James O'Brien

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

Blues’ Stastny: ‘History has to change eventually’


There are plenty of ways that the St. Louis Blues can approach what should be a fascinating Game 7 against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday.

Some might find it difficult to shrug off the Blues’ past playoff disappointments and the Blackhawks’ loaded resume of big-game success.

Paul Stastny seems to be taking a healthier approach that almost boils down to “Why not us?”

One can only speculate how the Blues really feel. Maybe they truly will “grip their sticks too tight” against the battle-tested Blackhawks.

It’s been a while since St. Louis hosted a game of this magnitude (and that didn’t go too well).

On the other hand, they’re saying all the right things

… And they’ve shown the ability to shrug off some brutal haymakers before, both during the regular season and in this series.

Oh yeah, most importantly some news: the Blues are sticking with Brian Elliott rather than turning to Jake Allen in Game 7.

Dirty or not? Brayden Schenn’s hit on T.J. Oshie


The Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals have been very physical in Game 6, and it’s possible that T.J. Oshie was injured among the hard hits.

The question is: should it mean a suspension for Brayden Schenn?

Some people believe that Schenn went over the line with a check that prompted Oshie to leave the ice during the second period. There was no penalty on the play.

The two engaged in a fight during the opening moments of Game 5, so there’s some clear history between the two.

Again, more than a few people are calling for supplemental discipline.

Update: One thing that is likely to help Schenn’s cause: Oshie might be OK.

Here’s the goal that finally beat Michal Neuvirth


Michal Neuvirth has been the Philadelphia Flyers’ hero lately, but he’s not Superman.

After a remarkable shutout in Game 5, Neuvirth once again kept the Washington Capitals off the board during the first period of Game 6. Eventually, even the hottest goalie faces a shot that’s just too perfectly placed.

That was the case with a great Nicklas Backstrom goal set up by some strong work from Alex Ovechkin, which you can watch in the video above.

Some tidbits about Neuvirth’s strong run:

Now he needs some help from the sputtering Flyers offense, which failed to convert on a lengthy 5-on-3 opportunity in the middle frame.

Vincent Lecavalier says he’s going to retire


When the Los Angeles Kings made that slightly startling trade to acquire Vincent Lecavalier, the plan was for the veteran to retire. Some solid work with Los Angeles apparently didn’t change that plan.

While the former Tampa Bay Lightning star hasn’t actually made it official as far as paperwork goes – he told reporters that the Kings’ playoff exit is still a little “too fresh” on his mind – he’s sticking to his guns about retiring.

He finishes his career with a Stanley Cup ring, four All-Star nods and a Maurice Richard Trophy. He generated 949 points in 1,212 regular season games between the Lighting, Philadelphia Flyers and Kings.

The Hall of Fame debate should be intriguing.

No, Stars aren’t expecting Seguin back for Game 6


The Dallas Stars are once again attempting to close out the Minnesota Wild, and in another repeat occurrence, they’ll be doing so without Tyler Seguin.

The report is that Seguin remains day-to-day and will not be available for Game 6, according to Mark Stepneski of Stars Inside Edge.

About a week ago, it became clear that Seguin “aggravated something” and could not perform after his brief return to action in Game 2. That’s the only contest he’s been able to suit up for so far in the playoffs, opening the door for questions about whether he returned to action too soon.

Mistake or not, the situation is what it is.

It would be interesting to see how the Stars would handle Seguin if the Wild manage to push this series to a decisive Game 7.