James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Video: Steven Stamkos hits the 30-goal mark

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Whether Steven Stamkos remains in Tampa Bay or goes to Toronto (or somewhere else?), chances are, he’ll be scoring at least 30 goals during most healthy seasons.

He hit that mark once again on Sunday, finishing off a one-timer setup from Nikita Kucherov to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

As the Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith notes, this is the fifth time that Stamkos has scored at least 30 goals in a season.

Should we expect 40 this season?

Penguins beat Rangers, game-winner likely makes Lundqvist mad again

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Hey, the Pittsburgh Penguins get a lucky break now and then, too.

(And not just when Craig Patrick won the Sidney Crosby lottery many moons ago …)

Amid the doom and gloom of the bad news about Evgeni Malkin‘s health, the Penguins generated a hearty effort in beating the New York Rangers 5-3 on Sunday.

It was the kind of effort that required a certain amount of moxie; the Penguins gave up three one-goal leads before their 4-3 tally held up.

It was also the sort of game that probably left Henrik Lundqvist livid … again, as that 4-3 goal was a real gut punch:

Ouch.

This has been a frustrating start to March for Lundqvist: the “baby stuff” loss to the Penguins which involved an injury, Saturday’s loss that left him “seething” and now this defeat. All that work and the Rangers leave this weekend with a single point.

The Penguins get two crucial ones here, thanks in part to a two-goal effort from Conor Sheary.

If Pittsburgh wants to reach the postseason, they’ll need to hang in there. They showed a solid knack for rolling with the punches against the Rangers today.

Video: Conor Sheary racks up two goals for Penguins

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With Evgeni Malkin out for what looks like at least the rest of the regular season, the Pittsburgh Penguins need different players to step up.

So far, Conor Sheary is doing that for the Penguins on Sunday, as he enters the third period against the New York Rangers with two goals.

Let’s take a look at both tallies.

Here’s his first goal, which was a deft deflection of a Justin Schultz shot:

And here is Sheary’s second tally:

We’ll see if Sheary can make it three. Tune in to NBC to follow along. You can also stream it via this link.

Blue Jackets get Brandon Saad back on Sunday

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The Columbus Blue Jackets carry some spoiler potential, and that’s only heightened with Brandon Saad back into the lineup.

Saad last played on March 4 because of an upper-body injury, but he’ll return to the mix as the Blue Jackets take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight.

He already generated a career-high in goals (24) during his debut season with the Blue Jackets, so there’s early promise after signing a hefty new contract.

It looks like he’ll form a nice third offensive line with William Karlsson and Matt Calvert:

Red Wings expect Kronwall (knee) to miss 1-3 weeks

Maybe Niklas Kronwall‘s knee injury isn’t as troublesome as Saturday’s report from Sportsnet’s Damien Cox indicated, though we’ll ultimately need to wait and see.

Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an estimate of a one-to-three week window of recovery for Kronwall, who underwent an MRI to reveal a sprained knee.

Cox’s report indicated that the Red Wings were hoping that Kronwall might return toward the “end of the season,” which would imply something closer to four weeks.

Now, some general managers may provide overly optimistic updates. Recovery windows can be pretty fluid even if there’s no “smokescreen” action, especially for injuries like Kronwall’s sprained knee.

Three weeks vs. four might seem to be of questionable relevance, but having Kronwall for a few extra games could make a big difference in the Red Wings’ playoff push. Only being without him for a week would be even more significant.

In the grand scheme of things, plenty is still up in the air, but this update seems quite promising.