James O'Brien

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

Carlson takes it for Caps, Holtby eyes Brodeur’s single-season wins record


The Washington Capitals only have so much drama to offer with virtually everything clinched, yet they generated two legit stories in their 1-0 overtime win against the New Jersey Devils.

Most impressively, Braden Holtby earned his third shutout and 45th win of the 2015-16 season. With that, Holtby is really creeping on Martin Brodeur’s single-season record for goalie wins at 48.

The Capitals have nine games remaining this season, so there’s at least a possible best-of-both worlds scenario for Washington: he can chase the record and still maybe get a little breather toward the playoffs.

The other cool story: in his first game back from that lingering lower-body injury, John Carlson scored the game’s only goal in overtime.

And he did so emphatically:

Other fun stuff

Actually, there are some “sub-stories” of note.

For one thing, Scott Wedgewood’s shutout streak ended, even if he continued what’s been a remarkable introduction to the NHL.

Also, the Capitals have one another thing to shoot for, beyond Holtby’s possible record:

The Devils, meanwhile, saw their long odds at a playoff run get that much longer on Friday night.

Fight video: Alex Burrows vs. Kevin Shattenkirk (!)


You don’t see St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk get in a fight very often.

Then again, he might not have had much of a choice against Vancouver Canucks pesky-power-forward Alex Burrows, as you can see from the video above.

Shattenkirk was originally going to receive a slashing penalty, but instead got a fighting major tacked on as well. According to Hockey Fights’ listings, this is Shattenkirk’s first fight since he dropped the mitts with Justin Williams back in 2014.

If you’d rather watch Shattenkirk vs. Burrows via Tweet, the Blues obliged:

Yikes, Anton Stralman might be injured after awkward landing


Update: Really bad news … Anton Stralman is out indefinitely. More here.


At this time of year, you can lose big even if you come out on top on the scoreboard.

Injuries always hurt, but they sting exponentially heading into the playoffs, so the Tampa Bay Lightning have to hope that a scary moment for Anton Stralman ultimately ends up being not as bad as it looked.

Video isn’t available of his awkward fall from Friday’s game against the New York Islanders. Still, this GIF captures the moment in it’s cringe-inducing horror:

Yikes. While Stralman looked shaken up by many accounts, there’s no official word on his condition yet.

So stay tuned. In the case of Lightning fans, try not to bite your nails down too deep.

Stralman was unable to return to the game:

NCAA referee Oliver ‘Butch’ Mousseau passes away at 48 after fall

via Kevin Kelly/Mousseaux's GoFundMe page

Awful news today from the IIHF and USA Hockey: NCAA referee Oliver ‘Butch’ Mousseau died at age 48 because of an injury he sustained from a fall during warm-ups of a WCHA playoff game last week.

The IIHF shared the sad details of that accident:

The on-ice official from Colorado reportedly caught an edge and hit his head on the ice during warm-ups without a helmet on and was in medically-induced coma since. The incident happened in Grand Rapids before the semi-final game of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association between Michigan Tech and Ferris State. He had been in hospital since and suffered a brain hemorrhage on Friday. 

One of the most heartfelt messages for the official came from Kevin Kelly by way of his Go Fund Me Page. Here is an excerpt:

RIP Butchy, can’t believe that you’re gone.

It is often said amongst those of us in the officiating community that the only team that never loses is the Referees. Well, this morning our team lost. Oliver ‘Butch’ Mousseaux passed away this morning after sustaining a pre-game head injury in Grand Rapids, Michigan.Butch was a rarity. He was not only loved by his fellow officials, but also by the coaches and players in the games he worked. What made Butch so special were his communication skills with the coaches and players.

The WCHA released the following statement regarding Mousseaux:

Read more about the official at Puck Daddy, the Denver Post and his Go Fund Me page.

John Carlson returns for Caps on Friday


With the East’s top seed already clinched,* the Washington Capitals don’t have a ton to play for.

Instead, it’s all about “tuning up,” so in Friday’s case, that means taking on a hot New Jersey Devils team while integrating John Carlson back into the lineup.

The underrated defenseman has been sidelined since late February with a “lingering” lower-body injury. Before you ask, the Capitals already said that they don’t want to rush him back into the lineup.

You don’t want him to be too rusty, either, so that’s sort of the chance you take.

Caps fans are excited to get him back, no doubt:

* – And let’s be honest, the Presidents’ Trophy pretty close to guaranteed …