James O'Brien

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

Kris Draper and Gary Roberts got a little chippy at alumni game (Video)

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There’s a lot of nostalgia in the air for Saturday’s two alumni games. Most of that involves good-natured fun, but did we sense a little tension too?

As you can see in the video above, Kris Draper and Gary Roberts mixed it up a bit during the 2017 Centennial Classic’s alumni game. They didn’t come to blows, but it was still a pretty entertaining sight.

There were at least some bad feelings involved:

But, yeah, most of the other moments were jovial:

Draper scored the game-winning goal in a 4-3 win for the Detroit Red Wings over the Toronto Maple Leafs, so you could say that he got the last laugh. (Lanny McDonald just happened to get the best laugh.)

There was at least one great athletic feat mixed into the proceedings:

Overall it seems like the fans were the biggest winners, so the event was quite the success.

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NHL.com also has a nice piece about young Maple Leafs meeting old icons. Former Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues players are engaging in an alumni game of their own today, so it’s quite a way for many fans to close out 2016.

Concussion issues sideline Bruins’ David Backes indefinitely

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The Boston Bruins won both games of their back-to-back set against the Buffalo Sabres, yet Thursday presented a significant injury loss in David Backes.

Backes is out indefinitely due to a concussion suffered thanks to a hit by William Carrier, which you can view in the video above. The 32-year-old dealt with at least one concussion stemming from 2014. (Let’s not forget his exchanges with Duncan Keith, either.)

John-Michael Liles has been sidelined with his own concussion issues since late November, with sparse updates in his regard as well.

Carrier seemed to hurt his hand in a fight with Adam McQuaid as a response to the hit that injured Backes:

Finland fires coach Rautakorpi after letdown at World Juniors

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Last year, Finland won gold at the World Juniors. This time around, they’re in the relegation round after losing their three preliminary matches, prompting the mid-tournament firing of coach Jukka Rautakorpi.

Rautakorpi’s replacement is Jussi Ahokas, who boasts some impressive credentials. The Canadian Press notes that he was the head coach of Finland’s under-18 team for the past three years, bringing home gold in 2016.

There’s a “What have you done for me lately?” feel to this move, even by the fickle standards of sports. That’s especially true when you realize that this version of the Finnish team lacks some of the high-end talent they had last year, most notably Patrik Laine.

Finland’s outlook regarding their overall performance apparently mirror captain Olli Juolevi’s comments about an upset 3-2 loss to Denmark:

“We should beat Denmark or we should at least score more than two goals with those shots or something,” said Finland captain Olli Juolevi, per Postmedia. “There’s no excuses.”

There aren’t any excuses … and there’s zero tolerance for failure now that expectations have been raised.

Video: John Moore taken off ice on stretcher after Tom Wilson hit

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New Jersey Devils defenseman John Moore was taken off the ice on a stretcher Saturday afternoon following a hit by Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson.

On the bright side, it looks like Moore was able to move his arms and legs after what was an awkward fall. MSG’s Deb Kaufman Placey reports that Moore was speaking with team doctors and trainers after the hit as well.

Wilson didn’t receive a penalty for the check. Video isn’t available just yet, but SBNation shared this GIF of the hit:

Additional information regarding Moore’s condition is not yet available. Stay tuned for updates.

The Capitals dominated on the scoreboard, ultimately beating the Devils 6-2 as New Jersey ended 2016 on a rough note.

Update: Moore was hospitalized, but the good news is that he’s been released:

Video: Ryan Miller’s falling glove save vs. Corey Perry

The bounces haven’t been going Corey Perry‘s way very often so far in 2016-17.

You can back up this statement in plenty of ways.

Despite firing 110 shots on goal (tied for 19th-most in the NHL), Perry has just seven goals, giving him a 6.4 shooting percentage. That isn’t even half as good as his career average of 13.3 percent.

He’s been especially snake-bitten lately, managing two assists but zero goals despite firing eight shots on goal in his past two games. Perry’s normally a virtual lock for 30+ goals in any non-lockout-season, but he’ll really need some bounces and a blistering finish to flirt with his usual goal production this year.

If you’d rather not dive into those numbers, maybe you merely need to tell the story of the season for the Anaheim Ducks’ power forward by playing Ryan Miller‘s glove save (and Perry’s reaction) on an endless loop.

Check it out in the video above, or if you prefer, this GIF:

The Canucks needed that save, too, as they eventually were able to tie Friday’s game and beat the Ducks 3-2 in overtime. Miller stopped 24 out of 26 shots overall.