James O'Brien

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

Looks like Craig Smith is back for Predators in Game 6

The Nashville Predators have their backs against the wall, but they’re getting one of their best snipers back for Game 6.

After missing Games 4 and 5 against the Anaheim Ducks, all signs point to Craig Smith being back in the Predators’ mix. (He only played about a minute of Game 3.)

Smith made a big impact in Game 2, scoring a goal and an assist.

If warm-ups are any indication, Smith will line up with Calle Jarnkrok and Mike Ribeiro:

PHT will make note if Smith has a setback and cannot play after all. He looks good to go at the moment.

WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action


With two games, Monday is light on quantity … but oh boy, talk about quality.

You really can’t get much better than a Game 7, which we’ll be treated to for sure tonight and possibly again if the Predators can survive against the Ducks. Expect a lot of nervous hockey fans this evening.

Here’s how you can watch the games (get your two screen options ready)…

Anaheim at Nashville (8:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 6 will be on CNBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Chicago at St. Louis (8:30 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 7 will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Here’s some reading material to get you ready for tonight’s action:

Hitchcock loves Tarasenko’s passion for the game

Blackhawks dig deep, force Game 7

Blues’ Stastny: ‘History has to change eventually’

Video: Ribeiro lands an ugly spear on Perry 

Ducks take 3-2 series lead after edging Predators in Game 5

The Red Wings aren’t giving up on Pavel Datsyuk returning just yet


Earlier today, PHT went deep on the state of the Detroit Red Wings, but let’s take an extra look at Pavel Datsyuk‘s possible departure from the NHL.

Some interesting tidbits surfaced on Monday that at least leave the door slightly ajar on Datsyuk returning to the NHL in 2016-17 … especially if the Red Wings get their way.

The latest word is that the Red Wings “desperately” want him back and will beg him to stay sit down and talk with him in June, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

Datsyuk continues to play coy on the subject, at least publicly.

It sounds like he’ll have a better idea regarding 2016-17 once he’s finished participating in the World Hockey Championships.

Honestly, it still sounds like Datsyuk will opt for Russia instead for various reasons, but the Red Wings seem to think they at least have a chance to keep him around for one more year.

Brayden Schenn will have hearing with NHL for hit on T.J. Oshie


The Philadelphia Flyers’ season is over, but “out of sight, out of mind” might not be the NHL’s policy regarding Brayden Schenn.

As you can see from the video above, Schenn delivered a controversial hit that shook up Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie in Game 6.

Oshie was able to return to the contest, which the Capitals ultimately won 1-0 to eliminate the Flyers.

One would think that might help Schenn’s cause a bit, but either way, the league announced a hearing will take place with the forward on Tuesday.

The NHL didn’t specify if it would be done over the telephone or in person, which would affect the ceiling for any sort of punishment.

We don’t often see supplemental discipline handed out to players who’ve seen their teams get bounced from the playoffs, so this could be especially interesting to watch.

Schenn is scheduled to be a restricted free agent this summer.

Alex Ovechkin sounds pretty excited to face the Penguins


Sure, there’s probably a Debbie Downer here or there who will complain about Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.

(This post is on the Internet, where you can find a person to complain about virtually anything.)

Most hockey fans and observers are giddy with excitement about these two teams facing off for the first time since 2009.

It doesn’t hurt that, after seeing both franchises stumble seriously in the intervening years, it seems like both the Penguins and Capitals are in a relatively good place. Washington won the Presidents’ Trophy while the Penguins have been called the hottest team in the NHL right now.

Alex Ovechkin sure seems excited, too, as you can see in the video above.