James O'Brien

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

Rangers dominate Blues (and Lundqvist looks sharp)


The New York Rangers have enjoyed some strong work from their deep arsenal of forwards, a nice thing with Henrik Lundqvist experiencing early struggles in 2016-17.

Lundqvist provided a handy reminder against the St. Louis Blues that he’s probably going to be, well, Henrik Lundqvist more often than not.

Watch in the video above as he thwarts Robby Fabbri‘s nice scoring attempt for one of the best glove saves of this young season.

Speaking of that deep offense … the Rangers are already up 4-0, chasing Jake Allen early on Tuesday.

At the moment, the best news for New York might be that Ryan McDonagh seemingly shrugged this off:

Update: The Rangers ended up cruising to a 5-0 victory. Lundqvist got some recognition via ceremonial headwear:

Fight, penalties spark fast start for Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning have lamented slow starts lately, but it didn’t take them long to get a wake-up call against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.

Calvin de Haan caught Jonathan Drouin with his head low and connected with a big hit, leaving Drouin shaken. Ryan Callahan immediately responded by fighting de Haan.

At the moment, it looks like Drouin might be dealing with an injury. PHT will keep an eye on his status.

First, here’s the check in GIF form:

Then, the end of the scuffle:

The Lightning ended up getting the advantage in this exchange. De Haan received two five-minute majors (interference and fighting) while Callahan received an interference minor, a fighting major and a 10-minute misconduct.

With Ryan Strome adding to the Isles’ woes via a delay of game penalty, the Lightning scored a power-play goal.

It hasn’t been all bad news for the Islanders, however, as what looked like a 2-0 Steven Stamkos tally ended up being disallowed after an offside review.

Update: The quick start continued as the Lightning are already off to a 3-0, prompting Jack Capuano to pull Thomas Greiss in favor of Jaroslav Halak.

Matt Murray will return to Penguins’ net on Wednesday


The Pittsburgh Penguins confirmed that goalie Matt Murray will face the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.

Murray hasn’t made a start in 2016-17 thanks to a hand injury, but life’s still been pretty good for him, considering the contract extension he received.

(Also, the whole “summer full of championship celebrations” probably served him well.)

The Penguins are currently on a three-game winning streak, but his return is well-timed. They’ll begin a three-game road trip against the California teams with Wednesday’s game against the Ducks, turn around for a back-to-back against the Kings on Thursday and then wrap things up vs. the Sharks on Saturday.

His injury issues put a brewing goalie battle with Marc-Andre Fleury to the backburner, but now that debate will likely rev back up.

Pittsburgh likely views it as a good “problem” to have.

WATCH LIVE: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders


So far, things haven’t gone as planned for the Tampa Bay Lightning (5-4-0) or the New York Islanders (4-5-0). Tuesday presents an opportunity to build up some momentum.

While it’s been a bumpy start, there’s still plenty of talent on both sides. There should be plenty of star power on hand as John Tavares takes on Steven Stamkos & Co.

Watch the action online or via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.

For more on Lightning – Islanders (and Coyotes – Sharks, the second half of tonight’s doubleheader), check out this preview.

Dylan Strome gets a big chance with Coyotes tonight

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If you want another hook for tonight’s Arizona Coyotes – San Jose Sharks game on NBCSN, keep an eye on Coyotes rookie Dylan Strome.

While tons of young players are making an impression so far in 2016-17, Strome’s been a regular healthy scratch. He last got in the Coyotes lineup on Oct. 21, but he’s getting back in tonight.

His return to the lineup isn’t the only reason he’ll be interesting to watch, as it looks like he’ll form an intriguing line with Jamie McGinn and Anthony Duclair. That’s quite the opportunity to make an impression.

“Hopefully we’ll see his level rise,” Dave Tippett said. ” … We could use his skill in there.”

It’s also interesting to note that Tippett said Strome has been working with the team’s skating coach:

Strome has one assist to show for his three games so far. To be fair to the 19-year-old, he was only averaging about 13 minutes per contest, so maybe this will be more of a “real” chance?

Tippett repeatedly notes how convenient it is to send players to the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate, yet as Five for Howling notes, the team is in a bind because they can’t do that with Strome. They face the decision of either burning a year off of his entry-level contract with the big club or sending him back to junior (where he has little left to prove).

His performance against the Sharks could make a big difference in that decision-making process.