James O'Brien

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

Anton Stralman hopes to return if Lightning make second round

To little surprise, the Detroit Red Wings are making big changes going into Game 3. Still, with all the injury issues striking the Tampa Bay Lightning, some might want to see them make tweaks of their own.

Unfortunately for those who are impatient to see returning Bolts, it sounds like the waiting game(s) will continue.

Anton Stralman is apparently making progress, but it’s likely of the slow-and-steady variety. He’s still canceled out of this first-round series against the Red Wings; anything beyond that – if the Lightning manage to advance – is also a coin flip right now.

That’s the word from reporters including Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.

Considering how serious that leg injury is, it’s reasonable that the Lightning aren’t rushing Stralman back.

In other Lightning notes, J.T. Brown‘s injury apparently opened the door for Erik Condra to get back into the mix for Tampa Bay.

This post discusses what the Lightning are losing with Brown out of action.

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

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The Stanley Cup playoffs continue on Sunday and the NBC Sports group has you covered with extended coverage across both television and digital platforms.

Here is the full slate …

St. Louis at Chicago (3:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 3 will be on NBC, with Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Tampa Bay at Detroit (7:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 3 will be on CNBC, with Bob Cole, Garry Galley and Craig Simpson. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Florida at NY Islanders (8:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 3 will be on NBCSN, with Chris Cuthbert and Joe Micheletti. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Nashville at Anaheim (10:30 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBCSN, with John Forslund and Bret Hedican. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Peruse some links to get you ready:

– Ken Hitchcock stirred the pot about the Blackhawks getting more calls than the Blues. Will that affect Game 3?

– Hitchcock was referencing that controversial offside goal review, which you can read about here.

– Few expected the Lightning and Red Wings to get this nasty.

– Take a look at the milestones Jaromir Jagr could potentially reach in the playoffs.

– Success has been a long-time coming for both the Panthers and Islanders.

– The Predators took Game 1 from the Ducks.

Red Wings make Game 3 tweaks, including starting Mrazek


Staring at a 2-0 deficit as their series heads back to Detroit, it’s not exactly shocking that the Red Wings are making changes for Game 3.

The most immediately apparent change will be in net as Petr Mrazek takes the reins from Jimmy Howard.

Whether you put a lot or very little blame on Howard’s shoulders, changing goalies was one of the most natural tweaks, especially since Mrazek carried the ball for most of the 2015-16 season. Howard finished the season strong to wrestle the starting job back, but now that’s in flux.

The other significant change is that the Red Wings are tweaking just about everything as far as their lines go, including splitting up Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, according to MLive.com’s Ansar Khan.

Justin Abdelkader gets a demotion, though it could make for a nice depth line:

It also looks like Brendan Smith will take Kyle Quincey‘s spot alongside Danny DeKeyser.

(Keep in mind that lines can fluctuate, especially during the playoffs.)

With home-ice advantage shifting and some pretty big lineup changes, things will look different for Detroit, yet it remains to be seen if they’ll yield the right sort of results.

Stopping the Lightning’s red-hot line would be a good place to start …

Now Hitchcock says Blues ‘need to move on’ from goal review


Let out a sigh of relief: Ken Hitchcock is going to stop milking that goal review controversy. For now.

He urged his St. Louis Blues to move on as Game 3 rapidly approaches in Chicago on Sunday, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

“That’s probably for summer time conversation,” Hitchcock said. “I’m sure there’ll be lots of discussion. That (offside call) will be a video that will get played over and over again, but for right now, all I know is it’s a call that went against us and we need to move on and get ready for (Sunday) afternoon.”

It’s amusing to see Hitchcock basically follow the coach’s blueprint for situations like these.

Step 1: Plead for make-up calls either implicitly or explicitly (Hitch was pretty close to outright demanding them).

Step 2: Change course and act like you’re above the fray.

Step 3: ?

Step 4: Profit

Well, the process goes something like that.

In all seriousness, it would be silly for Hitchcock to leave any stone un-turned, particularly with patience for a Blues’ first-round exit likely at an all-time low. If his reactions inspire a ref not to blow a whistle with the fear of looking “one-sided” even once during the rest of the series, it’s worth every word Hitchcock uttered in reaction to that memorable fiasco.

It might be beneficial for those comments to stick in the mind of officials, but Hitchcock’s justified in hoping that the Blues focus on their world-class opponent in the Blackhawks.

Penguins send Tom Sestito back to the AHL

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The Pittsburgh Penguins re-assigned tough guy Tom Sestito back to the AHL on Sunday.

While the Penguins and New York Rangers are engaging in the typical rough stuff you’d expect from a first-round series between two familiar adversaries, it’s not as if Sestito was a factor. He last suited up for the Penguins on April 9.

He appeared in four regular season games for the Penguins in 2015-16. He only saw three games of NHL action the season before in Vancouver, so it’s reasonable to wonder how often he’ll pop up from the AHL going forward.

The Penguins and Rangers will vie for a 2-1 series lead when the series resumes in New York on Tuesday.