James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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WATCH LIVE: Sharks at Kings – Wednesday Night Rivalry

Wednesday Night Rivalry’s doubleheader continues on NBCSN with a California clash: the San Jose Sharks at the Los Angeles Kings.

The Sharks sit atop the Pacific Division and the Kings are clinging to a wild card spot, yet those positions can be deceptive. With 27 points in 23 games, the Sharks really need to hold off the rising Kings (just two points behind with a game in hand).

Hockey fans have become accustomed to these two teams fighting it out with serious stakes, so this should be familiar and fantastic.

You can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Here’s the livestream link.

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    Video: Matt Murray robs John Tavares with glove save

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    It’s easy to forget about Matt Murray while discussing Calder candidates – he’s in that Ken Dryden Club of being eligible to be rookie of the year after winning a Stanley Cup – but if he can get enough opportunities, he’s a suitable candidate.

    For some, great numbers on a great team can only go so far. Sometimes you need the big, neon, flashing sign of superb highlight reel stops.

    Things aren’t going the Pittsburgh Penguins’ way overall at the moment against the New York Islanders, yet Murray wowed more than a few people with a glove save on Isles star John Tavares. Enjoy that clip in the video above.

    Getting some bounces – Flames score twice in first minute (Video)

    Things have been ugly for the Calgary Flames so far this season.

    It isn’t tough to get Brian Burke riled up, but still, it’s not ideal when the tie-shirking executive is making such waves and your team isn’t winning. It’s been that sort of start for Calgary.

    Wednesday presented a nice change of pace: a blistering start in their favor. Amusingly enough, one of the Flames’ two scorers in the first minute of tonight’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs was Freddie Hamilton, brother of trade rumor magnet Dougie.

    Watch that welcomed nice start by the Flames in the video above this post’s headline and get more about the Dougie Hamilton rumors in the clip below.

    WATCH LIVE: Penguins at Islanders – Wednesday Night Rivalry

    Of tonight’s three games, two are part of a great edition of Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN.

    The first is a fun one: the Pittsburgh Penguins at the New York Islanders.

    Yes, the Isles are wobbly lately, but it’s rarely a bad time to watch John Tavares vs. Sidney Crosby and the other stars on both sides. This Brooklyn bout shouldn’t be any different.

    You can watch the action online and stream it via the NBC Sports App.

    Click here for the livestream.

    Promising Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana gets his shot

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    Even with T.J. Oshie on the mend, the Washington Capitals boast a bountiful array of prime-age scorers. Imagine if Jakub Vrana becomes the latest quick study of the 2016-17 season.

    Russian Machine Never Breaks captured the reaction of many prospect-minded Caps fans when news surfaced that Vrana was recalled along with Paul Carey: “finally.”

    That’s not to say that it’s been a slow development from the 13th pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, being that he’s only 20.

    Still, you look at these AHL stats and he’s distinguished hismelf in almost every situation (even in limited duty, all stats with the Hershey Bears):

    2014-15: five points in three regular season games, six in 10 playoffs
    2015-16: 34 in 36 regular season games, 14 in 21 playoffs
    2016-17: 16 in 18 games

    Those are the type of numbers that often translate quite nicely to the NHL. As just a quick example, 2016-17 sensation Jonathan Marchessault quietly put up very nice AHL numbers before running with his best chance at the NHL level with the Florida Panthers.

    This isn’t to say that Vrana is going to be a smash success right away, especially since Barry Trotz has, at times, been reluctant to throw rookies in the deep end off the bat.

    Still, there’s a very reasonable chance he could make an impact, and that’s a pretty exciting development for a Capitals team that’s already loaded.

    Zach Sanford was the Capitals player demoted to Hershey to make room for Vrana and Carey.