James O'Brien

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

Craig Anderson shuts out Oilers on emotional night

You know you’ve done something special when you’re getting a standing ovation after a road game.

That’s exactly what happened in Edmonton on Sunday, and Craig Anderson deserved those cheers.

Even if you ignore the personal factors, shutting out the high-octane Edmonton Oilers is quite a feat. And it’s not like the Oilers were pulling any punches in the Ottawa Senators’ 2-0 win.

But, of course, context makes a great performance something special, and more emotional.

Senators GM Pierre Dorion revealed why the goalie had left the team for personal reasons: Nicholle Anderson, Craig’s wife, has been diagnosed with cancer. Even so, with his team hit dealing with goalie injury issues, she gave him her blessing to play on Sunday.

In his first game back with an emotional team in front of him, Anderson generated a 37-save shutout. He’s now on a two-game shutout streak. It’s the sort of accomplishment that’s as awe-inspiring as it is tear-jerking.

His teammates were showing him support heading into the game:

… But with Cam Talbot staying after the game to show his support for Anderson after the game, and Oilers fans cheering his great performance, it seems clear that he’s in the thoughts of the hockey community as a whole.

Grabner grabs hat trick as Rangers dominate Lightning


The New York Rangers made it a point to load up on forwards this summer, and it’s been paying off nicely. Sunday might have been the best display of that strength.

Despite getting Nikita Kucherov and Ryan Callahan back, the Tampa Bay Lightning had no answer for the Rangers’ arsenal as New York won 6-1.

That included Michael Grabner generating the third hat trick of his career and his first trio since Feb. 2011.

Naturally with such a lopsided game, Grabner wasn’t the only Rangers forward who stood out. Linemates J.T. Miller (one goal, two assists) and Kevin Hayes (three assists) got in on the fun, Jimmy Vesey scored yet another goal and Rick Nash enjoyed a one-goal, one-assist night.

It’s a harsh way to emphasize the tough stretch Tampa Bay is enduring.

The Hossas really owned Sunday night


Chicago sports fans biting their nails over the Cubs trailing in the World Series could turn to the Blackhawks – and especially the Hossas – for reasons to smile on Sunday night.

That’s right, Hossas. It wasn’t just Marian Hossa who stood out during the Blackhawks’ eventual 3-0 win against the Los Angeles Kings; his daughter Zoja adorably honking his nose really provided some comic relief.

You can see that fun ceremony honoring Hossa’s 500th goal in the video above. Here’s that moment in GIF form, too:

He’s now at 502 after scoring an empty-netter in tonight’s win, while he also grabbed an assist on yet another Artem Anisimov goal. So, yeah, Marian definitely did more than just accept a golden stick.

Islanders light up Leafs amid more ice complaints


So, what was uglier on Sunday: Jhonas Enroth‘s misplay on a Shane Prince goal, the Maple Leafs’ overall effort in losing 5-1 to the Islanders or the Barclays Center ice?

That’s up to debate, but there’s no denying that the New York Islanders enjoyed a lopsided 5-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Here’s that Prince goal off of the Enroth gaffe:

It’s a heartening effort for what’s been an up-and-down Islanders team, but it was at times overshadowed by grumbling about the ice surface and grumbling about grumbling about the ice surface.

This is far from the first time that people have voiced complaints about the rink in Brooklyn. Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck couldn’t help but describe the surface as “unplayable” about a week ago.

Some go as far as to chastise the Isles organization for the issue, yet the solution might be a little trickier when you pour over the actual logistics of the situation, at least as it pertains to the 2016-17 season.

Well, what can you do? However this season shakes out for the Islanders, the ice could very well be a topic of frequent discussion, whether the team likes it or not.

Brandon Manning wins it for the Flyers


The Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers both boast a bevvy of enviably talented young players, so it only makes sense that a fresh face made the difference.

Granted, Brandon Manning might be “old” by certain standards at 26 but … you get the idea.

His shorthanded goal ended up being the difference as the Flyers topped the Hurricanes 4-3 on Sunday:

The win also is a boost for Michal Neuvirth, who hasn’t gained a victory since being in net for the Flyers’ season-opening win. Philly’s next game is a Wednesday Night Rivalry clash with the Detroit Red Wings on NBCSN.