James O'Brien

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

That’s mean: Alex Steen on IR, Blues will re-evaluate him in a month

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The St. Louis Blues have been remarkably resilient amid serious injuries this season. They’ll need to keep up that trend after getting some lousy news on Sunday.

Alexander Steen has been placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury, and he’ll be re-evaluated in four weeks.

That means he’ll miss at least that much time, maybe more. The Blues have to at least wonder if he’ll out for the remainder of the regular season.

About the only semi-positive spin is that this happened before the Feb. 29 trade deadline rather than after it, so GM Doug Armstrong can add some help if he feels justified.

Steen probably got hurt here:

The Blues won that game against the Arizona (cos-playing as Phoenix) Coyotes, but it could very well come at a huge cost.

And just to think, the Blues were just getting used to the “luxury” of having a healthy Jaden Schwartz in the lineup …

Flyers aren’t looking for rentals (but should they be?)


The Philadelphia Flyers made a series of injury-related announcements on Sunday, and overall, it’s a mixed bag.

  • Claude Giroux skated with Sean Couturier. It’s “possible” that Giroux might play against the Carolina Hurricanes while Couturier is day-to-day and ahead of schedule.
  • Surgery is scheduled for Michael Del Zotto, who will have ligament repair surgery on his wrist. The team put his recovery window at three-to-four months, so his season is over.
  • Jordan Weal‘s approximately a week-and-half away from being healthy enough to return, it seems.

GM Ron Hextall was pretty vague about the Flyers’ approach toward the Feb. 29 trade deadline, by the way:

As of this writing, the Flyers are five points out of the East’s final wild card spot. Sports Club Stats gives Philly a 26.4 percent chance of making the playoffs.

More precisely, though, Hextall said the team isn’t interested in rentals:

Is that the right way to go, though? Which way would you lean if you were in Hextall’s shoes: more toward buying or selling?

Penguins hold off Sabres, strengthen hold on playoff spot


With Ryan O'Reilly on the shelf, the Pittsburgh Penguins probably hoped to dominate the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

It didn’t happen that way, but grabbing a win was the most important thing, and Pittsburgh did that by holding on for a 4-3 victory.

(And, hey, to be fair … Evgeni Malkin‘s still out of the lineup, too. He was placed on IR on Sunday, by the way.)

Again, not a perfect game for the Penguins.

Still, they got points from the usual suspects (a goal each from Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist, plus an assist by Sidney Crosby) while young forward Scott Wilson pitched in another goal.

Kris Letang was probably the real standout, racking up three assists.

Zach Bogosian really unleashed his hard shot in this one, scoring two goals and adding an assist in Buffalo’s charge to try to push the game to overtime. The Sabres’ power play was a double-edged sword, as they went 2-for-3 but allowed a Matt Cullen shorthanded tally.

The Penguins find themselves more solidly in the playoff mix, moving at least briefly up to the first wild card spot (Detroit could push them to second this evening). Sure, they stumble here and there, but Pittsburgh continues to stride in the right direction.

Goalie nods: Crawford vs. Dubnyk in the elements


We’ve seen Marc-Andre Fleury top Robin Lehner, but what about the rest of the starters during Hockey Day in America?

Well, we know that it will be Corey Crawford for the Chicago Blackhawks and Devan Dubnyk for the Minnesota Wild for the 2016 Stadium Series’ game in Minnesota.

This isn’t Crawford’s first rodeo, as the Blackhawks are quite familiar with these events. He’s enjoyed a strong season as Chicago’s relatively unsung hero in net.

Dubnyk’s seen highs and lows much like many of his Wild teammates, but he’s hoping to keep Minnesota’s winning streak going under new head coach John Torchetti.

It sounds like the sun won’t be an issue, but it’s still a contest with more than 50,000 people in attendance, so we’ll see if this game ends up being tightly played or high-scoring.

Elsewhere …

Red Wings at Rangers: Likely Jimmy Howard vs. Henrik Lundqvist

Lightning at Hurricanes: Ben Bishop vs. Cam Ward

Flames at Ducks: Jonas Hiller vs. (best guess) Frederik Andersen

Avalanche at Canucks: Semyon Varlamov vs. Ryan Miller

Watch Live: Hockey Day in America (including Blackhawks – Wild outdoors)


Fans are in for a treat on Sunday, as NBC and NBCSN combine to bring you Hockey Day in America.

Here’s the enticing slate and their respective streaming links.

First, the Buffalo Sabres host the Pittsburgh Penguins on NBC. Coverage begins at noon ET, and you can stream it below.


The fun continues on NBC with the 2016 Stadium Series game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild. It’s an outdoor game in “The State of Hockey,” and should be a fantastic time all around. Here’s the link for that coverage, with the game happening after Penguins – Sabres.


Finally, the good times switch to NBCSN to close off Hockey Day in America with the New York Rangers hosting the Detroit Red Wings. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET, more or less after the second game of this triple-header.

Here’s the link for that third contest:


Yes, it’s OK to get excited.