James O'Brien

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

‘Carey Price was Carey Price’ in Habs preseason finale


It’s a question for at least a few Montreal Canadiens fans heading into 2016-17: will Carey Price be, well, Carey Price next season?

The question comes up because Price was on top of the goaltending world in 2014-15, only to see injuries derail last season. With a turbulent offseason behind the Habs, it would be a rather large problem if Price struggled to regain his footing (even if it would be understandable, all things considered).

Now, it’s dangerous to put too much weight in preseason results – quick, name your team’s record from the 2014 preseason from memory – but Montreal had to be happy about the way things closed out on Thursday.

They clobbered the rival Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1, with plenty of important names rising to the occasion.

Including the most important one.

“I just kept looking back [and thought], ‘Well, welcome back,'” Nathan Beaulieu said, according to NHL.com. “It’s nice to see he didn’t really miss a beat. Carey Price was Carey Price tonight.”

Price backed up that optimism, saying “I feel like I’ve prepared well enough for the season to start.”

(You almost get the impression that such a decisive win leaves Montreal feeling anxious with a week between this preseason finale and the 2016-17 season-opener against the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 13.)

The icing on the cake for Montreal is that other noteworthy players, particularly some new faces, enjoyed strong moments last night.

Most obviously, Shea Weber scored a goal in his debut for the Canadiens:

That wasn’t all. Andrew Shaw scored two goals and Alex Radulov combined with Alex Galchenyuk for this eyebrow-raiser:

Auston Matthews also had his great moments, scoring Toronto’s only goal and making some splendid moves. Also, William Nylander might have made himself an enemy:

So it wasn’t perfect in a literal sense for the Canadiens, especially with Jeff Petry leaving the game thanks to an injury.

Still, it was pretty close, as it’s tough to beat Carey Price being Carey Price.

Hurricane Matthew doesn’t scare Jaromir Jagr


If you want to be silly about it, bill this as Mother Nature vs. Father Time.

Most players and members of the Florida Panthers admitted to the Miami Herald that Hurricane Matthew is striking some fear into their hearts – Gerard Gallant apparently loaded up on Coke Zero – but Jaromir Jagr gave the frightening storm a mere shoulder shrug.

Apparently he isn’t stocking up on goods, perhaps revealing his identity as a hockey cyborg.*

“I’m OK,” Jagr said. “People have to survive for two weeks without water, I can go two days. I have just my body; I want to see how strong I am.”

Well, he does sort of resemble Wolverine these days (sorry Max Pacioretty), so maybe he’ll be OK.

Earlier today, it was announced that a Panthers – Tampa Bay Lightning game was canceled outright. So at least the league is taking the weather seriously.

* – Kidding. Probably.

Ducks send Theodore to AHL, end Bergenheim’s PTO


The Anaheim Ducks continued a busy stretch of roster tweaks on Thursday, including sending Brandon Montour and Shea Theodore to the AHL while they ended Sean Bergenheim’s PTO.

(Also: The Ducks also sent Kalle Kossila to the AHL while ending Kyle MacKinnon’s PTO and also assigning him to the AHL.)

This winds the Ducks’ roster to 28 players. It’s unclear if these tweaks mean anything as far as the Ducks’ dealings with two key RFAs Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell. You can view their training camp roster here.

(For what it’s worth, Pierre LeBrun mentioned Cam Fowler as a possible trade piece in the latest edition of TSN’s Insider Trading.)

Anaheim also waived Clayton Stoner on Thursday. The Ducks dispatched Bergenheim much in the same way that they said goodbye to notable PTOs with David Booth and David Jones.

Randy Carlyle said that Theodore and Montour would have every opportunity to make the team this year, but it looks like they’ll need to wait for their next chances.

Another groin injury for a Blue Jackets goalie


Sheesh, the Columbus Blue Jackets haven’t escaped the preseason and they’ve already been hit hard by a groin injury to a goalie.

It’s strange to say it, but at least it isn’t Bob this time.

Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen told the Columbus Dispatch’s Tom Reed that Joonas Korpisalo will miss about four weeks thanks to a groin injury suffered on Tuesday.

It isn’t wise to dismiss Korpisalo, even if the team is basing its hopes on Sergei Bobrovsky remaining healthy. The Finnish netminder was a bright spot for Columbus last season, going 16-11-4 with a strong .920 save percentage.

Columbus is more prepared than other teams would be to lose a backup, as they can turn to Curtis McElhinney and/or Anton Forsberg to serve as a No. 2 behind Bob while Korpisalo recovers.

Update: The Blue Jackets announced that Forsberg, Sonny Milano and Markus Hannikainen were sent to the AHL.

P.K. Subban: It was a ‘personality trade,’ not a hockey trade


Now that the gloves have really come off, it’s been wildly entertaining to watch P.K. Subban snipe at the Montreal Canadiens for that trade to the Nashville Predators.

The superstar defenseman notably omitted Canadiens logos from a tribute to Scott Gomez. He landed some barbs on the franchise during a charitable comedy show. He also pumped Nashville’s tires as a place where he’s comfortable, which isn’t aggressive, but still might sting for Habs fans who hate the trade.

He hasn’t been coy about the awkward feelings, yet Thursday presented one of his best statements yet.

Apparently Subban told Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt that the move wasn’t business; it was personal.

“People said it was a hockey trade. I think it’s the furthest from that,” Subban said to Prewitt, by way of TSN’s Frank Seravalli. “I think it was a personality trade.”

Well then.

If that isn’t enough to sour the milk of Montreal fans who hate the move, EA Sports’ NHL 17 season simulation really rubbed salt in their wounds.

Apparently, EA’s video game predicted a situation where Subban and the Nashville Predators would win the Stanley Cup by (gulp) beating the Canadiens … in Montreal.


As a reminder, the Predators face the Canadiens in Nashville on Jan. 3 and in Montreal on March 2.

Yes, that is indeed too long of a wait.