James O'Brien

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

Wild edge Predators in OT, stretch streak to 11 wins in a row


With Jared Spurgeon‘s overtime goal, the Minnesota Wild edged the Nashville Predators 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday. By doing so, they’ve now won 11 games in a row.

The hot streak goes deeper than that, too. They’re also 13-1-3 in their last 17 games, putting them at 22-8-4 on the season.

Here’s that overtime-winner by Spurgeon:

As usual, Devan Dubnyk was brilliant.

They also continue to gain on the Chicago Blackhawks for the Central Division lead, especially since the Blackhawks lost to the Winnipeg Jets 3-1 tonight. Here’s how the two teams look:

Blackhawks: 22-10-5 with 49 points in 37 games played
Wild: 22-8-4 with 48 points in 34 games

Much like the also-red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets not that long ago, the Wild might not be on top of their division, but their games in hand advantage indicates that they could very well be on the verge of taking first place.

Speaking of the Blue Jackets, New Year’s Eve is looming as a fascinating night, as the two teams face off in Columbus on Saturday. Each squad needs to win one more game and it would be quite the fascinating clash between two streaking squads where something would have to give.

Sabres slip by Red Wings as Detroit celebrates 1996-97 Stanley Cup team


Reunions are almost universally wistful experiences, particularly if the present doesn’t quite match up to the past.

That’s likely the feeling many Detroit Red Wings fans wrestled with on Tuesday, as the 2016-17 version of the team fell 4-3 to the Buffalo Sabres while the team celebrated the Stanley Cup-winning 1996-97 squad.

Detroit dominated the shot counts (43-22), Evander Kane scored two goals including the game-winner and Jack Eichel blew our minds. But a lot of the action took a backseat to pondering the past.

Here’s video of the ceremony:

Again, there were a lot of mixed feelings in the air. Feeds like these capture much of that spirit, although this GIF – without comment – probably says as much as anything else:


Jack Eichel reminds us of his obscene skill (Video)


Not a lot of humans can pull off the slick moves that almost seem to come easily to Jack Eichel.

He’s dazzled us plenty of times before, and it really doesn’t get old to see him make some slick moves. He did so on Tuesday, befuddling Petr Mrazek/the general audience by roofing a puck over the Detroit Red Wings goalie.

Check out that fantastic display in the video above.

As a bonus, this move didn’t result in a goal, but hockey fans should enjoy this outrageous move by Erik Karlsson:


Blown lead? Doesn’t matter, Blue Jackets win 13th in a row


At this rate, the Columbus Blue Jackets might not lose another game in 2016. We’re pretty sure they’ll lose at some point in 2017.

If John Tortorella wants to grasp for straws as far as reasons to yell in the locker room, Tuesday provided a reason. The Blue Jackets went up 3-0, only to see the Boston Bruins tie things up with three unanswered goals … but Columbus won 4-3 anyway. With that, the Blue Jackets unbelievable run stretches to 13 straight wins.


Update: Nope, Torts isn’t lingering on the blown lead, either.


Captain Nick Foligno scored the power-play game-winning goal, Matt Calvert found the net on this impressive effort and Zach Werenski continues to destroy all expectations as a rookie defenseman:

Yeah, that’s pretty impressive. Even the Blue Jackets’ Twitter feed is exuding maximum swagger.

“LOL, good luck with that” might be how some react to the idea of a team stopping this hot streak.

The Blue Jackets face the Jets in Winnipeg and then close out the calendar year against the Wild in Minnesota, possibly setting the stage for a showdown between two of the hottest teams in the NHL.

Great saves: Fleury’s flair, Raanta flashes the pad (Videos)

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We’re days from 2017, but there’s still time for goalies to grab the title for save of the calendar year.

At least two netminders provided some quality entries on Tuesday night.

First, you can see Antti Raanta making a big pad save for the New York Rangers against the Ottawa Senators in the video above this post’s headline. The Rangers ended up winning the game, snapping Ottawa’s winning streak in the process.

There’s also a great paddle/stick stop by Marc-Andre Fleury from tonight’s highlight-friendly game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils:

This might be best seen in GIF form via Stephanie Vail, especially since the overhead view kind of boggles the mind:

The Penguins ultimately beat the Devils 5-2 on Tuesday.