James O'Brien

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

Canadiens are facing some turbulence (and mostly passing the test)

The Montreal Canadiens aren’t in crisis mode, but as far as this so-far outstanding 2016-17 season goes, they are finally facing some adversity.

Alex Galchenyuk, one of their most promising young players, is out indefinitely. There are murmurs that captain Max Pacioretty isn’t getting along with head coach Michel Therrien.* Tuesday presented a body blow or two to boot.

For one thing, the Canadiens gave up a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to the St. Louis Blues in overtime. Jaden Schwartz grabbed an assist and scored the game’s last two goals, including the OT-winner:

Losing to a contender like the Blues, especially while still grabbing a “charity point,” isn’t that big of a deal. A possible David Desharnais injury makes things a little dicey, however:

Really, though, it’s not all that bad for Montreal. They managed a 2-2-1 mark during a five-game road trip heavy on quality opponents.

Also: six of their next seven games come at home, where they’re 12-1-1. So things will look brighter soon enough.

Still, with some injuries and a big road trip to end 2016 and start 2017, there may be some moments where Montreal looks vulnerable.

Ultimately, fighting through stretches like these could very well benefit the Habs later on.

* – Ah, the old standby: “Player X isn’t seeing eye-to-eye with Therrien.”

From the Blues’ side:

Ristolainen, Kane, O’Reilly push Sabres past McDavid and the Oilers

Getty
1 Comment

On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.

In particular, high-scoring defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, power forward Evander Kane and two-way center Ryan O'Reilly made the difference in Buffalo’s 4-3 overtime win.

Ristolainen’s first goal of 2016-17 was a big one, as it clinched the contest in OT:

Evander Kane scored two goals of his own, including one in the dying seconds of regulation to allow Buffalo to get a standings point (and then a second) in the first place.

Kane finished with two goals, O’Reilly generated two assists and Ristolainen managed a one-goal, two-assist performance.

It would be wrong to say that the marquee names didn’t show up at all. McDavid generated two assists and Eichel also nabbed a helper.

You’d be correct in saying that other young players stole the show, though, and the Sabres were the biggest beneficiaries.

Video: Brent Seabrook shaken up after awkward fall

1 Comment

It wasn’t nearly as scary as the falls suffered by Travis Zajac or Philip Larsen, but the Chicago Blackhawks are still holding their breath when it comes to defenseman Brent Seabrook.

As you can see from the video above, Seabrook was tripped up by Jordan Martinook of the Arizona Coyotes during a simple puck battle. Seabrook was shaken up after falling awkwardly on that play.

At the moment, it’s unclear if this will be an ongoing issue or if the Blackhawks avoided a costly injury.

Martinook was not penalized.

CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers notes that Seabrook wasn’t out to begin the third period. So far, not so good.

The Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0, so the silver lining for Chicago is that they won.

Steve Mason and the Flyers are still on fire

Getty
8 Comments

As bumpy as the ride has been for the Florida Panthers lately, everything seems to be coming up Philadelphia Flyers.

Despite suffering a 44-25 shots on goal disadvantage, the Flyers managed to beat the Panthers 3-2 in overtime as Jakub Voracek scored with just seconds remaining in OT. With that, the Flyers have now rattled off a six-game winning streak.

The ingredients feel awfully familiar:

Mason is now on a five-game winning streak of his own. He’s allowed two goals or fewer in each of these contests. For the second time during this stretch, Mason needed to make more than 40 saves to secure the victory.

  • Voracek is helping to author some magic beyond regulation.

Earlier in the streak, he set up Claude Giroux‘s emphatic overtime game-winner. This time around, Voracek was the one doing the sniping:

  • Pardon the cliche, but the Flyers are “finding ways to win.” In Tuesday’s case, Wayne Simmonds‘ two goals absolutely factored into the victory, and the Flyers have flexed their muscles on plenty of occasions during this nice run.

Two of these five wins came in overtime, with one other coming via a shootout. The most they’ve won by was two goals, which they managed twice. They were out-shot in three of the five wins.

***

Earlier this season, the Flyers seemed to win despite their goaltending. Chalk it up to a wake-up call from Michal Neuvirth getting hurt or any number of other factors, but all of a sudden, Mason is looking like the guy who was quietly carving out quite a place for himself in Philly.

It could make for a very tough team to beat.

Related: Mason was just named the NHL’s first star of the week. Also, click here for more background on this Flyers run.

Injuries starting to pile up for Rangers with Nash, Puempel now hurt

Getty
3 Comments

When people wonder what might derail the New York Rangers after a surprisingly strong start to the season, many believe that the team will just see a drop in “puck luck.”

Maybe injuries will be the issue, instead?

That thought has to be in the heads of a few Rangers fans on Tuesday, as the injuries continue to pile up for their forward group in particular.

In the same game, Rick Nash (lower-body injury) and Matt Puempel (took a high-stick, so upper-body injury, though the Rangers didn’t specify) both left with issues and will not return against the New York Islanders.

The Rangers were already without the likes of Mika Zibanejad and Michael Grabner, so this is a tough stretch of time for the Blueshirts.

This team is lauded for its forward depth, so we’ll see if they can continue to roll with all of these punches.

Update: The Islanders ended up beating the Rangers 4-2, so a bad day overall for Alain Vigneault & Co. The Isles, meanwhile, are winners of four of their last five games.