James O'Brien

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

Blackhawks blow out Coyotes, Vermette injures Anisimov


The Chicago Blackhawks absolutely dominated the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday in a 6-2 win, but there was a significant injury loss.

The good news is that the early word is that Artem Anisimov is only considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury. At least for now.

Former Blackhawks forward Antoine Vermette received a game misconduct for that check on Anisimov. For whatever it’s worth, Vermette apologized about the hit.

Jonathan Toews was mostly diplomatic:

The hit:

Predators do Wild’s dirty work: Minnesota clinches, Colorado’s out


Maybe Ryan Suter should send a “Thank you” note to his former teammates in Nashville.

The Minnesota Wild fell 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, but in a broader sense, it didn’t really matter. The Colorado Avalanche lost as well via a 4-3 defeat to the Predators, so the Wild are officially in the playoffs and the Avs are officially done.

This marks Minnesota’s fourth consecutive playoff berth while Colorado has been unable to make the postseason for two straight years.

(Perhaps Patrick Roy will either be on the hot seat or closer to it?)

Filip Forsberg‘s dazzling goal wasn’t the decisive tally, yet for some Avs fans, it may cause some torment:

Now that all eight Western Conference playoff teams are confirmed, we must now see how seeding pans out.

Stepan, Lundqvist push Rangers past scrappy, hurting Lightning


Injuries were a dominant consideration heading into tonight’s game between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning, and despite some serious efforts, they loomed heavy in the ultimate narrative.

The Bolts managed a scrappy 2-0 lead despite all of their issues, yet maybe you can attribute some of the lost ground to fatigue as the Rangers fought their way to a 3-2 win.

Henrik Lundqvist deserves a ton of credit for keeping the Rangers in the game when the Lightning kept pouring it on, stopping 39 out of 41 shots.

Derek Stepan was a hero, too, scoring two straight goals to tie things up before setting up Chris Kreider‘s game-winning goal.

Injuries were a consideration for the Rangers, too, with bad news about Ryan McDonagh surfacing before this game. They lost another prominent defenseman during the game on Tuesday, as Dan Girardi suffered a scary fall from a hit by former Ranger Brian Boyle.

The good news for the Rangers and Lightning: they’re both in the playoffs. The bad news is that they’re showing some battle scars from these battles of attrition.

Panthers clinch Atlantic Division; John Scott says goodbye to the Habs


This is feeling like a pretty special season for the Florida Panthers, and it shows in the standings.

Most importantly, Tuesday ended with the Panthers officially taking the Atlantic Division title thanks to their 4-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s tough loss to the New York Rangers.

The Cats are looking frisky heading into the playoffs, too, with four straight wins and victories in six of seven games. They generated some serious milestones in the process:

That 2011-12 season was pretty funky, so it’s probably reasonable to argue that this is the Panthers’ best season since John Vanbiesbrouck was standing on his head.

(Aside: the Lightning can take heart in at least seeing their playoff spot clinched, even if they’re cemented behind Florida.)

Plenty of eyes were on the Panthers as they attempted to lock up the Atlantic, but others couldn’t help but survey John Scott’s return to the NHL.

He didn’t really make a big difference in the box score, yet Scott did enjoy a moment or two:

Apparently this is it for Scott and the Canadiens:

Again, though, Tuesday was more about the Panthers and some guy with insane skills and funny tweets.

Bruins lose in shootout, so Lightning are officially in the playoffs


The Tampa Bay Lightning might lose to the New York Rangers despite starting with a 2-0 lead, yet the scoreboard might still provide some relief … assuming they can see some out-of-town results.

(OK, so maybe only Lightning fans will get to utter a sigh of relief, at least for now.)

With the Boston Bruins’ 2-1 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on the docket, the Lightning are guaranteed a spot in the 2016 playoffs. The NHL provided the ‘ol ticket punched graphic and everything:

The Bruins aren’t hopeless yet, but they remain outside of the East’s top eight thanks to tiebreaker advantages held by the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings.

via NHL.com

As you can see, this loss hurts, although the Bruins at least managed to grind out a standings point.