James O'Brien

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

Perfect 10: Flyers keep remarkable run going by edging Avalanche


It wasn’t easy, but should it be easy to win 10 games in a row? The Philadelphia Flyers did exactly that after holding on against the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 on Wednesday night.

Fittingly, Steve Mason stayed hot with his rising team, winning his eighth straight game.

The Flyers needed Mason late in the game, too, at least after Brayden Schenn scored their second goal of the third period to make it 4-2. Matt Duchene beat Mason for his second tally of the contest and the Avs generated a 14-4 shots on goal advantage in the final frame, but the resurgent goalie stood tall.

Philly is the hottest team in the NHL, yet to an extent, they’re also being forced to do so to stay in the thick of the Metropolitan Division race.

Penguins after beating the Bruins today: 43 points in 30 games
Rangers: 41 points in 31 GP
Flyers: 41 points in 32 GP
Blue Jackets: 40 points in 27 GP
Capitals: 39 points in 28 GP

When will that stop being ridiculous?

Speaking of unusual things, the game had a little of everything, as Jakub Voracek fought Gabriel Landeskog in another unexpected bout:

Yes, the Flyers were the favorites against the ailing Avs tonight, but this didn’t come without some tension. Perhaps it was even better that way, as it’s clear that there’s a lot of confidence in Philly right now.

Bruins can’t shake off Rust as Penguins win seventh straight


The Pittsburgh Penguins maintained a lot of streaks on Wednesday night, but they did break one: losing regularly to the Boston Bruins.

Boston had won the teams’ previous five meetings, but Bryan Rust‘s overtime-winner gave the Penguins the 4-3 edge.

Here are the patterns that continue:

  • Pittsburgh won its seventh consecutive game.
  • The Metropolitan Division is still ridiculous. The Penguins are about as comfortable as you can be atop that group with 43 points, though.
  • David Pastrnak remains ridiculous in his own right. He scored the goal that sent the contest to overtime and also had an assist. Sidney Crosby didn’t maintain his absurd goal-scoring pace, however, so Pastrnak is gaining on him in that scoring sprint.
  • Justin Schultz remains on fire, this time with a goal and two assists.

Here’s that decisive goal:

It’s not all bad for the Bruins, really. They keep generating points from their matches against the Penguins and fired 44 shots on Matt Murray. Also: David Pastrnak.

The Penguins ended up top this time, however, and that’s becoming a familiar theme.

WATCH LIVE: Flyers at Avalanche – Wednesday Night Rivalry


In a ridiculously red-hot Metropolitan Division, the Philadelphia Flyers have a strong argument that they’re the hottest team of all. There’s no debating that they hold the longest active winning streak.

Philly goes for a whopping 10 straight wins tonight as they face the Colorado Avalanche, a team going in nearly the opposite direction. The worst of the NHL’s worst haven’t been as bad as years past, so fair or not, the Avs probably belong on that list.

Hockey and sports are funny in this way, though: the Flyers can’t take the Avalanche lightly.

Will we see an upset or the Flyers winning their 10th in a row? Tune in to find out.

The game wraps up Wednesday Night Rivalry’s doubleheader on NBCSN once Bruins – Penguins wraps up, while you can watch online or via the NBC Sports App.

The livestream link is right here.

Video: Turris goes after Vlasic, Hoffman cross-checks Couture


From the Department of Unlikely Fights: Kyle Turris went after Marc-Edouard Vlasic on Wednesday night.

Turris was standing up for Erik Karlsson, which sort of makes this a trifecta of unexpected violence (on a night when the Ottawa Senators were celebrating the 1,000th game of Chris Neil, who’s generally expected to be violent).

You can see that entertaining skirmish in the video above … and perhaps disagree strongly about it being called a “fight.” How about an altercation?

If nothing else, it produced this fun GIF:

By no means was this the nastiest moment of the game, as Mike Hoffman delivered a cross-check on Logan Couture that’s likely to get attention from the league:

The Sharks ended up getting the last laugh, beating the Senators 4-3 via a shootout thanks to this nice move by Kevin Labanc.

Watch the overtime fun here.

Sheesh, Kucherov isn’t playing for Lightning tonight, either

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The mood for the Tampa Bay Lightning right now? Still pretty miserable.

PHT’s Mike Halford breaks down the organization-wide malaise, while Wednesday presents more pressing issues: Nikita Kucherov isn’t going to be able to play against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.

We’re already aware that Steven Stamkos is unavailable, and while Ryan Callahan is making progress, he’s also not ready to go. Cory Conacher was recalled and will draw back into the Lightning mix instead.

The Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith noted that Kucherov was skating “gingerly” and not participating in drills on Wednesday morning. The team indicated that this isn’t too serious, but who knows?

The Lightning’s lines look a little shaky heading into tonight’s game:

Yeah, not ideal.