James O'Brien

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

Spaced out: Red Wings rally from two-goal deficit to beat Panthers


Hopefully Kevin Spacey isn’t a frontrunner like a character in “House of Cards.”

The famous actor was given a strange-yet-warm greeting by the Florida Panthers on Saturday, drawing a record crowd to their building.

Unfortunately, the “Usual Suspects” star* saw the Panthers unravel after generating a 3-1 lead, dropping a 5-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

Apparently this is at least a small (but troubling) trend for the Panthers:

MORE: All about Spacey embracing “Spacey in Space.”

Still, it’s tough to totally dissolve the good feelings of such an unlikely night. As of this moment, the Panthers aren’t just in playoff position; they’re still atop the Atlantic Division. (Late games for the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning will influence the size of that buffer.)

* – PHT resisted the urge to sarcastically list some weird/bad Spacey flicks, but feel free to cherry pick from his IMDB page if you’re bored.

Pack your four-leaf clover: 2016 NHL Draft Lottery reportedly set for April 30


For fans of tanking/struggling teams, you aren’t really circling games on a calendar.

(Do teams really do that, anyway? Seems very cinematic …)

Instead, you’re looking beyond 2015-16 to the off-season, and it appears as if there is a new date of importance. The Draft Lottery for the 2016 NHL Draft will happen on April 30, according to Sportsnet’s Damien Cox.

That’s been backed up by other outlets, and also by Cox’s Sportsnet colleague Elliotte Friedman.

As of today, the Toronto Maple Leafs have the best odds, with a 20 percent chance to land the No. 1 pick. TSN provides regularly updated “standings,” which will serve as an added insult for fans of Canadian NHL teams.

More here.

House of Cats? Kevin Spacey takes in Panthers game, ‘Spacey in Space’


You can say a lot of things about the Florida Panthers, Kevin Spacey and “Spacey in Space,” but you cannot claim that they’re ignoring this weird little meme.

Saturday marks the culmination of that strange fixation between the NHL team and the beloved actor, with Spacey on hand to breathe in the oddness of it all.

The Panthers went the extra mile in promoting “Spacey in Space” by handing out Spacey masks.

It’s … well, weird.

Here’s video of him being shown at the game:

Remember, the “House of Cards” star did little to hide his trip:

Beyond the whole “hockey game with playoff implications” thing, it wasn’t the only noteworthy presentation, as Jaromir Jagr got some attention as well:

Certainly seems like an especially great night to soak in a Panthers game.

Update: Unfortunately, despite a record crowd, the Panthers fell to the Red Wings by a score of 5-3.

Rangers left angry after ‘garbage’ loss to Sharks


Henrik Lundqvist basically faced a game’s worth of shots in the first two periods of Saturday’s game against the San Jose Sharks, and he finally bucked in the final frame.

The Sharks scored three goals in a little more than third period to beat the New York Rangers by a score of 4-1, firing a ridiculous 52 shots on goal overall.

With a closed-door meeting after the game and plenty of angry quotes, it was clear that the Rangers realized how poorly they played today.

New York Newsday’s Steve Zipay collected some blistering comments from the Rangers following that loss, with some highlights being:

“Not competing hard”


Hanging Lundqvist out to dry

While the Sharks continue to stick with it in the competitive Pacific races, the Metro situation suddenly looks a little less comfortable for the Rangers. The Pittsburgh Penguins are closing fast in that regard, and maybe that fuels that fire a little bit more?

The Rangers get a chance to respond with a home game against the Florida Panthers on Monday.

Looks like the Stars will get John Klingberg back vs. Islanders


With Tyler Seguin merely hoping to be healthy by the time the playoffs start, the Dallas Stars could use some good injury news.

It looks like they’re getting some on Saturday, as John Klingberg looks all but ready to return as the Stars face the New York Islanders.

If the warm-ups are any indication, the Stars are opting to ease Klingberg back into the lineup, though the time on ice numbers may ultimately tell a different story:

The Stars are facing an Islanders team that should have plenty of motivation after seeing the Pittsburgh Penguins take the third spot in the Metropolitan Division. Klingberg may be enough for Dallas to win what could be a high-scoring game.