James O'Brien

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

Team USA narrowly avoids blowing lead against Finland


For two periods, it seemed like the story would be Team USA finishing off its exhibition schedule with a head of steam. Instead, they stumbled a bit toward the exit.

After falling behind 3-0, Finland scored two goals in the third period and generated some great looks on a late power play. There were more than a few close calls, yet Jonathan Quick & Co. held on for a 3-2 victory.

Yes, it was only an exhibition game, but John Tortorella might want to consider how his team played with a lead.

The United States was pretty dominant through the first two periods, peaking with this beautiful tic-tac-toe goal.

A Derek Stepan breakaway goal ended up standing as the game-winner.

From Finland’s end, Pekka Rinne didn’t exactly demand the starting job with his work at times on Tuesday.

One of the highlights for Finland was Patrik Laine. He scored a goal and seemed to show the kind of trigger-happy, dangerous shooting instincts that Verizon Center fans have experienced with Alex Ovechkin.

Rasmus Ristolainen also looked great at times in this exhibition.

Team USA kicks off its round robin schedule with a game against Europe on Saturday. Finland kicks off its schedule with a match against Team North America on Sunday.

Ryan O’Reilly takes Tyler Seguin’s spot for Team Canada


Team Canada decided not to wait to announce Tyler Seguin‘s replacement for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, tabbing Ryan O'Reilly as the guy.

As you’d expect from the powerhouse hockey nation, Canada had plenty of great choices to sift through, ranging from the more rugged (Wayne Simmonds?) to the sort of talented player who was drafted before Seguin (Taylor Hall).

O’Reilly is a fine choice, if stylistically quite different from Seguin.

Could be accurate.

With O’Reilly and Patrice Bergeron among Canada’s mix, you won’t find many better two-way combinations in this tournament.

At the moment, the most known about Seguin is that he’s reportedly day-to-day with a knee injury.

The Stars released the following statement about Seguin, who is “disappointed” to back out of the tournament.

Canada’s GM Doug Armstrong also discussed the unfortunate news.

Reality sinks in as P.K. Subban skates with Predators for the first time

via Nashville Predators

P.K. Subban seems primed to be a great, great fit for the Nashville Predators.

It’s still a little mind-blowing to realize that the trade actually happened, though.

Tuesday presented the latest reminder of that reality, as Subban geared up for the 2016-17 season by skating with his new teammates for the first time. Despite the considerable talent on hand in Nashville, it’s interesting that the team notes the presence of “almost every NHL regular in attendance.”

Aside from a Filip Forsberg here and a Pekka Rinne there, quite a few key Predators aren’t involved in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Subban, of course, stands as the most glaring omission.

That’s not such a bad thing for the Predators, as it gives their new star more time to get acclimated and means that he’ll deal with less exposure to injury risks. Subban notes that he doesn’t skate too often during the off-season, so this is a useful tune-up overall.

Seriously though, it’s still a little weird to see Subban in a Predators jersey:

Report: Knee injury might end Tyler Seguin’s World Cup appearance


Tyler Seguin might be out of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey because of a knee injury, according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos.

Earlier in the night, Kypreos indicated that he would be out week-to-week, but he updated it to more of a 7-10 day window. That’s good news for the Dallas Stars, but not so much for Canada.

If this report is accurate, then Canada will have some time to figure out a replacement. During that same Sportsnet intermission report, Elliotte Friedman notes that they have 24 hours until the tournament begins to bring someone else in.

It’s possible that this was the moment of the reported injury:

Nothing official has surfaced from Canada or the Dallas Stars, but you can bet that Seguin’s NHL team will demand a safer approach to their star, particularly after his injury-ravaged end to 2015-16.

Canucks announce three PTOs, including Tuomo Ruutu


The Vancouver Canucks confirmed today’s earlier news about handing James Sheppard a PTO, but there are two other names on the invite list: Tuomo Ruutu and Kevin Carr.

It’s interesting that the Canucks are taking fliers on two players who struggled a bit to live up to first-round hype.

As PHT discussed earlier, Sheppard found it difficult to live up to being the ninth pick of the 2006 NHL Draft. Interestingly enough, Ruutu was also the ninth selection five years earlier in 2001.

Ruutu’s numbers have really dropped in his last few seasons with the New Jersey Devils, managing just an assist in 33 games in 2015-16.

Sheppard may actually have a little more potential to make an impact since he’s still just 28 (Ruutu’s dealt with a lot of wear and tear thanks to his physical style and is 33 years old).

Carr, 26, is a goalie who spent last season in the ECHL and hasn’t played in the NHL so far in his netminding career.