James O'Brien

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

Just for Men: Vlad (The Dad) Tarasenko

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The 2016 Western Conference Final shows the sometimes-drastic gulf between the heavily bearded and the lightly bearded.

Brent Burns, Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks highlight the hairiest portion, while St. Louis Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko represents the other end of the spectrum.

(Bask in Burns’ bearded glory here.)

Tarasenko shows that facial hair isn’t the only measure of a man, as glorious as those Sharks look in their face-sweaters. Tarsenko has been an absolute beast at times during the 2016 postseason, and if that wasn’t enough, he even became a father.

We kind of need to call him “Vlad the Dad” from now on, don’t we?

PHT Morning Skate: Son does play-by-play for blind father

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

On the Tampa Bay Lightning’s focus on puck possession. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Cool stuff for us NERDS

Looks like everything went smoothly for Claude Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere:

That video above is fantastic. Watch it.

Good for a laugh:

Always sucks getting stuck to that loud tattoo'd guy at the airport gate.

A post shared by James Duthie (@tsnduthie) on

Offer sheets are rare, but imaginary ones to fill time during the slow hockey summer? Those are probably pretty common, so here’s some details for your armchair general managing:

Hitchcock: Blues ‘are fortunate’ series vs. Sharks is 1-1

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This time, the St. Louis Blues didn’t get away with playing an uninspired home game against the San Jose Sharks.

That seems to be the takeaway from Ken Hitchcock after watching the Sharks beat his Blues 4-0 in Game 2 to tie the series 1-1.

“We seem to want to play a little different at home than we do on the road,” Hitchcock said. “We got away with it in Game 1 and didn’t get away with it today at all. They were much better than us probably in every aspect, especially on special teams.”

Hitchcock noted that the Blues “don’t have the foot-speed of other teams” and didn’t feel great about the way St. Louis managed the puck.

He believes they can “clean up” issues on the PK and, in general, “catch up.”

On the other end, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer bragged about a strength that might be on San Jose’s side rather than on the side of the Blues.

Burns, Sharks burn Blues, tie series 1-1

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The San Jose Sharks handled the St. Louis Blues in just about every way to tie the Western Conference Final 1-1.

Brian Elliott deserves credit for helping the Blues stay in the game, but other than that, the Sharks were pretty dominant in winning 4-0.

One area that really jumps out at you is special teams play.

Officiating was a storyline coming into Game 2, and there were plenty of whistles on Tuesday night. The difference was that the Sharks took advantage of their opportunities (with two Brent Burns power-play goals) while the Blues’ man advantage put out a very flat effort. St. Louis did very little on a high-sticking double-minor to Patrick Marleau and squandered other key chances.

The even-strength game was pretty soundly dominated by the Sharks, as well.

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(Score-adjusted possession chart via Hockey stats.)

Of course, Martin Jones was also very sound in earning a 26-save shutout.

It’s the kind of effort that likely left the Sharks feeling very confident.

A couple new high-marks were set in Sharks’ playoff history as they won this one.

Even with all those negatives along with some bumps and bruises, this was still just one contest, and the series now shifts to San Jose tied.

That said, it’s probably not a bold prediction to expect Ken Hitchcock to let his team have it after this listless defeat.

Bumps and bruises for Blues in tough second period

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The St. Louis Blues are having a rough time so far in Game 2.

Getting generally out-played by the San Jose Sharks has been bad enough through two periods, with San Jose going up 2-0 (thanks in part to Troy Brouwer getting a ton of the post late in the middle frame).

It’s also been a painful start in a more literal way.

During the first period, Alexander Steen seemed to be in a bad way after this knee-to-knee collision:

In the second, Patrik Berglund caught his hip/torso in the bench in an awkward way.

The best bits of news for the Blues:

A) They have time to come back.

B) Even if they fail to do so, it’s just one game.

C) Both Steen and Berglund seemed to shake off whatever issues they were caused. At least as of this writing.