James O'Brien

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

More Montoya? Price unavailable for Habs vs. Sens


Al Montoya was sharp in the Montreal Canadiens’ season-opener on Thursday night, which is great, because they’ll probably need him again on Saturday.

The team announced that Carey Price won’t travel with the team as they face the Ottawa Senators in their next game.

Now, it’s possible that Montreal will go with one of its another options in net, but maybe Montoya earned another start?

He carried much of the under-the-radar momentum he earned during a strong backup season with Florida in 2015-16 by stopping 30 out of 31 shots in Montreal’s 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres.

We’ll have to see about a few other Habs, too, as one must wonder about the health of Torrey Mitchell:

… And perhaps Andrew Shaw might get a talking to?

The Ottawa Senators looked flawed-but-dangerous in their own season-opener (they played and won against that obscure Auston Matthews fellow), so Saturday’s match could be intriguing.

Stars honor slain Dallas police officers on opening night


DALLAS (AP) The Stars honored five officers slain in downtown Dallas this summer by wearing decals of their badges on their helmets during the season opener Thursday night.

Family members of two of the slain officers, Dallas police Sgt. Michael Smith and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer Brent Thompson, participated in the pregame ceremonial puck drop. The captains for both teams, Jamie Benn of the Stars and Ryan Getzlaf of the visiting Anaheim Ducks, joined them at center ice.

When introduced, the families got a long and loud ovation in the arena only a few blocks from where the five officers were killed by a sniper on July 7.

The other officers killed were Dallas police Sr. Cpl. Lorne Ahrens and Dallas police officers Michael Krol and Patrick Zamarripa.

Yakupov made the difference for Blues vs. Wild


The St. Louis Blues acquired Nail Yakupov in hopes that he’d be that extra game-breaker they’ve needed. He sure looked the part on Thursday night.

Yakupov scored his first goal as a member of the Blues on a rocket of a shot (see the video above) and then assisted on Magnus Paajarvi‘s eventual game-winning goal.

He managed that goal and assist (not to mention three shots on goal) despite receiving just eight and a half minutes of ice time against the Wild.

That usage indicates that he still needs to gain Ken Hitchcock’s trust, but he might just force the veteran coach’s hand if he can enjoy more nights like these.

The Blues have to be happy with their performances beyond this promising work from Yakupov, by the way. Despite beating the Chicago Blackhawks the night before, the Blues managed a 31-21 shots on goal advantage against a more rested Wild team.

Lightning win another heated affair with Red Wings


When it comes to budding NHL rivalries, don’t sleep on the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning.

On a night where the Capitals and Penguins are really slugging it out, the Bolts and Red Wings reminded hockey fans of their mutual disdain, as well. Ultimately, the Lightning came out on top 6-4 thanks in large part to a red-hot power play, but it was an adventure all around.

The anger spilled over during moments like these:

That wasn’t the only moment of nastiness by any stretch:

The Lightning must be pleased to win a game in which they had some sloppy moments. Thomas Vanek took advantage of a mishap on his way to two early goals, and the Red Wings once had a 3-1 lead.

Ben Bishop also allowed arguably the oddest goal so far in this young 2016-17 season:

The Lightning scored six of the games last eight goals, with two power-play markers coming in the third period. Jonathan Drouin had himself quite a night, assisting on Alex Killorn‘s game-winner, scoring on the PP and looking like the dangerous threat he was in the playoffs.

The Red Wings made it tough for them – once again – but ultimately the Lightning secured a season-opening win.

Marchand, Backes carry Bruins to comeback win


Heading into Game 1, a lot of people were wondering about the contract numbers for Brad Marchand and David Backes. For at least one night, they made people focus on their numbers on the ice.

The makeshift trio of Backes, Marchand and David Pastrnak powered the Boston Bruins’ 6-3 comeback victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.

It’s almost hard to believe that Columbus held a 3-1 lead during the contest.

Just look at the numbers that trio put up:

Marchand: two goals, three assists
Pastrnak: two goals, two assists
Backes: two goals, one assist

Yes, Pastrnak inflated things a touch with an empty-netter, but it was a dominant performance.

Fresh off a beefy contract extension and an impressive showing in the World Cup of Hockey, Marchand was especially dominant on opening night.

Stephanie “My Regular Face” shared a GIF with the overhead view of maybe his best moment:


The Bruins have a long way to go before they silence some critics and return to the playoffs, but they got off to the right foot tonight, and they did it thanks to two of their most expensive pieces.