<span class="vcard">James O'Brien</span>

Arizona Coyotes v Chicago Blackhawks

NHL on NBCSN: Blackhawks open lengthy homestand vs. Coyotes


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyoteas at United Center at 8:30 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

By their own lofty standards, the Chicago Blackhawks have been just OK so far in 2014-15, but Monday begins their big chance to make a run for the Central Division crown.

(As far as it seems away today, with the Nashville Predators ahead by eight points.)

The Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes to begin an eight-game homestand that serves as a great opportunity to make up ground. Here’s that upcoming slate of games:

Monday: vs. Arizona
Wednesday: vs. Vancouver
Friday: vs. New Jersey
Sunday: vs. Pittsburgh
Feb. 18: vs. Detroit
Feb. 20: vs. Colorado
Feb. 22: vs. Boston
Feb. 24: vs. Florida

With all of those contests at the United Center (not to mention no back-to-back sets unless you count today), the Blackhawks could at least position themselves to rest some players late in the season if they can’t do much about their seeding position.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Monday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

While the Blackhawks have been up and down over the big picture, they’ve won two games in a row. They’re also not that far removed from throttled the Coyotes in Chicago by a score of 6-1 on Jan. 20.

With two straight losses and only five wins in 2015, the Coyotes seem like a vulnerable opponent on paper, although their collective confidence should almost certainly be considerably higher than the last time these two teams met.

If nothing else, Mike Smith has to be feeling better about his play, as he’s at least looked like a respectable starting goalie in February.

The Blackhawks are coming off of a 4-2 win against the St. Louis Blues from Sunday, so Arizona can add the rest advantage. On paper, this seems like a mismatch, but there are a few signs pointing to this contest being closer than many might expect.

Can Chicago build up some momentum with the season starting to wind down? We’ll see on NBCSN tonight.

Boudreau: Andersen says he is fine after injury scare

The Anaheim Ducks are coming off of a loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but they have a reason to feel upbeat this morning, as it appears that Frederik Andersen avoided an injury on Sunday.

There was some concern that he was hurt after a net fell on him yesterday, but head coach Bruce Boudreau said that the young goalie told him he was fine, the OC Register’s Eric Stephens reports.

That’s certainly a relief for the Ducks as they’ve leaned on the 25-year-old goalie more than just about anyone expected after coming into 2014-15 expecting a timeshare between Andersen and John Gibson.

Andersen is tied with Carey Price for second in the NHL for wins with 29 this season as he helps the Ducks continue their strong success in regular season play.

Here’s video of the moment that left the Ducks worried:

Considering how much Ilya Bryzgalov has struggled, Anaheim really dodged a bullet here (assuming there isn’t a setback).

PHT Morning Skate: The Curse of Columbus, plus Niskanen vs. Laughton


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Do you think the Columbus Blue Jackets might be literally cursed considering all of those injuries? This is the column for you. (Columbus Dispatch)

Is it finally time for the Arizona Coyotes to trade Keith Yandle? (SBNation)

The 10 worst signings of this season. (The Hockey News)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Monday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen has some bite to his game, as evidenced in this fight with Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton:

Nifty moment here as St. Louis Blues captain David Backes literally passes Jaden Schwartz’s stick to him in the heat of game action:

Video: Mike Fisher catches Erik Gudbranson below the belt


In the waning moments of regulation in what would eventually be a shootout win for the Nashville Predators on Sunday, Mike Fisher gave Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson an, um, “cup check.”

(Please keep your inevitable Carrie Underwood jokes clean, commenters.)

In case you’re wondering, Fisher hasn’t been suspended by the NHL before and there was no penalty on the play.

Also, in a bit of good fortune for Fisher, that concluded the Panthers – Predators games for this season (barring an unlikely 2015 Stanley Cup Final series). Gudbranson will probably have to wait until 2015-16 to have a word with Fisher for that one.

Video: John Tavares slew-footing Brad Marchand


In mid-January, Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand received a two-game suspension for slew-footing. Will New York Islanders star John Tavares get some league attention for doing the same on Marchand?

Judge for yourself in the video below from Saturday’s eventual 2-1 win for Boston:

A few things to consider:

  • There was no penalty on the play.
  • Tavares hasn’t been suspended before.
  • No word on if this is under review (although it’s also worth noting that two key Player Safety Twitter accounts have been silent since Jan. 28, anyway).

Check out this video explanation for Marchand’s two-game suspension for comparison’s sake: