James O'Brien

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

WATCH LIVE: Stanley Cup Final Game 3 – Penguins at Sharks

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So far, the 2016 Stanley Cup Final has been lopsided at times … at least in terms of level of play.

The bottom line, though, is that while the Pittsburgh Penguins are up 2-0, the San Jose Sharks haven’t been getting dominated on the scoreboard. Game 1 came down to a late Nick Bonino goal while Game 2 needed an early overtime marker to decide an outcome.

Could a change of scenery tip the scales in the Sharks’ favor?

You can find out by tuning in to NBCSN and checking out the livestream via the link below. Enjoy pre-game coverage and all the fun:


Just for Men: Joe Thornton


This Just for Men series touched on Joe Thornton briefly when we lavished attention on the lavish beard boasted by Brent Burns, but some beards are worth revisiting.

(See: the Dynasty-era New York Islanders.)

Quite frankly, Jumbo Joe’s jumbo-beard might just best Brent Burns’ Brillo chin.

Consider this very serious breakdown:

Thornton’s beard is a thing of awe. It’s the sort of thing that inspires people to Photoshop his beard on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ faces. The combined might of the Sharks’ shear-breaking beards even inspired some (presumably hairy) chest-puffing:

Just consider how far he’s come from a facial-hair-standpoint:

Much like with Burns, this series really needs to take a moment to thank the patient significant others of the bodaciously bearded. Even those who may enjoy a little gruff must be itching to see Thornton’s beard go soon enough.

Is it too early to miss Thornton’s beard?

(His wife says no.)

Stunner: Justin Braun sends Game 2 into overtime


As much as the Pittsburgh Penguins were taking it to the San Jose Sharks during most of Game 2, there was that sneaking feeling that the Sharks were just a bounce or two away.

That suspicion ended up being justified as the Penguins couldn’t make their 1-0 goal lead stick, even though they generated plenty of chances.

A Justin Braun shot made its way through traffic and maybe took a bounce or two before beating Matt Murray with mere minutes remaining in the third period of Game 2.

That goal, which you can see above, made it 1-1 and helped to send this contest to overtime, the first bit of beyond-regulation play of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Braun enjoyed a nice moment during what has certainly been a trying time off the ice.

This is the first overtime contest since the 2014 championship round, by the way.

HBK Line makes sweet music, Penguins carry 1-0 lead into third


The HBK Line isn’t losing its smile.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks were locked in a stalemate for a good chunk of Game 2, but the home team finally broke the ice with a 1-0 goal during the second period.

Roman Polak‘s mistake and the deadly combination of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel made that first tally happen for Pittsburgh.

Bonino deserves a big chunk of the credit while Kessel tapped the puck in for his 10th goal of this postseason.

This 1-0 score might make you think that it’s been a slog, but that’s hardly been the case. Instead, the score’s currently low because of a combination of close calls and nice saves.

Just ask Tomas Hertl.

While the Penguins haven’t dominated to the same degree in Game 2 as they did to start Game 1, they’re still giving the Sharks fits with their speed and really dominating the shots on goal category.

So far, the Pens are carrying chunks of play, but there’s still plenty of time in this contest for twists and turns.

Update: Pittsburgh drove play in a big way to finish the middle frame.

Still, the Sharks are very much in the game since the third period will begin with just a 1-0 margin.

WATCH LIVE: Stanley Cup Final Game 2 – Sharks at Penguins


After a thrilling Game 1 in which the Pittsburgh Penguins won 3-2, the San Jose Sharks hope to even the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

It won’t be easy for the Sharks to neutralize Sidney Crosby or the Penguins’ speedy style of play, yet that’s the goal as Game 2 kicks off on Wednesday.

You can enjoy pre-game coverage and all the fun on NBCSN while an online stream is available via the link below.