James O'Brien

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

Video: Marchand, Pastrnak power Bruins to strong start


The Boston Bruins seemed to sleepwalk into a big game against the Chicago Blackhawks before a too-little, too-late rally this past weekend. That doesn’t appear to be an issue on Thursday, however.

Instead, the Bruins fired off two early goals in what is an enormous game against the Detroit Red Wings.

First, David Pastrnak burned Mike Green and scored the 1-0 goal (which survived an offside review), which you can watch in the video above.

About a minute later, Brad Marchand buried a nice Torey Krug pass to make it 2-0. Marchand now has 37 goals:

Before Red Wings fans slam Jimmy Howard, he did make a significant save on a Marchand shorthanded change later on in the first. That might be the kind of stop that looms large if Detroit can get back in this.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs opened up an early 1-0 lead against the Philadelphia Flyers, so tonight at least started off in a promising way for the Bruins.

Of course, the night is young, so plenty of things can change …

WATCH LIVE: Huge game as Boston Bruins host Detroit Red Wings


This game isn’t for all the marbles … but it’s for a lot of them. Or maybe for some really important ones?

Anyway, NBCSN carries quite a treat/nerve-wracking game, depending upon who’s watching.

It’s a key game for the Detroit Red Wings, who can clinch a 25th consecutive playoff berth if they beat the Boston Bruins a night after grabbing a crucial win against the Philadelphia Flyers.

This is even more important for the Bruins, as a loss to the Red Wings wouldn’t technically boot Boston from the playoffs … but it would make for some pretty scary odds for the B’s.

It all shapes up to be a captivating matchup with significant playoff implications, so tune in on NBCSN and stream it online via the link below.


NHL on NBCSN: Huge playoff implications as Red Wings host Flyers


It’s been clear for some time, but Tuesday made it official: the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers will battle it out for the East’s two remaining playoff spots.

With that in mind, plenty of eyeballs will be on NBCSN as the Red Wings host the Flyers, including those of the Bruins.

As of right now, the Flyers and Red Wings stand above the Bruins because of tiebreaker advantages, yet all three teams are obviously close at 91 standings points. More than anything else, you can safely wager that Boston wants this game to end in regulation.

Here’s a look at the East standings, or at least the portion relevant to these teams:

via NHL.com

If that isn’t thrilling enough, consider how much control the Red Wings hold over this race. Detroit isn’t only facing Philly tonight, they’re also taking on the Bruins on Thursday.

As the above graphic shows, the Flyers hold a significant edge in games in hand with four games remaining, but they’ll need to earn it. They finish the season with a daunting set of four games in five days, with two back-to-back sets.

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol probably says it best: “We’re in work mode.”

Really, there’s not much separating the Bruins, Flyers or Red Wings. It really might come down to which team works the hardest (and/or works “the smartest”).

It all makes for fascinating viewing on NBCSN tonight.

PHT Morning Skate: Should the Capitals be worried?


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Are NHL head coaches waiting too long to pull their goalies? (TSN)

Sean “Down Goes Brown” McIndoe runs down 10 possible first-round playoff series, ranking them in order of excitement factor. (Sportsnet)

Remembering five great moments at Rexall Place with the Edmonton Oilers about to close the building down. Spoiler alert: Wayne Gretzky will probably be mentioned. (The Hockey News)

Mike Babcock: not a big fan of the salary cap. (Sportsnet)

Does this shine a light on his political leanings?

Want to identify a team going into the playoffs hot? Here’s one way (noting that these results came from before Tuesday’s action kicked in …)

Oddsmakers aren’t concerned about the Caps, though. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)

This is a nice gesture from the New Jersey Devils to beat writer Tom Gulitti.

Blackhawks blow out Coyotes, Vermette injures Anisimov


The Chicago Blackhawks absolutely dominated the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday in a 6-2 win, but there was a significant injury loss.

The good news is that the early word is that Artem Anisimov is only considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury. At least for now.

Former Blackhawks forward Antoine Vermette received a game misconduct for that check on Anisimov. For whatever it’s worth, Vermette apologized about the hit.

Jonathan Toews was mostly diplomatic:

The hit: