James O'Brien

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

Stars take showdown vs. Kings, Ruff gets 700th coaching win


If Saturday afternoon is any indication, the Dallas Stars look like they’ll go into the playoffs on a high note … and possibly with a division title, as well.

The Stars won their fourth consecutive game in a possible preview of the 2016 Western Conference Final by beating the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. They’ve now taken seven of their last eight contests, and with this victory, Lindy Ruff has 700 wins as an NHL coach.

Los Angeles carried a 2-1 lead into the third period despite Dallas generating 30 shots on goal through the first 40 minutes. The Stars just wouldn’t be denied, however, and overwhelmed the Kings in the final frame.

This victory puts Dallas in an excellent position to take the Central Division title. The Stars have a four-point edge on the Blues for that top spot, with St. Louis holding a game in hand (four remaining to Dallas’ three).

Saturday’s decision also makes it highly likely that the Central Division’s top team will also take the top seed in the West.

Who knows … that might be a pretty big deal if the Stars face the Kings in the playoffs.

You won’t see Stamkos for Lightning tonight due to upper-body injury

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Here’s some news Tampa Bay Lightning fans don’t want to hear with the playoffs rapidly approaching: Steven Stamkos won’t play tonight because of an upper-body injury.

That’s the word from the Lightning by way of a variety of reporters including Bryan Burns of the team site.

Update: Oof, the follow-up is ugly: Stamkos will miss one-to-three months because of a blood clot in his arm. Scary stuff.

As usual, there isn’t much information beyond Stamkos missing Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

There was, however, at least a slight warning that we wouldn’t “see Stamkos.”

Hmm. Hopefully that means that the Lightning are merely erring on the side of caution, here.

With Stamkos out, it’s that much tougher for the Lightning to catch the Florida Panthers for the Atlantic Division title. There is one plus, however: “The Triplets” trio of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov are reunited in Stamkos’ absence.

Perhaps that setback will help them find that outstanding chemistry from last season once more?

Nikita Zadorov suffered a concussion from that Tom Wilson hit


The Colorado Avalanche are hurting in more ways than one following Friday’s 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals.

However you feel about Tom Wilson‘s hit on Nikita Zadorov, it’s clear that it left Zadorov with an injury.

Patrick Roy confirmed that the young defenseman suffered a concussion from that thunderous check, which was not penalized. The Colorado Avalanche didn’t provide further details regarding how long Zadorov will be out because of that concussion.

The Avs only have four games left in the regular season. While they’re not technically eliminated, last night’s loss made it tough to imagine them playing beyond game 82 … so there’s a chance we might not see Zadorov again this season.

Was it worthy of a suspension or worse? Decide for yourself in the video above.

Fight videos: Sissons and Eaves brawl, Dumba vs. Shaw


Tuesday was a busy night, and that meant some fights might have slipped under the radar.

For one thing, you can see this post, which includes a big Alexei Emelin hit and then Emelin dropping the gloves with Justin Abdelkader.

Next, you have the fight above: bushy-bearded Patrick Eaves takes on Colton Sissons. Eighty-percent of Hockey Fights voters gave Eaves and his facial hair the win there.

Finally, let’s round things out with Mathew Dumba vs. Andrew Shaw:

Hockey Fights voters found that bout especially tough to call.

PHT Morning Skate: Late hits, Couture’s hat trick and unsealed emails


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

As you can see in the video above, Jake Virtanen received a game misconduct for a late hit on Roman Polak. At the bottom of this post, you’ll note Logan Couture‘s first career hat trick.

The Globe & Mail doesn’t just archive unsealed emails between the likes of Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and Colin Campbell. They also made the archive searchable. Have fun … or maybe wait until after work before you go down that rabbit hole. (Globe & Mail)

Adam Oates responds to his critics in the latest edition of the always-essential “30 Thoughts” from Elliotte Friedman. (Sportsnet)

Ranking each Canadian NHL team’s chances of making the playoffs next season. (The Hockey News)

Eric Engels sat down for a Q & A with Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland. (Sportsnet)

That time Gordie Howe needed to wear a helmet. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

The Winnipeg Jets are experimenting with a new “recovery method.” (TSN)