James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Report: Datsyuk may leave for Russia after this season (and Red Wings would be stuck with his cap hit)

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The Detroit Red Wings are in a dogfight to try to keep their epic playoff streak going. If that isn’t enough to agitate Red Wings fans, well …

… *lets out a deep breath*

How do we say this?

During the latest edition of Saturday Headlines, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that Pavel Datsyuk may very well leave the Red Wings for Russia. And that might happen as soon as things wrap up for the Red Wings this season.

Ouch.

Here’s the full segment.

If that doesn’t hurt enough, Friedman points out a fact that adds insult to injury: if this happens, the makeup of the latest CBA means the Red Wings would be stuck with his $7.5 million cap hit for 2016-17.

Before Red Wings fans say anything harsh about magical #13, consider this: Friedman reports that it may make such a move because of family reasons.

It’s important to remember that this hasn’t been confirmed by the Red Wings or Datsyuk. It’s also obvious that things can change, whether that means Datsyuk playing out his contract (which expires after 2016-17) or extending his career with Detroit even beyond that.

Still, it’s a scary possibility coming from one of the most respected reporters in the business, so don’t blame Red Wings fans for getting nervous.

Ultimately, they should do what’s reasonable enough with Datsyuk, anyway: savor these moments.

Update: A few bits from GM Ken Holland.

Video: Enjoy this magical assist by Jack Eichel (Henrik Lundqvist did not)

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Whenever hockey fans get tired of making Eichel Tower puns (not judging), perhaps there should also be Jack Eichel nicknames involving the word “magic.”

Maybe even something especially groan-inducing, such as “Ma-Jack?” (Nah, that’s probably going too far.)

Anyway, the Buffalo Sabres’ tremendous rookie sprinkled some serious pixie dust on this one, as he blazed by some New York Rangers before showing outstanding touch and patience in setting what’s already Ryan O'Reilly‘s second goal on Saturday.

Observe it in all of its glory:

While we’re here, enjoy a random nice goal by Jeff Skinner as a bonus for stopping by.

As exciting as the playoffs will be, it’s too bad it will mean no more Skinner and Eichel.

Update: Lundqvist ended up getting pulled from tonight’s game. Yikes.

Stars take showdown vs. Kings, Ruff gets 700th coaching win

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If Saturday afternoon is any indication, the Dallas Stars look like they’ll go into the playoffs on a high note … and possibly with a division title, as well.

The Stars won their fourth consecutive game in a possible preview of the 2016 Western Conference Final by beating the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. They’ve now taken seven of their last eight contests, and with this victory, Lindy Ruff has 700 wins as an NHL coach.

Los Angeles carried a 2-1 lead into the third period despite Dallas generating 30 shots on goal through the first 40 minutes. The Stars just wouldn’t be denied, however, and overwhelmed the Kings in the final frame.

This victory puts Dallas in an excellent position to take the Central Division title. The Stars have a four-point edge on the Blues for that top spot, with St. Louis holding a game in hand (four remaining to Dallas’ three).

Saturday’s decision also makes it highly likely that the Central Division’s top team will also take the top seed in the West.

Who knows … that might be a pretty big deal if the Stars face the Kings in the playoffs.

You won’t see Stamkos for Lightning tonight due to upper-body injury

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Here’s some news Tampa Bay Lightning fans don’t want to hear with the playoffs rapidly approaching: Steven Stamkos won’t play tonight because of an upper-body injury.

That’s the word from the Lightning by way of a variety of reporters including Bryan Burns of the team site.

Update: Oof, the follow-up is ugly: Stamkos will miss one-to-three months because of a blood clot in his arm. Scary stuff.

As usual, there isn’t much information beyond Stamkos missing Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

There was, however, at least a slight warning that we wouldn’t “see Stamkos.”

Hmm. Hopefully that means that the Lightning are merely erring on the side of caution, here.

With Stamkos out, it’s that much tougher for the Lightning to catch the Florida Panthers for the Atlantic Division title. There is one plus, however: “The Triplets” trio of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov are reunited in Stamkos’ absence.

Perhaps that setback will help them find that outstanding chemistry from last season once more?

Nikita Zadorov suffered a concussion from that Tom Wilson hit

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The Colorado Avalanche are hurting in more ways than one following Friday’s 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals.

However you feel about Tom Wilson‘s hit on Nikita Zadorov, it’s clear that it left Zadorov with an injury.

Patrick Roy confirmed that the young defenseman suffered a concussion from that thunderous check, which was not penalized. The Colorado Avalanche didn’t provide further details regarding how long Zadorov will be out because of that concussion.

The Avs only have four games left in the regular season. While they’re not technically eliminated, last night’s loss made it tough to imagine them playing beyond game 82 … so there’s a chance we might not see Zadorov again this season.

Was it worthy of a suspension or worse? Decide for yourself in the video above.