal Sidney Crosby typo)

Dallas Stars v St. Louis Blues

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

After a brief jaunt with the St. Louis Blues, Martin Brodeur is hanging up his leg pads and taking a front office job. Let’s take a look at some of what’s been said and written about the departing legend in a special Marty-heavy edition of the PHT Morning Skate.

Martin Brodeur: By the Numbers. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

Brodeur retired to take a job in the Blues’ front office. Shouldn’t he be getting such a gig with the New Jersey Devils instead? (In Lou We Trust)

Patrick Roy’s take on Brodeur retiring. (Puck Daddy)

Apparently the Blues gave Brodeur a very “St. Louis” goodbye message. (St. Louis Game Time)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Wednesday at 7:30pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

NBCSN shared two videos on Brodeur last night.

First, here’s a collection of reactions from players and coaches:

Finally, Mike Milbury and Keith Jones share some memories:


A few non-Brodeur bits really quick …

This is, um, regrettable.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman wants to be an all-around threat.

NHL on NBCSN: Lightning seek sweep vs. Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes v Tampa Bay Lightning

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Carolina Hurricanes host the Tampa Bay Lightning at PNC Arena at 7:30 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

At a quick glance, Tuesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes should be a layup for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

They’re the top team in the Eastern Conference. The Lightning won three straight games heading into the All-Star break. Even with Tyler Johnson’s lower-body injury labeling him as a game-time decision, the Bolts go into this contest boasting a ton of talent.

The margins are smaller once you look a little closer, though.

Yes, the Lightning won both games against the Hurricanes so far, but each win was by a 2-1 score. Tampa Bay boasts frail leads in the conference (the New York Islanders trail by one standings point with two games in hand) and its division (Detroit is only behind by one point with a game in hand; Montreal is three away with three games in hand).

The Lightning still seem to shake out as one of the East’s elite (see their +29 goal differential, among other factors), yet that closer examination still speaks to the notion that they have some work to do.

The most obvious area of improvement is their work on the road. They’ve quietly struggled away from Tampa Bay, going 11-10-3. Every other current East playoff team grades better that the Lightning (some much, others just a bit) until you get to eighth-place Boston with a nearly identical 10-9-3 road mark.

If the Bolts want to take that next step from promising, rising team to genuine contenders, they need to become more proficient without home cooking.

The Hurricanes stand as a sturdier test than their 16-25-5 record suggests, too.

Carolina is on a two-game winning streak and is 6-2-1 in nine January contests. With the Staal brothers, Jeff Skinner and All-Star Justin Faulk, there’s enough talent there to make the Hurricanes a spoiler threat as the seasons last two-plus months wind down.

At the moment, it seems like it might be Anton Khudobin vs. Ben Bishop in net, but stay tuned for goalie nods to find out for sure.

Barry Trotz is determined to save Foley the Tiger


Barry Trotz is now the coach of the Washington Capitals, yet it’s clear that he still has a huge soft spot for some of the biggest predators.

The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline passes along a great story from the All-Star break: Trotz spent Saturday at the Columbus Zoo and left with a goal to save Foley the Tiger from what might be an unpleasant move to Kansas. (See more at the bottom of this post.)

It sounds like he might even try to get Ohio State coach Urban Meyer involved in the cause.

Seriously, Trotz sounds like he’ll stand his ground on this one:

The Washington Post points out that this isn’t the first time Trotz took up the cause of a big cat since becoming the head coach of the Capitals, as he showed interest in a lion as well.

In case you’re wondering, this is what Foley looks like:

It seems like Foley is already something of a big-cat-celebrity, so we’ll see if that’s enough to sidetrack such a move. If nothing else, it’s another example of Trotz sporting a heart of gold below what seems like an occasionally gruff demeanor.

Update: Here’s a little more background on the situation regarding possibly moving the tiger.

So perhaps Foley doesn’t need saving … but hey, Trotz’s heart is in the right place, at least.