James O'Brien

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

Hagelin returned to Penguins lineup; Malkin gets 500th assist

Despite the score being 0-0, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins combined for an entertaining first period. For some, the most exciting sight might just be a speedy number 62 in white.

It’s at least a little surprising to see that Carl Hagelin returned to the Penguins lineup on Friday after being sidelined with a concussion since Feb. 4. Then again, considering his status as one of the league’s speediest wingers, it’s kind of fitting, right?

He’s lining up with Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist so far, already making his presence felt with his ability to find some space.

If there’s any concern about complications, Hagelin should be especially careful tonight. There are pretty apparent “tensions” between these teams.

Update: During the same week that Sidney Crosby scored his 1,000th point, Evgeni Malkin grabbed his 500th assist:

While battling cancer, Dave Strader will call Stars games again

via Dallas Stars

Battling bile duct cancer likely puts the daily struggle of hockey teams in perspective, but the sense of community could give announcer Dave Strader a boost.

The Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika goes deep on Strader’s return, as he’s slated to call five Dallas Stars games beginning with Saturday’s contest against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Strader looks forward to the atmosphere and sharing some laughs with Daryl “Razor” Reaugh.

“I know the game is going to be exciting, but I’m looking forward mostly to going to the morning skate, hanging out with the players, laughing at Razor’s jokes,” Strader said. “You really appreciate that when it’s not there.”

That’s touching stuff, and Heika notes that at one point, he suffered through cardiac failure while going through treatments.

It’s a haunting reminder of what the 61-year-old is dealing with, even as he clearly relishes the opportunity to do what he loves. He described the experience to NHL.com as “cathartic.”

Both Strader and Reaugh lent their voices to NBCSN telecasts in the past. Here’s the schedule Strader expects to keep:

NHLPA will indeed appeal Vermette’s 10-game suspension


The NHLPA will “review” the 10-game suspension handed to Antoine Vermette for abuse of an official, according to a wide variety of sources including agent Allan Walsh.

TVA’s Renaud Lavoie reports that the appeal/review will take place sometime in the next two weeks.

The incident happened during the Anaheim Ducks’ 1-0 win against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday (you can watch video of it above).

As it stands, Vermette is set to lose just under $100K in salary thanks to the suspension. A March 12 home game against the Washington Capitals would mark his first game back if the NHLPA’s appeal bid is unsuccessful.

The Ducks play their first game without Vermette against the Florida Panthers tonight.

Panthers’ present to Jagr: A wild OT win vs. Sharks


The Florida Panthers twitter feed joked about needing coffee for a rare late game in San Jose against the Sharks, but their eventual 6-5 OT win could leave their fans so excited they’ll struggle to sleep.

(Or … conversely, so spent emotionally that they conk out on their coaches.)

If you want an idea of how thrilling this game was at times, consider this: the latter events of the contest probably topped the five-goal first period.

Consider some of the high points of what happened late in the contest:

  • Jaromir Jagr celebrated his 45th birthday with the 1,900th point of his distinguished, remarkable NHL career. At that point, it seemed like Florida might just put a bow on this game with a 5-3 lead.
  • Joe Pavelski had other ideas. The Sharks captain scored two goals to send this game into overtime, hitting the 20-goal mark in the process. It remains to be seen how injured Roberto Luongo is from the sequence in which Pavelski made it 5-5, but he was at least hurt enough to leave the game with about 30 seconds remaining in regulation.
  • This forced James Reimer into the net, aka the guy who very briefly joined the Sharks (watching Martin Jones during the playoffs, more or less). Reimer ended up making two saves and will probably be credited with a win.

  • The Panthers put together some exciting chances in a brief overtime period, including a thwarted semi-breakaway attempt by Michael Matheson. Eventually, Jonathan Huberdeau continued his red-hot if far-too-late start to the season with the OT winner, thanks to a ludicrous pass by Aleksander Barkov.

Oh yeah, the game also included some brilliant saves and a failed Pavelski penalty shot attempt … and that five-goal first period.

After the Blues really kept the lid on the Red Wings in a low-scoring game at Joe Louis Arena, just about everything happened at the Shark Tank.

San Jose has to be frustrated in its play lately, although grabbing a point here shows that the Sharks won’t just go easily. The Panthers, meanwhile, likely feel as optimistic as they’ve been in some time about a possible charge toward a wild card spot.

“Wild” certainly seemed to be the theme of this one.

Video: Jaromir Jagr celebrates 45th birthday with 1,900th point


On his 45th birthday, Jaromir Jagr got what just about any reasonable hockey player wouldn’t even ask for: his 1,900th career regular season point.

Fitting for a guy who just seems to wade through milestone after milestone, right?

Jagr’s 22nd assist of 2016-17 did the trick on Aleksander Barkov‘s 13th goal of the season. At the moment, it seemed like the tally would put things away at 5-3 … but that wasn’t the case. Instead, Joe Pavelski remarkably fired two goals past Roberto Luongo – who was hurt on the second one – to send this game to overtime.


But let’s focus, for the moment, on that Jagr assist. Watch it in the video above.