James O'Brien

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

Video: Jonathan Quick loses his cool after Sharks goal


Bold proclamation: the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings aren’t especially fond of each other.

Wednesday provided the latest example, as Jonathan Quick DID NOT react kindly to the Sharks’ actions in reacting to what would eventually be deemed a Logan Couture goal anyway.

Both Quick and Joe Pavelski earned roughing penalties during that exchange, but no one else was dinged for the scrum.

The first period of Kings – Sharks ended tied 1-1. The opening goal was a little funky in its own right:

Matthews takes blame for Sens’ winning goal, of course


Auston Matthews put on a debut for the record books on Wednesday, but technically it wasn’t a perfect night for the rookie.


It’s not just that the Toronto Maple Leafs fell despite Matthews’ four goals, losing to the Ottawa Senators 5-4 in overtime. It’s that Matthews maybe could have made a better play to prevent Kyle Turris‘ clinching goal:

Ultimately, even that moment made Matthews that much more likable to fans of the Leafs and sport in general. That’s because Matthews took responsibility for that goal, because of course he did:

Yeah, that’s the sort of behavior that will really make for a crowded bandwagon.

For what it’s worth, hard-driving head coach Mike Babcock is smart enough to see the big picture, calling it his most enjoyable night as Maple Leafs bench boss. And it doesn’t sound close.

Now, maybe Babs will get a scowl or two going during film sessions, but … still.

More on Matthews’ incredible night – the good parts – can be found here.

Special teams boost Blues by Blackhawks


Along with Brian Elliott‘s brilliant play, the St. Louis Blues took advantage of a hot stretch of power play pay to push by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2016 postseason.*

Elliott is with Calgary now, but at least some of those themes carried over as the Blues beat the Blackhawks 5-2 to open the 2016-17 season.

On one hand, that lead is a little, well, misleading.

The Blackhawks were within a goal late in the game, hoping to tie things up by emptying their own net.

Instead, Vladimir Tarasenko made it 4-2 on an empty-netter and then an odd Duncan Keith own-empty-net-goal made it 5-2, exaggerating the gap.

On the other hand, the Blues did outplay the Blackhawks at times.


(via Natural Stat Trick)

Concerns about the Blackhawks’ offense may seem like a novelty of sorts, but through one game, they felt justified. The Blues smothered Chicago at times on Wednesday, and it showed most clearly in the shot counts.

Yeah, that’s not ideal.

To be fair, the Blackhawks did turn the heat up on Jake Allen more in the third period after St. Louis took an early lead.

Again, special teams was crucial. One of two Blackhawks goals came on the man advantage while the Blues’ three tallies against an actual goalie came on the power play. St. Louis exploited a lengthy 5-on-3 situation in the end of the second period and beginning of the third, managing the tying and then decisive goals on the PP.

That ended up being all they needed to get a win against their hated Central Division rivals.

It’s dangerous to read too much into Game 1 of an 82-game marathon, but the Blackhawks might want to look at a few things during film sessions.

* – At least in the middle of the series, when the Blues managed five PPG during a three-game span.

WATCH LIVE: Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks


Hockey fans have already been treated to Auston Matthews‘ brilliance and Blackhawks vs. Blues, but there’s still more fun to be had on opening night.

NBCSN’s first doubleheader of 2016-17 continues with the Los Angeles Kings at the San Jose Sharks. Should be a totally pleasant and courteous affair between two teams that love each other, right?

Watch online or on the NBC Sports App tonight.

The stream link for that game can be found here.

It doesn’t seem like there will be too much of a concern between the end of Blues – Blackhawks and the beginning of this game clashing, by the way.

Auston Matthews becomes first NHL player to score four goals in debut


Consider this post a running list of the history that Auston Matthews is making on opening night.

The big headline is this: Matthews scored his fourth goal in the closing seconds of the second period, giving the Toronto Maple Leafs a 4-3 lead against the Ottawa Senators.

In doing so, Matthews became the first player in NHL history to score four goals in his first game. It wasn’t enough for the Maple Leafs to win (Ottawa won 5-4 in OT), but still … impressive.

All four goals can be viewed in the video above.

His mom was pleased:

Maple Leafs management tried to contain their giddy excitement:

Matthews admits he hasn’t had a four-goal night in quite some time.

OK, let’s circle back and look at how Matthews’ night shakes out … while acknowledging that he can add even more to his totals in the third period.