James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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First goal in first game on first shot for Sharks’ Timo Meier (Video)

It didn’t take long for Timo Meier to show the San Jose Sharks and everyone else why he’s such a prized prospect.

He fell short of a full Mario Lemieux first goal in that it wasn’t during his first shift, but he checked the other boxes on Friday: first goal in his first NHL game on his first shot.

It was the third goal in a 3-0 first period for the Sharks against a Montreal Canadiens team that’s shorthanded.

Carey Price was eventually pulled, a very rare sight lately.

Meier on his goal:

Concussion sidelines Andrew Shaw for at least Habs’ next two games

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The Montreal Canadiens were already a little slim at center, and now they’ll be without Andrew Shaw for at least this weekend.

The Habs ruled him out of tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks and Saturday’s contest vs. the Washington Capitals because of a concussion. The team noted that Shaw’s issues really started to surface on Thursday afternoon.

Judging by their lines heading into Friday’s game, it looks like Montreal is mostly loading up with a strong first line:

Max PaciorettyTomas PlekanecAlexander Radulov
Artturi LehkonenPhillip DanaultDaniel Carr
Paul ByronTorrey MitchellBrendan Gallagher
Sven Andrighetto – Brian Flynn – Michael McCarron

With Gallagher struggling a bit so far in 2016-17, that really does seem like a concentration of the Canadiens’ best available assets.

If nothing else, Montreal probably hopes to get Shaw back in a week. They start a seven-game road trip (and play nine of 10 on the road) starting on Dec. 23. Even with a gap between those stretches thanks to the New Year, that could be a real challenge, even with Shaw in the mix.

Concussions can be a tricky thing to deal with, however, so we’ll need to wait and see.

WATCH LIVE: Los Angeles Kings at Pittsburgh Penguins

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It’s a rare treat to watch some great hockey on NBCSN on a Friday, at least at this time of year.

Even better: you get to see a rare matchup between two strong teams in the Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings, to boot.

The cores of both of these teams produced two Stanley Cups,* yet their styles are quite different. On one hand, you have the fast-and-furious Penguins, led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. On the other, you have the big-and-stingy Kings (who nonetheless boast huge talent in players like Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty).

Overall, it should be an intriguing bout between two teams who are fighting for positioning in their respective divisions. You can watch on NBCSN, online or via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.

* The Penguins won two other ones during Mario Lemieux’s heyday, as you likely know.

Vlasic fined, not suspended, for ‘dangerous use of stick’ on Karlsson

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Mike Hoffman ended up receiving a two-game suspension from that bitter San Jose Sharks – Ottawa Senators game, but Marc-Edouard Vlasic will only lose money for his actions.

The NHL announced that Vlasic will receive the maximum allowable fine of $5K for “dangerous use of the stick” on Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson.

That infraction prompted Sens forward Kyle Turris to go after Vlasic in an unlikely – but understandable – skirmish.

Here’s the altercation where Vlasic used his stick dangerously, as the league would say:

Now watch what Karlsson had to say about it:

Senators fans probably aren’t happy that Hoffman was suspended for two games for cross-checking Logan Couture while Vlasic only received a fine, but fair or not, that’s what happened.

Cody Eakin suspended four games for ‘intentional’ hit on Henrik Lundqvist

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The NHL rendered its verdict on that controversial hit from Thursday: Dallas Stars forward Cody Eakin will sit four games for his “intentional, forceful” check on New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Sitting out four games without pay will cost Eakin $85,555.56.

As you can see from the explanation video below, the league believed that he didn’t make a reasonable effort to avoid contact with Lundqvist, instead “loading up” and “bracing for” the collision. They consider this charging.

On the other hand, Lundqvist returning to the game and Eakin’s lack of a suspension history helped to limit the punishment: