James O'Brien

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

Video: Auston Matthews ends goal drought in a big way

Auston Matthews and Toronto Maple Leafs fans can utter a sigh of relief after the promising rookie ended his 13-game goal drought on Wednesday night.

His seventh goal of the 2016-17 season gave the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead against the New Jersey Devils, and Matthews set up a Nazem Kadri tally shortly thereafter.

Moments before this post was about to go up, Matthews scored a second goal (his eighth of 2016-17), too.

Watch the first goal in the video above. Here’s the second goal:

Also, in case you’re wondering … yes, Matthews’ production has been erratic, even if his efforts have actually been remarkably consistent.

Canadiens’ Beaulieu sidelined, no longer in hospital after puck to throat

The good news for Nathan Beaulieu and the Montreal Canadiens is that he’s out of the hospital today after taking a puck to the throat on Tuesday.

The bad news is that he’s been ruled out of Thursday’s contest against the Carolina Hurricanes and probably won’t play against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, according to Michel Therrien and LNH.com.

“He’s still got some tests,” Therrien said. “We’ll find out a bit more in the next few days.”

(You can see that scary moment from last night’s 4-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators in the video above this post’s headline.)

The Canadiens are gearing up for one of their tougher stretches of this early season after dropping four of their last five games (1-3-1 to go to 14-4-2).

After Thursday’s home game against the Hurricanes, Saturday begins a five-game road trip that includes a three-game jaunt against the California teams. Having Beaulieu back sometime in that span would be ideal, but obviously his overall health is the top priority.

WATCH LIVE: Flyers at Lightning – Wednesday Night Rivalry


The Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers boast two of the brightest GMs in the NHL, so don’t be surprised if these two teams eventually surpass previous heights between the two franchises.

(Remember that great 2004 Eastern Conference Final series where Keith Primeau & Co. gave the eventual Stanley Cup champions a run for their money?)

In this latest rendition of “Wednesday Night Rivalry,” we’ll see the Lightning face the Flyers before the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks face off.

You can watch the game online, via NBCSN or on the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream, which includes NHL Live to get you ready.

Video: Kings celebrate Vachon making Hall of Fame


The Los Angeles Kings celebrated the 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame induction of former goalie Rogie Vachon during Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

(Vachon’s class also included¬†Eric Lindros, Sergei Makarov and Pat Quinn.)

You can watch the great video the team put together for Vachon below. Do note that it’s been quite the fantastic week for the former netminder.

Goalie nods: Pickard gets chance to impress for the Avs


The Colorado Avalanche needs something – anything – to start putting some wins together. At best, they’ve been mediocre this season, and Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog won’t save the day on Saturday.

In recent years, Colorado’s best moments have almost always been authored by goalies, particularly Semyon Varlamov.

Unfortunately for the Avs, Varlamov hasn’t really gotten on track in 2016-17. It makes you wonder: should Calvin Pickard (five games played) be getting more of an equal share of the starts (Varlamov’s received 12)?

That argument seemed especially strong after Pickard generated a three-game winning streak to start the season, but his appearances were still spread out over significant stretches of time. Allowing four goals in a loss to the Coyotes on Nov. 8 didn’t help matters, either.

Maybe Saturday is the chance he’s been waiting for … one that could even get him into more games?

Devan Dubnyk looks set to play in the Minnesota Wild’s net, and in case you’ve missed it, he’s been one of the hottest goalies not named Tuukka Rask or Carey Price.

Sure sounds like an interesting “sink or swim” challenge, doesn’t it?

Around the league …

Devils: Cory Schneider vs. Kings: Peter Budaj

Maple Leafs: Frederik Andersen vs. Canadiens: (probably) Carey Price

Panthers: Most likely Roberto Luongo vs. Senators: Craig Anderson

Best guesses – Oilers: Cam Talbot vs. Stars: Kari Lehtonen

Penguins: possibly Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Sabres: Anders Nilsson

Jets: Mike Hutchinson vs. Bruins (likely) Tuukka Rask

Predators: Probably Pekka Rinne vs. Blues: Jake Allen

Sharks: Likely Martin Jones vs. Coyotes: Mike Smith

Blackhaws: Possibly Scott Darling vs. Canucks: Jacob Markstrom