James O'Brien

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

He’s the Guy: Senators name Boucher as new head coach


Bruce Boudreau won’t be coaching the Ottawa Senators, but they’re still landing a guy with plenty of clout and name recognition.

The Senators confirmed that former Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher will be their new head coach.

“Over the past three weeks, Pierre Dorion and our hockey operations staff have undertaken a thorough and comprehensive search for our next head coach. Following a detailed evaluation of all coaching candidates, there was overwhelming consensus that Guy was our top candidate,” Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said. “We wanted a great coach and this process yielded our top pick. I couldn’t be happier. On behalf of the entire Senators organization, the great city of Ottawa and our fans, I want to welcome Guy, his wife Marsha and their three children, Vincent, Mila and Naomi.”

At 44, Boucher is still in the younger range of NHL head coaches, so the Sens bring in a familiar name who doesn’t necessarily feel like as much of a “retread.”

For what it’s worth, it sounds like the term of contract may have been the deciding factor between Boucher vs. Boudreau.

Here’s a quick rundown of his credentials, via the Sens:

Boucher, 44, becomes the 12th head coach in Senators franchise history. Boucher has spent parts of the last three seasons as the head coach of SC Bern of the National League A in Switzerland, posting a 44-29-5 record. Prior to that, he spent two-plus seasons as the head coach of the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning, posting a 97-78-20 record in 195 games. Boucher led the Lightning to the Eastern Conference Final in 2010-11.

Game 5 of Penguins – Capitals drew great ratings for NBC


Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals is a star-studded series, and it showed with Game 5’s ratings in particular.

NBC Sports PR released some numbers regarding last night’s must-win game for the Capitals, with some striking ratings for this latest showdown between Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Nicklas Backstrom and more.

Game 5 set a new bar for a playoff game in the first or second round on NBC:

Here are a few other impressive tidbits:

People are already calling for Fleury to replace Murray


If you needed a reminder about the “What have you done for me lately?” nature of sports, check some of the takes about the Pittsburgh Penguins’ goaltending situation.

By just about any measure, Matt Murray‘s been a revelation in his first playoff experiences. He’s stolen a game or two against the Washington Capitals alone.

Still, the Penguins failed in their first opportunity to close out the Caps in Game 5 with a 3-1 loss. That was enough to prompt some to wonder if the Penguins would be wise to return to “The Flower.”

Granted, there are also plenty of people who mock the idea.

Nature of the beast, perhaps?

It would be surprising if the Penguins went in that direction against the Capitals in Game 6 on Tuesday … though not impossible, apparently.

On the other hand, if the Capitals force a Game 7, all bets are off.

Report: Front-office changes coming to Panthers, including new GM


The Florida Panthers seem to be making some tweaks to their front office, with official word expected to come soon, according to George Richards of the Miami Herald.

Richards reports that the team will have a new GM, but that doesn’t mean that Dale Tallon (pictured) will be fired.

Instead, Tallon will be moved up the chain to a “director of hockey operations”-type title, much like the New York Rangers did with veteran executive Glen Sather last summer.

(Anyone else think of this show when they read “Tom/Eric?”)

Tom Rowe will reportedly take over the GM gig while others will serve as assistants. Tallon is also expected to have a voice in the matters, according to Richards.

It’s plausible that this shuffling was in the making for some time. The Panthers announced extensions for Tallon and Rowe in January. Other pieces are also locked up for the next few years, including head coach (and Jack Adams finalist) Gerard Gallant.

The Panthers took a big step in 2015-16, and it seems clear that they’re keeping their eyes toward the future.

For more details, check out Richards’ feed.

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

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The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with one game on Sunday afternoon. You can catch tonight’s action via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

NY Islanders at Tampa Bay (3:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 5 will be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here. The Lightning lead the series 3-1.

Check out some reading material to warm up for the action:

– Lightning view elimination victories as “the toughest win to get.”

Nikita Kucherov is lighting it up for the Lightning.

Jason Garrison scored the Game 4 overtime-winner.

Bad blood boils over.