James O'Brien

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

Video: Amazing Mrazek flashes the glove

1 Comment

It’s been a disappointing start to the season for Detroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mazek. Maybe Jimmy Howard being forced out of the lineup for at least a week will force Mrazek to dig deep and regain his confidence?

Well, if nothing else, he made one of the best saves we’ve seen so far in 2016-17 in thwarting an Artturi Lehkonen scoring attempt.

Seriously, that’s some impressive stuff in the video above this post’s headline. Maybe we’ll see a little swagger repair for a goalie who’s shown plenty of signs of brilliance in the past?

Puck to the head? No big deal for Barry Trotz (Video)

1 Comment

Think fast: if someone asked you to name a coach who’d shrug off a puck to the head like it was nothing, who would it be?

Chances are high that many hockey fans would blurt out “Barry Trotz,” and not just because this headline spoils the punchline.

As much as Trotz can spin a yarn with the best of them – just watch a Trotz press conference on the right night for “story time” – one look at him and you know he’s not messing around.

Even if it’s not the most shocking development, it’s OK to gape in awe as Trotz gave a puck to the head the “no big deal” during Saturday’s Washington Capitals – Toronto Maple Leafs game.

Good luck explaining why you didn’t block that shot, Capitals players.

Maple Leafs organization suspends Garret Sparks indefinitely for remarks

Getty
30 Comments

The Toronto Maple Leafs organization suspended goalie Garret Sparks for comments he made on Nov. 22, according to TSN.

Sparks, 23, violated team policy by using “violent and sexist language” on Facebook earlier this week. The decision comes with some controversy, as it appears that he was responding to remarks about a disabled person.

Pension Plan Puppets’ Scott Wheeler took a screenshot of the exchange, which probably qualifies as “NSFW.”

Here’s an edited version of what Sparks wrote:

“Tyler, where do you live? I want to go to open hockey with you, drag you out to center ice and beat you into a [expletive] pulp until you can’t run that [expletive] little mouth of yours. God, you sound like a 13-year-old girl.”

When someone replied “Don’t insult girls,” Sparks apologized but then wrote “Girls don’t even whine as much as this guy does.”

Again, the Maple Leafs haven’t provided a specific timetable for this suspension. Sparks saw some NHL action last season but has been playing for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies in 2016-17.

Kings continue to heal up with Gaborik off IR

Getty
2 Comments

It’s easy to dismiss the Los Angeles Kings’ improving outlook by noting that they’re still vulnerable with Jonathan Quick out, but hey, they are getting healthier.

While it isn’t a guarantee that he’ll actually play against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight, the Kings must still be heartened to see veteran winger Marian Gaborik activated off of injured reserve.

Along with fighting through games without Quick, the Kings have had to improvise without the likes of Gaborik and Anze Kopitar so far in 2016-17.

Their 11-9-1 record won’t blow anyone’s mind, but considering their current four-game winning streak, there are signs of progress.

This weekend begins an interesting stretch for the Kings. They face three challenging home games in their next four games and must stock up points with a brutal nine-game road trip looming from Dec. 13-29.

Here’s the upcoming schedule:

Tonight: vs. Blackhawks
Wednesday: vs. Sharks
Thursday: at Coyotes
Dec. 4: vs. Canadiens
Dec. 8: vs. Hurricanes
Dec. 10: vs. Senators

They could certainly benefit from someone like Gaborik chipping in during that stretch, whether he’s good to go now or later.

Chad Johnson keeps making argument for Flames’ top job

Getty
2 Comments

BOSTON (AP) Chad Johnson made 35 saves and Alex Chiasson broke a tie at 7:05 of the third period in Calgary Flames’ 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Friday night.

Coming off a 2-0 victory Wednesday night at Columbus, Johnson allowed only David Pastrnak‘s goal off a rebound at 5:55 of the third period.

Sam Bennett had a goal and an assist to help Calgary win for the third time in four games. Bennett set up winner with a backhand pass from behind the net right to Chiasson, who easily beat goalie Anton Khudobin as he scrambled to get back across.

Boston has lost three straight and four of five.

Khudobin, recalled Friday from Providence of the AHL after a brief conditioning assignment, stopped 27 shots in his first start since Oct. 22.

Khudobin needed to be sharp early as Calgary outshot Boston 13-5 in the first period and took a 1-0 lead on Bennett’s goal at 8:36.Bennett skated through a pair of Boston players outside the blue line and got in alone on Khudobin, beating him with a wrist shot.

It was the only goal of the game until Pastrnak knocked in a rebound during a scrum in front of Johnson 5:55 into the third. John-Michael Liles and Tim Schaller assisted on the goal, Boston’s first since Pastrnak scored with 11 seconds left in the first period Thursday night in a 3-1 loss at Ottawa.

The Bruins had an apparent goal disallowed 3:01 into the second after Patrice Bergeron intercepted a clearing attempt by Johnson and shot it in from the right corner. Johnson was scrambling to get up off the ice after being knocked down by Mark Giordano and the Flames challenged, getting the goal overturned after a video review showed Boston’s Brad Marchand interfered by knocking Giordano into his own goaltender.

Notes: Boston played its second straight game without D Zdeno Chara, who left Tuesday night’s loss to St. Louis early in the second period with an undisclosed lower-body injury. … The Bruins sent G Zane McIntyre to Atlanta of the ECHL. … Calgary LW Johnny Goudreau missed his sixth straight game with a broken finger. … Johnson hadn’t allowed a goal since Anthony Mantha scored for Detroit at 7:59 of the third period Sunday.

UP NEXT

Flames: At Philadelphia on Sunday night in the fifth of six games on the road.

Bruins: Host Tampa Bay on Sunday.