James O'Brien

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

Brandon Manning wins it for the Flyers


The Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers both boast a bevvy of enviably talented young players, so it only makes sense that a fresh face made the difference.

Granted, Brandon Manning might be “old” by certain standards at 26 but … you get the idea.

His shorthanded goal ended up being the difference as the Flyers topped the Hurricanes 4-3 on Sunday:

The win also is a boost for Michal Neuvirth, who hasn’t gained a victory since being in net for the Flyers’ season-opening win. Philly’s next game is a Wednesday Night Rivalry clash with the Detroit Red Wings on NBCSN.

Sceviour’s first hat trick powers Panthers vs. Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers are getting big production from smaller names, and not just Jonathan Marchessault.

Marchessault did keep his hot streak going with a goal on Sunday, but it was Colton Sceviour‘s first career hat trick that stole the show in a 5-2 drubbing of the Detroit Red Wings.

Sceviour began his run of scoring with two goals in just 23 seconds:

His third tally of the night came shorthanded:

Both the Panthers and Red Wings were shut out on Saturday. Florida bounced back here, while this is an early test of Detroit’s mettle as its hot streak was spoiled by back-to-back losses.

Sceviour’s celebration of one of his goals was one of the highlights of Sunday night:

Lightning get Kucherov back, Callahan makes season debut


What better time for Ryan Callahan to make his season debut for the Tampa Bay Lightning than to face the team he once captained?

The Lightning get Callahan and dangerous winger Nikita Kucherov back in the lineup tonight as they face the New York Rangers.

J.T. Brown and Matt Taormina are the scratches for Tampa Bay in the return of those two forwards.

Callahan last played for Tampa Bay on May 26. Here’s how Kucherov got hurt:

Royal pain: Kings put Brayden McNabb on IR


The Los Angeles Kings placed Brayden McNabb on injured reserve on Sunday.

While this move doesn’t devastate the Kings’ roster quite like Jonathan Quick‘s absence does, it’s another tough blow to Los Angeles, a team also without Marian Gaborik for quite some time.

McNabb is a big defenseman who’s been taking on an increasing role with the Kings. He went from averaging about 16 minutes in 2014-15 to almost 19 in 2015-16 and is now at 20:14 time on ice per contest through this young season.

The Kings have been able to stay in (and often win) recent contests by protecting Peter Budaj and hogging the puck, so this stings Darryl Sutter’s crew.

Los Angeles faces the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night.

Quite a weekend for the Buffalo Sabres

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The Buffalo Sabres strengthened an already justifiable stance this weekend: the NHL doesn’t have many – if any – truly terrible teams right now.

When you look at their schedule for Saturday and Sunday, you’d probably say they’d be lucky to grab a point or two. Instead, they blanked the Florida Panthers 3-0 on Saturday and then almost shut out the Winnipeg Jets 3-1 today.

(They missed five or six empty-net goals to inflate that last score, almost to the point of it being spooky.)

There’s no denying that great goaltending factored into this surprisingly impressive back-to-back set.

First, Anders Nilsson made 33 saves for the second shutout of his bumpy NHL career. This time around, Robin Lehner stopped 37 of 38 shots against an explosive Jets lineup.

They weren’t the only players to enjoy this two-day stretch, though. Kyle Okposo enjoyed what was likely his best weekend as a member of the Sabres, scoring three goals on four shots.

With that, the Sabres are now 3-3-2 on the season, and the standings are that much murkier.