James O'Brien

New Jersey Devils v Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning go away from Drouin in Game 5

In a bursting group of promising young forwards, Jonathan Drouin stands out as a possible star of the future. The present is still a work in progress, though.

After making his NHL postseason debut in Game 4, Drouin won’t play for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. He’s a healthy scratch, as Bryan Burns of the team’s website reports.

Considering his potential, some might find this confounding, yet even a simple look at the numbers explains the Bolts’ thinking. Drouin was a -2 in Game 4, which is troubling in a 3-2 overtime win. His ice time really revealed a lack of confidence, though, as he only received 8:42 TOI.

Does that mean Drouin won’t get another chance during the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs? Not necessarily, but this definitely a bit of a setback for the third pick of the 2013 NHL Draft.

Going the distance: Isles edge Caps to force Game 7

Washington Capitals v New York Islanders - Game Six

If this is indeed the game that closes down New York Islanders contests at Nassau Coliseum, then they’re leaving the building roaring. They also ended the game with a brawl.

The Islanders managed a 3-1 win in front of a boisterous home crowd on Saturday, forcing a Game 7 against the Washington Capitals. It was a tight, physical contest. An empty-net goal makes the score deceptive, as it was very close.

Both goalies played very well, with the decisive goal involving a wild moment between Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares and Nikolai Kulemin …

… And really, just about everyone on the ice, if we’re being honest.

One might not think bad blood when you hear Islanders vs. Capitals, at least in 2015. That’s absolutely an accurate way to describe the feelings between these two squads, as they even traded blows after the final whistle.

It’s been a heck of a first-round series between two of the East’s better teams, so it only seems fitting that it’s going the distance. The Verizon Center crowd has its work cut out for it if they want to match the atmosphere in Game 6, too.

Everything happens: Ovechkin nails Tavares, Isles score

Washington Capitals v New York Islanders - Game Six

When a questionable hit by Alex Ovechkin on John Tavares might not be the most noteworthy moment in a shift, you know it’s a wild sequence of events.

The New York Islanders and Washington Capitals engaged in some rough stuff even before that Ovechkin hit, but amid all the chaos, Nikolai Kulemin scored a 2-1 goal that could indeed be huge in Game 6:

Tavares earned an assist both literally and figuratively on that play, as so much attention came after he grabbed the puck and then took that hit.

There were no penalties on the play, just the goal. Is there some question that a whistle should have come during that frantic turn of events?

Video: Some skill, a lot of luck for Caps’ Holtby

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In “Any Given Sunday,” Al Pacino gives a speech about “a game of inches.” Sometimes that rings quite literally true, such as a moment in the second period between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals.

Mikhail Grabovski was this close to scoring his first career postseason goal. Instead, it bounced harmlessly away, and Braden Holtby was able to freeze the puck shortly afterward:

Keep this moment in mind if Game 6 ends up being a one-goal game, especially if Washington manages to win. The contest remains 1-1 as the third period begins.

The second period also included an interesting moment, as Islanders defenseman Matt Donovan received a 10-minute misconduct during this exchange. Perhaps it was something he said?

Seabrook does it again: Blackhawks win in triple OT, take 3-1 series edge vs. Preds


In the wee hours of the night, the Chicago Blackhawks took a 3-1 series lead by beating the Nashville Predators 3-2 in triple OT.

If that outcome feels familiar for a Blackhawks team that has won many of these battles, it will only seem that much more like deja vu when you consider the fact that Brent Seabrook scored the overtime-clincher.


It was a great showcase between $7 million goalie Pekka Rinne and out-of-nowhere backup Scott Darling. Those performances really make a great argument for the wild unpredictability of the postseason: goalies matter, yet you don’t always know who will make the difference.

Seabrook ended up making the ultimate difference with the winning goal, joining the likes of Petr Nedved and Keith Primeau as players who have scored huge tallies when everyone has dead legs.

At this point, it’s all about waiting for different folk tale-like stories about weight loss and intermission pizza to trickle in.

Rinne really stood on his head at times, with this save maybe being the best highlight of the game beyond the clincher:

Ultimately, that last shot beat him, which is what most people will remember as the specifics fade.

Classic game or not, the two teams must face the reality of the aftermath. Despite pushing Chicago to double-OT in Game 1 and triple-OT in Game 4, Nashville now heads home down 3-1 in this series. As courageous as this Predators team has been with Mike Fisher and especially Shea Weber out of the lineup, most are counting them out after this loss.

The Predators have pushed the Blackhawks a lot more than the 3-1 series deficit may indicate, but it will take a lot of heart to push through this crushing loss.

Chicago, meanwhile, can get a much-needed breather if they wrap this one up in five games. If the previous four contests are any indication, it won’t be easy, though.