James O'Brien

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

Video: McDonagh dazzles in Goals of the Week


EA Sports “NHL 16” is a pretty big leap in realism from the pixelated glory of the 16-bit generation, yet there are still moments when people probably claim that a goal was “so fake.”

Perhaps they should instead say, “That would only be a goal of the week.”

New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh‘s fantastic wraparound goal leads the charge in the latest edition of Goals of the Week. Watch them all in the video above.

Another hat trick, another blowout as Ducks demoralize Devils


So, what’s the theme of Monday night?

If you had to choose one, would it be blowouts or hat tricks?

The Anaheim Ducks provided an example of both in pummeling the road-weary New Jersey Devils by a score of 7-1. Jakob Silverberg was the guy who nabbed that hat trick, the first of his young career.

Most importantly for the Ducks, they remain in the thick of things for the Pacific Division title. The Los Angeles Kings remain two points ahead of them after humbling the Chicago Blackhawks, yet Anaheim could have ended the evening down three or four points if they didn’t maintain focus against the Devils.

Also, remember when Bruce Boudreau’s hot seat was boiling? He managed to make a little history with this win, another reminder that the Ducks may have made the right choice, as difficult as it must have been early this season:

For some, this season will still be a huge failure if the Ducks fail to make a deep playoff run. Grabbing points in games like these may help them get there.

Hat tricks

James Neal helps Predators beat Oilers


Kings bombard Blackhawks

Blowouts with hat tricks

Michael Frolik gets three goals in a kitchen sink-game between the Flames and Blues

Predators slip by Oilers thanks to James Neal’s hat trick


When you win as often as the Nashville Predators have lately, you’re usually enjoying big nights from more than one player.

In Monday’s instance, James Neal was that go-to guy, scoring all three of the Predators’ goals in a 3-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers.

This marks the sixth hat trick of Neal’s career, but the first of 2015-16.

There isn’t an easy clip with all three goals in one spot, yet the last two are similar enough that it almost (almost) feels appropriate to merely insert two.

Instead, enjoy them in succession.

First, there’s his nice breakaway tally:

Prototypical sniper goal, Part. 1:

His second prototypical sniper goal was the difference-maker, and gave him that hat trick.

With the Central Division race still a few strides away, it’s possible that the Predators are merely beefing up their lead for the first wild card spot.

Even if that’s the case, going into the playoffs on a high note is rarely a bad thing, although it won’t help them sneak under the radar against the West’s second seed.

(Just about) Everything happened in Flames’ blowout of Blues


The Calgary Flames probably don’t want to contend for the title of “most dangerous spoiler,” but with the playoffs out of sight, that might just be their role for the next month.

However you want to spin it, Monday’s game between the St. Louis Blues was positively wild, right down to the final score: 7-4 in favor of the Flames.

To give you an idea of what happened (notice the word “all” wasn’t used?*), let’s bask at the bullet points of this one:

  • The first period ended with a 2-2 tie. It seemed like Paul Stastny was right in saying that there were fluke goals, but as it turns out, that opening frame really just set the stage for a zany contest.
  • Michael Frolik earned his second-career hat trick in a pretty strange way. Two of his goals came via shorthanded breakaways while his third was an empty-netter.

  • Jake Allen saw his hot streak end as he was pulled during this game.
  • Some dude apparently won a car, but only after a goal stood following a review:

  • The Blues flirted with actually rallying to win, making it a 5-4 game … for a little while. Ultimately, their six-game winning streak is over in staggering fashion.
  • Naturally, there was some controversy, too.

Aside from that lucky car-winning fella, the biggest winners might be the idle Dallas Stars, who watched the Blues and Chicago Blackhawks lose embarrassingly in regulation on Monday.

* – It would be easy to miss something weird in this game, after all.

Kings blast Blackhawks, fatten Pacific lead


The thought was that, even with the Chicago Blackhawks struggling lately, they’d still provide the Los Angeles Kings with quite the battle tonight.

That … didn’t come to pass.

Instead, the Kings kept adding to an early 2-0 lead, ultimately beating the Blackhawks by a convincing score of 5-0.

With that, Los Angeles maintains its spot atop the Pacific Division – possibly providing some padding, depending upon how the Anaheim Ducks fare tonight – while the Blackhawks continue to slip.

Jonathan Quick stopped all 32 Blackhawks shots for his fourth shutout of the season and his 41st career goose egg. Corey Crawford, meanwhile, had a tough night.

Quick made some history with that 41st shutout, by the way:

After the Milan LucicAnze KopitarKris Versteeg line started off the scoring, other Kings joined in for a good time at their rivals’ expense.

The Kings’ twitter feed seemed pleased:

These stumbles are a concern for the Blackhawks, but perhaps this is just another March swoon before a deep run: