James O'Brien

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

Senators lose Bobby Ryan (and lose big to Predators)

Are the Ottawa Senators primed to be the next team to suffer a wave of injuries?

The Senators were already without important (if struggling) forward Mike Hoffman against the Nashville Predators on Thursday; now they’ll play the remainder of tonight’s game without Bobby Ryan.

The team’s official announcement is that it’s an upper-body injury. They didn’t give an indication regarding how serious the ailment might be, at least beyond it ending his night early.

TSN’s Steve Lloyd wonders if it might be a hand issue, which is especially cruel to Ryan, who apparently fought through similar issues the past two seasons.

For a guy who lives off his nifty hands like Ryan, you wonder how much more productive he might be if he had a little better luck in this area.

Perhaps this time it will be a mere bump in the the road …

Update: It was a rough night for the Senators either way, as the Nashville Predators clobbered them 5-1. James Neal continued his hot streak:

The Senators aren’t sure about Ryan’s status, although this cryptic comment is a little troubling.

Video: Mighty Mitch Marner with a triple-deke beauty


When Auston Matthews exploded onto the scene with his four-goal game, a lot of Toronto Maple Leafs opponents were quick to note that Mitch Marner was looking great, too.

Marner’s work probably won’t sneak up on hockey fans much longer.

He gets bonus cool points on his goal on Thursday, which reminds many of the “triple deke” fun from the Mighty Ducks movies.

ESPN’s John Buccigross captured that part in GIF form:

Watch the goal in its full beauty in the video below. He already has seven goals in 2016-17.

Bruised Blues: Tarasenko can play, but Steen is out


Both Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen were game-time decisions for the St. Louis Blues against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, with Tarasenko getting the green light while Steen can’t go.

Steen likely suffered his ailment thanks to a hit by Buffalo Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges (which prompted a memorable response by Robby Fabbri).

Ty Rattie and Robert Bortuzzo (who was just activated off of IR) are the only scratches for the Blues tonight.

Nail Yakupov gets a chance to cement his place in the lineup by drawing back in.


Looks like Kings are on the verge of getting healthier


When the Los Angeles Kings face the Edmonton Oilers tonight, they’ll likely still be without some key pieces thanks to injuries.

Perhaps they’re at least starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel, though?

Wednesday’s practice saw some key returns, even though Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Andy Andreoff were all “demonstrating varying degrees of game readiness,” according to LA Kings Insider.

It was the first time Gaborik’s skated with teammates since getting injured, while Kopitar’s far enough along that he needs to say that he’s unlikely to play against Edmonton.

Does this make things any less “desperate” for a Kings team that’s dropped four in a row? Probably not, but at least this provides the team with a little extra hope.

And, if nothing else, they’re in the thick of things in the surprisingly weak West’s bubble that they might be able to recover once some key players heal up.

(Just don’t expect Jonathan Quick to return anytime soon.)

Let’s find John Tavares some scoring help


Newsday’s Arthur Staple reports that the New York Islanders are “trying hard” to find a forward amid increasing scrutiny of head coach Jack Capuano and their general scorers.

That’s a great idea, because sometimes it’s tough to wonder how John Tavares doesn’t lose his mind considering the lack of support around him.

Although to get a goal-goalscorer, Staple says that GM Garth Snow might need to offer one of Joshua Ho-Sang, Anthony Beauvillier or Mathew Barzal, so keep that in mind as we take a quick run through some potential options for the Islanders:

Names floating around

Some other possibilities

  • Evander Kane‘s name has been attached to trade rumors involving the Vancouver Canucks, but why shouldn’t the Islanders consider him as a reclamation project?
  • Radim Vrbata seemingly plays his best hockey in Arizona, yet the team is always looking to add prospects and/or picks. Perhaps he’d be a lower-rent option, especially since his cheap deal ends after this season? Staple believes the Isles had someone watching the Flames-Coyotes game on Wednesday, for what it’s worth.
  • James van Riemsdyk recently enjoyed arguably his best game as a member of the Maple Leafs. With a roster brimming with young talent that could eventually push him down the lineup, perhaps the Leafs would consider parting with him.
  • This one’s maybe the biggest shot in the dark, but what about Andrew Cogliano? The Anaheim Ducks are always trying to save some bucks, so perhaps the speedy forward could help in Brooklyn? He does already have five goals in 17 games, though on the other hand, he only nine all of last season.


Consider that a bit of brainstorming on this issue for the Islanders, but there are plenty of other options. There’s still hope that Snow will pull another rabbit out of his hat when it comes to identifying a waiver wire bargain, among other possibilities. Or, perhaps instead of trading a player like Ho-Sang, they should call him up and see if he can score himself. Ditto for Michael Dal Colle.

Either way, something needs to change, or else people may start a #SaveJohnTavares hashtag.

Feel free to add your ideas in the comments.