James O'Brien

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

No Filppula for Lightning tonight

Both the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning will be down at least a couple notable forwards in their Florida fight tonight.

The Lightning just announced that Valtteri Filppula won’t play on Monday, as he’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury. With that, Filppula joins Jonathan Drouin on the sidelines.

Even with Jaromir Jagr back in commission, the Panthers aren’t at full-strength, either. They’ll face the Bolts without Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad.

Despite these issues, this game should serve as an interesting barometer for both teams.

Ty Rattie’s bumpy Blues path continues with conditioning stint


At 23, Ty Rattie has time to work things out, but so far, he hasn’t been able to convert big junior numbers to success with the St. Louis Blues.

Monday represented the latest bump in his developmental road, as the Blues sent him to the AHL for a conditioning stint. It’s sensible enough with Rattie only appearing in one game so far in 2016-17, yet it’s still not the greatest sign for the 32nd pick of the 2011 NHL Draft.

He’s been quiet in his 27 NHL games and respectable during his AHL appearances, but it’s his work in the WHL that still makes some hopeful for an eventual breakthrough. He scored 121 points in 2011-12 and 110 in 2012-13 with the Portland Winterhawks.

Along with sending Rattie to the AHL, the Blues also made a defensive shift, placing Joel Edmundson on injured reserve while calling up Petteri Lindbohm.

The team announced that Edmundson would be re-evaluated in three weeks, so they could be without a depth defenseman who was averaging about 15 minutes per night for some time.

Video: Saturday was an angry night for goalies


Many hockey fans find it tougher to enjoy a fight these days once you consider the post-career struggles of enforcers.

It’s a little harder not to grin at a video of a goalie losing though, isn’t it? Something about seeing all that rage mixed with the clumsiness of fighting with all that bulky equipment just makes for entertainment. It’s not short of those weird fake sumo fights.

Saturday presented two eyebrow-raising bits of netminder anger, though these instances mainly involved a goalie going after a skater. Most obviously, Ryan Miller and Frederik Andersen were involved in this fracas, especially Miller:

More on that ugly loss for the Canucks and how they hope to turn it around, maybe in part due to all of that violence.

That wasn’t the only outburst involving a goalie, however, as Devan Dubnyk got into it with Gabriel Landeskog:

Landeskog seemed pretty chill about the situation, although he does seem a little jealous that Dubnyk got to fight with a goalie mask and blocker to his advantage.


So, entertaining stuff, right?

The tougher question regarding Saturday is what makes you smile wider: goalie fights or players singing Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen?

Yes, in 2016: Setoguchi scores for Kings, Budaj shuts out Flames

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This summer, you could forgive Peter Budaj and Devin Setoguchi for worrying that they’d never accomplish anything of significance in the NHL again.

On Saturday, they factored into the Los Angeles Kings’ 5-0 drubbing of the Calgary Flames.

Budaj is now 6-3-0 and nabbed the 12th shutout of his NHL career (plus his first since 2013).

Setoguchi’s battle with addiction probably makes his ascent even more heartwarming. He scored two goals on Saturday, finding the net at this level for the first time since 2014.

Hey, even Dustin Brown seemed like he came out of a time machine with two assists tonight.

All and all, it’s some pretty inspiring stuff … unless you play or cheer for the Flames.

Sidney Crosby is still on fire; Penguins blank Sharks


Plenty of Pittsburgh Penguins deserve credit as the team is really heating up, but the hottest streak belongs to the most obvious catalyst: Sidney Crosby.

As of this writing, the Penguins lead the San Jose Sharks 5-0 in what was a lopsided rematch of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Crosby – the guy who you may remember as the 2016 Conn Smythe winner – now has eight goals in six games after firing in two on Saturday. He now has three multi-goal games in his last four contests (six goals, one assist).

Ridiculous, right?

Here’s his first of the night:

And his second, a one-handed sensation:

So, yeah, he might still be the best player in the world, and the Penguins are impressive with him back in the mix.