James O'Brien

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

Video: Blues pay heartfelt tribute to David Backes


The St. Louis Blues made it clear that David Backes meant a lot to their organization. Their tribute said it all as they welcomed Backes and the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.

Judge for yourself, but it also looked like Backes managed to keep it together and fight the urge to cry, as was his stated goal.

Here’s the tribute via the Blues:

Blues fans followed suit with a rousing ovation of their own, to little surprise.

Pierre McGuire caught up with Backes for his thoughts on his return right before the game:

WATCH LIVE: Boston Bruins at St. Louis Blues


It probably won’t feel like “business as usual” for David Backes on Tuesday night, as he suits up to face the Blues in St. Louis for the first time in his career as a member of the Boston Bruins.

You’ll be able to soak in that emotional atmosphere on NBCSN tonight, and as a bonus, both teams have plenty to play for as they jockey for positioning in their respective conferences and divisions.

Generally speaking, these two teams can bring the black-and-blue, although both coaches have shown that they’re also willing to adapt to the more transition-minded times. It should be an interesting matchup tonight.

You can watch on NBCSN, online and also via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.

Report: Teams are balking at Avs’ asking price for Landeskog


If the Colorado Avalanche expect to move captain Gabriel Landeskog, they might have a better chance of doing so during the off-season. That’s one takeaway from an interesting edition of TSN’s Insider Trading on Tuesday.

TSN’s Darren Dreger spells out the asking price for a trade in a more specific way: the Avalanche want a “top-level defenseman, a first-round pick, plus” for Landeskog.

To little surprise, teams are balking at that price, according to a panel including Dreger, Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun.

It really does bring up the interesting question of how much, exactly, is the stout Swede worth?

He’s still just 24, and his current $5.571 million cap hit runs through the 2020-21 season. If a team likes what they see in Landeskog, they’d be getting that player for quite a while.

Such a team would need to heavily weight intangibles, such as his grit, as his counting numbers aren’t going to blow most people away.

He has just 13 points in 29 games this season, with a -10 rating. He’s generally come in the 20-goal, 50-ish point range, aside from his peak season of 65 points in 2013-14. His possession numbers are solid but unspectacular.

Again, very little of that really makes a team want to pay a high price for a guy who’s stock isn’t exactly soaring. Landeskog has been the captain of a team that hasn’t exactly been lighting the hockey world on fire, either.

So, ultimately, we wait. Will the Avalanche lower the price? Will such a price tag seem more appealing in the off-season?

It’s a situation to watch, and for some Avs fans, any distraction from the on-ice product might be welcome.

Stars end losing streak in typically sloppy fashion; Kopitar breaks a record


Win or lose, it’s rarely been easy for the Dallas Stars this season. It’s only fitting that they stumbled quite a bit before ending their latest losing streak.

The Stars carried a 3-1 lead into the third period, and it didn’t take long for things to get rocky in the final frame.

Dustin Brown made it 3-2 a little more than two minutes into the third period, sparking a 3-1 run by the Kings through about three minutes of action. Just like that, it was 4-4.

Jiri Hudler then chose a great time to score his first goal with the Stars, as it was the eventual game-winner for the Stars. Patrick Sharp ultimately added one more goal to lock up a 6-4 win for the Stars.

Again, it wasn’t pretty. You know it’s a flawed win – and a zany game – when both goalies make an appearance (and injuries weren’t involved).

And the Stars certainly have some work to do.

Kopitar continues night of milestones

In other news, Anze Kopitar scored his 247th goal – all with the Kings – to pass Wayne Gretzky on the team’s all-time goals list:

Tonight’s other milestones

Roberto Luongo goes alone for fifth all-time in goalie wins.

Alex Ovechkin ties Maurice Richard for goals, hit 999 points.

Video: Evgeny Kuznestov reassures us he’s OK with brilliant goal

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There’s been some hand-wringing about Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s production this season compared to the last.

For all the very reasonable assertions that Kuznetsov is just fine – see Andrew Berkshire’s piece at Sportsnet – sometimes people need a more visual example that the Washington Capitals star is A-OK.

The Russian forward provided a strong example during the Capitals’ 4-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday. Watch as he dazzles on his way to his fifth of 2016-17 in the video above. Just wow.

For more on that game, note Alex Ovechkin‘s historic night.