James O'Brien

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

Video: Mathew Dumba scores big goal, delivers big hit

Heading into Sunday’s 2016 Stadium Series game against the Chicago Blackhawks, many wondered about the Minnesota Wild.

Sure, they won three straight games under new head coach John Torchetti, but could they keep it going against tougher opponents.

It’s very early, but the answer so far is an emphatic “Yes,” and Mathew Dumba played a big role in that hot start.

As you can see in the video above, Dumba opened up the scoring by putting home Ryan Carter‘s rebound opportunity. That wasn’t his only impact in the opening frame, either, as he delivered a big hit too:

One would imagine that plenty of Wild fans feel pretty good right about now. Can you blame them?

That’s mean: Alex Steen on IR, Blues will re-evaluate him in a month

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The St. Louis Blues have been remarkably resilient amid serious injuries this season. They’ll need to keep up that trend after getting some lousy news on Sunday.

Alexander Steen has been placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury, and he’ll be re-evaluated in four weeks.

That means he’ll miss at least that much time, maybe more. The Blues have to at least wonder if he’ll out for the remainder of the regular season.

About the only semi-positive spin is that this happened before the Feb. 29 trade deadline rather than after it, so GM Doug Armstrong can add some help if he feels justified.

Steen probably got hurt here:

The Blues won that game against the Arizona (cos-playing as Phoenix) Coyotes, but it could very well come at a huge cost.

And just to think, the Blues were just getting used to the “luxury” of having a healthy Jaden Schwartz in the lineup …

Flyers aren’t looking for rentals (but should they be?)

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The Philadelphia Flyers made a series of injury-related announcements on Sunday, and overall, it’s a mixed bag.

  • Claude Giroux skated with Sean Couturier. It’s “possible” that Giroux might play against the Carolina Hurricanes while Couturier is day-to-day and ahead of schedule.
  • Surgery is scheduled for Michael Del Zotto, who will have ligament repair surgery on his wrist. The team put his recovery window at three-to-four months, so his season is over.
  • Jordan Weal‘s approximately a week-and-half away from being healthy enough to return, it seems.

GM Ron Hextall was pretty vague about the Flyers’ approach toward the Feb. 29 trade deadline, by the way:

As of this writing, the Flyers are five points out of the East’s final wild card spot. Sports Club Stats gives Philly a 26.4 percent chance of making the playoffs.

More precisely, though, Hextall said the team isn’t interested in rentals:

Is that the right way to go, though? Which way would you lean if you were in Hextall’s shoes: more toward buying or selling?

Penguins hold off Sabres, strengthen hold on playoff spot

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With Ryan O'Reilly on the shelf, the Pittsburgh Penguins probably hoped to dominate the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

It didn’t happen that way, but grabbing a win was the most important thing, and Pittsburgh did that by holding on for a 4-3 victory.

(And, hey, to be fair … Evgeni Malkin‘s still out of the lineup, too. He was placed on IR on Sunday, by the way.)

Again, not a perfect game for the Penguins.

Still, they got points from the usual suspects (a goal each from Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist, plus an assist by Sidney Crosby) while young forward Scott Wilson pitched in another goal.

Kris Letang was probably the real standout, racking up three assists.

Zach Bogosian really unleashed his hard shot in this one, scoring two goals and adding an assist in Buffalo’s charge to try to push the game to overtime. The Sabres’ power play was a double-edged sword, as they went 2-for-3 but allowed a Matt Cullen shorthanded tally.

The Penguins find themselves more solidly in the playoff mix, moving at least briefly up to the first wild card spot (Detroit could push them to second this evening). Sure, they stumble here and there, but Pittsburgh continues to stride in the right direction.

Goalie nods: Crawford vs. Dubnyk in the elements

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We’ve seen Marc-Andre Fleury top Robin Lehner, but what about the rest of the starters during Hockey Day in America?

Well, we know that it will be Corey Crawford for the Chicago Blackhawks and Devan Dubnyk for the Minnesota Wild for the 2016 Stadium Series’ game in Minnesota.

This isn’t Crawford’s first rodeo, as the Blackhawks are quite familiar with these events. He’s enjoyed a strong season as Chicago’s relatively unsung hero in net.

Dubnyk’s seen highs and lows much like many of his Wild teammates, but he’s hoping to keep Minnesota’s winning streak going under new head coach John Torchetti.

It sounds like the sun won’t be an issue, but it’s still a contest with more than 50,000 people in attendance, so we’ll see if this game ends up being tightly played or high-scoring.

Elsewhere …

Red Wings at Rangers: Likely Jimmy Howard vs. Henrik Lundqvist

Lightning at Hurricanes: Ben Bishop vs. Cam Ward

Flames at Ducks: Jonas Hiller vs. (best guess) Frederik Andersen

Avalanche at Canucks: Semyon Varlamov vs. Ryan Miller