James O'Brien

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

Taylor Hall breaks through; Ducks? Not so much

Tuesday’s New Jersey Devils – Anaheim Ducks match had the feeling of one of those “something has to give” moments. It all came up New Jersey.

After a frustrating start coming off the heels of a frustrating trade, Taylor Hall broke through in an impressive way, scoring both of the Devils’ goals in a 2-1 win.

Here’s video of the game-winner, while his first with New Jersey appears above:

While the Devils got their first win, the Ducks remain without a victory in the second Randy Carlyle era.

And, make no mistake about it, some of the blame falls on their oft-criticized head coach. Big picture wise, his system might be a little … behind the times.

This, along with the sustained impasse between the Ducks and rising star defenseman Hampus Lindholm, provides some real doom and gloom in that sunny hockey market.

On the other hand, slow starts aren’t just an issue that plagues Carlyle’s teams. NHL.com’s Curtis Zupke reminds us that the Ducks began the 2015-16 season with an 0-3-1 record, too.

So, the good news is that the Ducks fought through this sort of malaise before. The natural, uncomfortable question, is how many times can you defy conventional wisdom?

Ovechkin, Caps’ top line hand Avs their first loss


On paper, this is the sort of game a championship team should win.

The Colorado Avalanche have been looking strong, but they’re closing off a back-to-back set and were pushed to overtime. The Washington Capitals, meanwhile, come into this home game refreshed.

Sometimes things do work out more or less as planned. The Capitals mopped up this contest by a score of 3-0, giving the Avs their first loss of 2016-17.

It’s not just the win that should delight the Capitals, but also how they won.

For one thing, Philipp Grubauer enjoyed a relatively light workload in only needing 18 saves to post a shutout.

More than that, it was who was scoring the goals.

After being held off the scoreboard to start the season, the Capitals’ top line of Alex Ovechkin (one goal, one assist), T.J. Oshie (two tallies) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (one helper) really came through. Two of those three goals came on the power play, ticking off that box for anyone who gets concerned about things in small sample sizes.

If you close your eyes and imagine a typical Ovechkin goal, it probably looks just like the one he actually scored:

Washington hopes such familiar feelings will only become more common as the 2016-17 season goes along.

Marian Hossa becomes 44th player to hit 500 goals


Many associate Marian Hossa with playoff successes or his excellent two-way play. It’s easy to forget just how great he is at scoring, especially with him losing a step.

Hossa reminded hockey fans of his outstanding scoring skills on Tuesday, becoming the 44th player in NHL history to hit 500 career regular season goals.

That tally made it 4-0 for the Chicago Blackhawks, chasing Michal Neuvirth from the Philadelphia Flyers’ net.

The Blackhawks tweeted a great image that shows where he scored each of those 500 tallies:

From the Flyers’ end, we’ll need to see if a night like this swings the goalie battle back in Steve Mason‘s favor.

Fight videos: Iginla vs. Wilson, Kesler battles Fiddler


With Vincent Lecavalier being honored by Tampa Bay, maybe Jarome Iginla felt a little nostalgic about throwing fists?

Actually, he probably just really doesn’t like Tom Wilson. Tuesday featured some noteworthy names dropping the gloves, including the Colorado Avalanche’s veteran going toe to toe with the rugged Washington Capitals forward.

Iginla vs. Wilson:

It wasn’t the only moment of nastiness between the Caps, as you can see here and in this GIF from Stephanie Vail of Alex Ovechkin exchanging blows with Gabriel Landeskog:

It wasn’t the only noteworthy bout, as Ryan Kesler fought Vernon Fiddler:

This post will be updated if Tuesday provides any other noteworthy examples of fisticuffs.

Video: Dmitry Orlov flips Matt Duchene with hip check


The temptation is to call any hip check “old school.”

Considering the speed of the game and how easily a player can get out of position attempting such a hit, you don’t see many of them in the modern NHL.

Even so, is it accurate to call the hip check Dmitry Orlov delivered on Matt Duchene “old school?” It feels a bit more out of this world.

The Washington Capitals and Colorado Avalanche provided quite a flurry of activity during the first period of Tuesday’s game, as Francois Beauchemin somehow managed to save this goal with his skate.

Check out that moment in GIF form, via Stephanie Vail:

Update: After the game, it sounds like the hit generated some controversy, as Duchene vaguely noted.

Nonetheless, the Capitals cruised to a 3-0 victory, giving Colorado its first loss of the season.