James O'Brien

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

Kings get some good injury news for a change: McNabb off IR

The Los Angeles Kings haven’t had the best injury news recently, but here’s something positive: Brayden McNabb has been activated from injured reserve.

The 25-year-old hasn’t played since Oct. 29 thanks to a collarbone injury.

In eight games of action so far this season, he had averaged a career-high 20:14 minutes per game, even better than 2015-16’s career-high of just under 19 (18:49). So the Kings are getting a valuable piece back.

Los Angeles already is at its best when it is hogging the puck and winning by suffocating the opposition, and it seems like that will be even more of an emphasis with McNabb returning and Tyler Toffoli out for some time. Kyle Clifford‘s also a little banged-up, so the Kings are likely to try to keep things close to the vest, even by their standards.

It’s reasonable to expect McNabb to be in the lineup against the Edmonton Oilers tonight.

Burns, Pavelski sink Ducks with sweet overtime-winner

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The San Jose Sharks are starting to fatten their Pacific Division lead thanks in large part to their big guns making the ultimate difference.

The Sharks got that extra point against the Edmonton Oilers in overtime on Friday, and they did the same against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. Things are going pretty swimmingly for the Sharks thanks to little breaks like these:

1. Sharks – 45 points in 35 games
2. Oilers – 42 points in 36 GP
3. Ducks – 41 points in 36 GP
4. Flames – 40 points in 37 GP
5. Kings – 38 points in 34 GP

In the case of Tuesday’s overtime win against the Ducks, it came down to this sweet play set up by Joe Pavelski and finished up by Brent Burns:

Burns assisted on the overtime-winner against the Oilers, too, so he’s been especially “clutch” as of late. You can understand why the Sharks are even getting a little weird about it on Twitter:

Wild edge Predators in OT, stretch streak to 11 wins in a row


With Jared Spurgeon‘s overtime goal, the Minnesota Wild edged the Nashville Predators 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday. By doing so, they’ve now won 11 games in a row.

The hot streak goes deeper than that, too. They’re also 13-1-3 in their last 17 games, putting them at 22-8-4 on the season.

Here’s that overtime-winner by Spurgeon:

As usual, Devan Dubnyk was brilliant.

They also continue to gain on the Chicago Blackhawks for the Central Division lead, especially since the Blackhawks lost to the Winnipeg Jets 3-1 tonight. Here’s how the two teams look:

Blackhawks: 22-10-5 with 49 points in 37 games played
Wild: 22-8-4 with 48 points in 34 games

Much like the also-red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets not that long ago, the Wild might not be on top of their division, but their games in hand advantage indicates that they could very well be on the verge of taking first place.

Speaking of the Blue Jackets, New Year’s Eve is looming as a fascinating night, as the two teams face off in Columbus on Saturday. Each squad needs to win one more game and it would be quite the fascinating clash between two streaking squads where something would have to give.

Sabres slip by Red Wings as Detroit celebrates 1996-97 Stanley Cup team


Reunions are almost universally wistful experiences, particularly if the present doesn’t quite match up to the past.

That’s likely the feeling many Detroit Red Wings fans wrestled with on Tuesday, as the 2016-17 version of the team fell 4-3 to the Buffalo Sabres while the team celebrated the Stanley Cup-winning 1996-97 squad.

Detroit dominated the shot counts (43-22), Evander Kane scored two goals including the game-winner and Jack Eichel blew our minds. But a lot of the action took a backseat to pondering the past.

Here’s video of the ceremony:

Again, there were a lot of mixed feelings in the air. Feeds like these capture much of that spirit, although this GIF – without comment – probably says as much as anything else:


Jack Eichel reminds us of his obscene skill (Video)


Not a lot of humans can pull off the slick moves that almost seem to come easily to Jack Eichel.

He’s dazzled us plenty of times before, and it really doesn’t get old to see him make some slick moves. He did so on Tuesday, befuddling Petr Mrazek/the general audience by roofing a puck over the Detroit Red Wings goalie.

Check out that fantastic display in the video above.

As a bonus, this move didn’t result in a goal, but hockey fans should enjoy this outrageous move by Erik Karlsson: