James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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WATCH LIVE: Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks

It’s rarely a bad time when you get to soak in the sun, fun and shared disdain that’s a part of “The Battle of California.”

In Monday’s case, Pacific Division-leader the Los Angeles Kings take on the division’s third-ranked squad in the San Jose Sharks.

If the Sharks want to make an unlikely surge to the title, winning this game in regulation would be the first domino in a series of events that would require some luck. Either way, this game is important for them when it comes to jockeying for at least one round of home-ice advantage.

Both the Kings and Sharks want to get the best of the Anaheim Ducks in different ways, which means they want to grab two standings points in this one.

Check out the latest chapter of this rivalry on NBCSN and stream it via the link below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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    Feeling great, indeed: Giroux scores OT winner for Flyers

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    Well, good thing Claude Giroux played tonight.

    There was plenty of speculation regarding whether the Philadelphia Flyers captain was healthy enough to play on Monday after taking a hit that might have briefly knocked him out on Saturday.

    Giroux insisted that he was feeling great heading into Monday’s match against the Winnipeg Jets. Whether he actually does feel healthy, he certainly looked great, scoring the overtime game-winning goal for a big 3-2 OT win for the Flyers.

    Naturally, overtime phenom Shayne Gostisbehere was involved, setting up the Giroux goal. Giroux also assisted on Wayne Simmonds‘ 2-0 tally, so there’s no denying No. 28’s impact in this contest.

    With this win, the Flyers will finish tonight as the second wild card, even if the Detroit Red Wings hold on for a win against the Buffalo Sabres. (Philly holds a game in hand.)

    Report: Jimmy Vesey spurns Predators, opts for free agency

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    Nope, it doesn’t sound like Jimmy Vesey will be to the Nashville Predators what Chris Kreider is to the New York Rangers.

    That would require Vesey to sign an entry-level contract with the Predators, and that’s not reportedly happening, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the Harvard forward will instead opt for free agency.

    With that, he’ll be a 22-year-old unrestricted free agent who can sign a deal … starting on August 15?

    It appears as though Vesey will follow more of the Justin Schultz model of leaving college and then not signing a deal with the team who drafted him. It’s quite interesting that Vesey decided not to sign with the Predators, which would have given him a chance to at least potentially jump right into playoff races (quite a bit like Kreider’s debut with the Rangers).

    He was a third-round pick (66th overall) in 2012, and he scored nicely for Harvard during the last two seasons in particular.

    The “Vesey Sweepstakes” might not really begin until August, but the speculation could be heavy for some time.

    Update: Here’s the latest on Nashville’s response:

    Video: Red Wings, fans celebrate Gordie Howe’s birthday in style

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    The Detroit Red Wings and their home fans did a great job celebrating the 88th birthday of “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe.

    You can see that fantastic stuff in the video above.

    NHL.com also captures much of the spirit of the evening for Howe, whose 88th birthday comes on March 31.

    The best part of it all might just be this photo of Howe with Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg:

    Tough to top that.

    Boone Jenner bloodied by puck, returns for Blue Jackets

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    One way or another, it’s looking like a rough Monday for one of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ best players of 2015-16.

    Boone Jenner‘s coming along very nicely as a budding power forward, but he might miss a little bit of time after taking a puck to the face during tonight’s contest against the Washington Capitals.

    As you can see from the video, Jenner was bloodied by the puck.

    Update: Yes, he returned, and pretty quickly.

    Have you heard that hockey players are tough?