James O'Brien

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

Forever a Senator – Senators retire Daniel Alfredsson’s number 11

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The Ottawa Senators are really knocking it out of the park as they honor Daniel Alfredsson’s career and retire his number 11 during Thursday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

The Red Wings, of course, are the other team Alfredsson suited up for, although Alfie said all the right things on this memorable evening.

“I’m so proud to have my number retired here in Ottawa,” Alfredsson said. “I’ll forever be a Senator.”

Ottawa piled on a lot of great stuff for “#Celebrate11,” including Senators players wearing every sweater Alfredsson donned during his time with the team:

Honestly though, the highlight of the entire presentation might be the footage of young Alfie:

Nicely done, Sens.

Video: David Backes banged up in rough period for Bruins

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Life has been frustrating for the Boston Bruins lately, and the first period of Thursday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres held true to that pattern.

For one thing, the Sabres generated a 2-0 lead and 16-9 shot advantage against the Bruins.

That’s a smaller concern than the health of forward David Backes, however. It’s too early to tell if he suffered an injury via this hard hit by William Carrier. Video of the hit is avaliable above, but you can also watch the check from a couple angles in GIF form:

Carrier received a penalty for illegal hit to the head on the play.

Later on, it was quite the scene as officials tried to keep Adam McQuaid and Carrier apart:

Update: The bad news for Boston is that Backes did not return. The good news for the Bruins is that they scored four unanswered goals to win 4-2.

WATCH LIVE: New Jersey Devils at Washington Capitals

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While the New Jersey Devils see their hopes fading, the Washington Capitals hope to justify big expectations.

With Taylor Hall among those out for the Devils, this is the sort of game that Alex Ovechkin & Co. should mop up. Still, this is the Metropolitan Division, where there aren’t many nights off.

Check out the game on NBCSN, watch it online or via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.

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

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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: