James O'Brien

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

Rough stuff in Bolts – Sabres: Kane jabs at Bishop, Hedman vs. Foligno


However you weigh in on some of the violence from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 4-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres, it sure seems like the two teams have a healthy distaste for each other.

Two moments stand out, in particular, from Thursday’s game.

For one thing, Evander Kane received a two-minute penalty for high-sticking, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a 10-minute misconduct for taking this jab at Ben Bishop:

For what it’s worth, the Sabres have a different side of that story:

Circling back to that earlier point, either way, we know these teams don’t seem to like each other.

Watch as Victor Hedman gets in a rare fight with Marcus Foligno in the video above this post’s headline. Judging by this post’s main image (featuring Hedman in a scuffle with then-Sabres pest Steve Ott), the Sabres have a knack for making the big Bolts blueliner angry.

The two teams meet again, but not until a March 4 game in Buffalo, so some of those hard feelings are likely to settle down. Then again, hockey players tend to have long memories …

Sullivan gets ejected as Penguins suffer rare consecutive regulation losses


The Pittsburgh Penguins have been on fire almost since the moment that Mike Sullivan took over as head coach, so we haven’t received that many glimpses of his “dark side.”

Officials apparently saw enough of that to throw him out of the Penguins’ eventual 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. You can see that rare spectacle in the video above.

Maybe Sullivan’s simply not used to losing. As many note, this is the first time that the Penguins have suffered consecutive regulation losses since mid-December in 2015, so Sullivan hasn’t had much to be sore about.

Dubnyk vs. Price was far from a goalie duel as Wild humble Habs


On paper, Thursday’s Montreal Canadiens – Minnesota Wild game looked like it could be a Vezina finalist battle between Carey Price and Devan Dubnyk. Instead, it seemed to highlight the distance between the two goalies and teams.

For just the fifth time in his career, Price allowed 7 goals as the Wild just kept scoring and scoring. Tomas Plekanec played the shutout spoiler for Dubnyk, but a 7-1 win was still an emphatic statement by the blazing-hot Wild.

(It turns out Eric Staal‘s strong play and the two goals in 39 seconds was just part of the story.)

On one hand, Montreal was closing off a back-to-back set with their own seven-goal win from Wednesday. Also, nights like these are rare for Price:

On the other, this hasn’t been the only night that Price has struggled lately.

Price has given up 14 goals in his last three games and has allowed at least four tallies five times since Dec. 16. You can slice it up plenty of other ways, but things haven’t been going smoothly in recent weeks.

As this post notes, things have gone just about the opposite way for Staal, Dubnyk and the Wild. With three points on Thursday, Eric Staal now has 38 points in 40 games. Dubnyk fell short of his sixth shutout of 2016-17, but he’s still on fire, and the Wild are now on a 14-1-1 run since Dec. 4.


Chalk it up to Dubnyk, that underrated offense, Bruce Boudreau or some combination of those factors, but maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised by tonight’s result. Then again, does a 7-1 outcome ever feel normal?

Certainly not for a team with Price on it.

Nathan MacKinnon reminds us that he’s crazy-fast, too (Video)


Deep down, you have to wonder if Nathan MacKinnon‘s a little jealous.

There was a time early in his career where he dominated highlight reels with displays of his ability to pair blazing speed with high-end skill. Those elements remain, but he’s been upstaged on a regular basis by even-more-renowned top pick Connor McDavid.

(Heck, sometimes even less-hyped players like Phillip Danault steal the show.)

Yeah, things haven’t been as bright for MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche lately, with people even wondering how limited MacKinnon might end up being by underwhelming shooting rates. Thursday presented a reminder for why people were so excited about the Avs forward in the first place, though, as he caught multiple Anaheim Ducks flat-footed* for the beautiful goal you can see in the video above.

* – Caught them web-footed, maybe?

Video: Oilers did a nice job in Taylor Hall’s return to Edmonton

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There may still be some mixed feelings between Taylor Hall and his former team, but hand it to the Oilers for providing a great tribute to his time with Edmonton in his return tonight.

As you can see from the video above, fans gave him a nice ovation and the team acknowledged his charitable work in the area during his six seasons with the team.

Maybe the on-ice work didn’t pan out like many hoped, but he was a big part of the team, and the Oilers acknowledged it.

Want more? This is pretty good stuff, too:

For those who believe that the New Jersey Devils got the best of that Adam Larsson deal in particular, tonight’s probably a somewhat awkward night. At least the Oilers handled this part of the process splendidly, however.