James O'Brien

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

Video: Laine’s goal was the game-winner (and mind-blower)


Patrik Laine will probably score a lot of goals like these. Expect many “Never gets old no matter how many times you see them” goals.

Let’s not get jaded, though.

Laine’s eventual 3-2 game-winner for the Winnipeg Jets against the New Jersey Devils was, to an extent, pretty simple. It was also simply awe-inspiring, one of those goals that force a double or triple-take:

Even with the slumps mentioned in that video, Laine already has 13 goals this season. He’s going to score a LOT during his career.

As a bonus, Patrick Marleau seemingly scored similar goal, yet from his backhand … but it didn’t actually count. Let’s save you a click by plopping it in here, because it’s still worth watching:

Mason plays like last season, carries Flyers past Bruins


After riding great goaltending to a playoff spot last season, most of the Philadelphia Flyers’ best 2016-17 moments have come despite Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth.

Mason turned back the clock about a year against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. It’s one of those performances that might prompt optimistic Flyers fans to wonder if Mason will turn things around going forward.

In a way, his enthusiastic celebration after a 3-2 shootout win seemed a little over-the-top, yet can you really blame him?

For one thing, it’s been a rough ride for Mason, who came into Tuesday with an ugly .892 save percentage and 5-8-3 record. He deserves an enormous share of the credit for this win as the Bruins rattled off a gaudy 47-21 shots on goal advantage.

Mason and Tuukka Rask (19 of 21 saves) were tested often in an exciting shootout after the Bruins stormed back from a 2-0 deficit to send this game beyond regulation.

With two straight wins and home games in four of their next six, this is an opportunity for Mason and the Flyers to build up confidence and standings points. They probably can’t count on Mason to do this every night, yet it was a nice thing to see nonetheless.

WATCH LIVE: Matthews and the Leafs vs. McDavid and the Oilers


It was a memorable stretch that will likely be a blip on the radar of their careers: Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid on Team North America, scoring beautiful goals.

That was great, but hey, McDavid vs. Matthews could end up being even more bewitching.

NBCSN will join Tuesday’s Toronto Maple Leafs – Edmonton Oilers game in progress, to what should be the delight of many hockey fans. Of course, the best part is that these teams are about more than their stars … but oh, what stars these two are.

You can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

Should Lightning be worried after tough loss to Blue Jackets?


Maybe it’s because they miss Steven Stamkos more than some anticipated. Maybe it’s just a tough stretch. Maybe the Tampa Bay Lightning should be worried?

Either way, it was a grim Tuesday for the Bolts, who dropped their third straight game via a lopsided 5-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. This loss also marks the Lightning’s fourth regulation defeat in their last five games.

It’s not just the losses, but how the Lightning keep losing. Take a look at this three-game skid:

Friday: 5-3 loss vs. Blue Jackets
Sunday: 4-1 loss at Bruins
Tonight: 5-1 loss at Blue Jackets

Losing by a combined score of 14-5, and particularly allowing so many goals, has to be a little troubling for Tampa Bay. They’ve now allowed 30+ shots on goal in seven straight contests.

At 13-10-1, the Lightning are by no means in crisis mode. They’ve already experienced one other stretch where they’ve lost four of five (from Oct. 27 to Nov. 3), so this isn’t totally foreign territory.

Even so, it’s reasonable to at least bring up the question.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets stand as a team capable of blowing just about anyone out. With a 12-5-4 record, they’re exceeding virtually all expectations.

Jack’s back: Sabres overcome Hoffman’s hat trick, end Sens’ streak


It probably felt like ages for Buffalo Sabres fans to finally see Jack Eichel score his first goal of the 2016-17 season.

He made sure not to take too long to do so in his season debut, then.

Eichel found the net less than halfway through the first period of tonight’s game against the Ottawa Senators. Watch that tally in the video below:

Eichel also assisted on another power-play goal when Kyle Okposo made it 1-0 about 6:16 into the contest, so he also has his first assist of the season in his first 10 minutes.

Yes, Eichel has been missed, yet he’s not exactly procrastinating.


It’s not all good news for Buffalo tonight, as Robin Lehner left the contest early with an injury.

Update: Eichel and Ryan O'Reilly were among the stars of the night for the Sabres, who scored three of their five goals on the power play. Mike Hoffman generated a hat trick for Ottawa, yet it wasn’t enough; Buffalo won 5-4 to end the Senators’ winning streak at four games.

That had been the NHL’s second-longest active streak behind the Los Angeles Kings’ five consecutive wins, by the way.