James O'Brien

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

Helm, Red Wings frustrate Lundqvist and Rangers with OT rally


Henrik Lundqvist finished his first game back with the New York Rangers in a foul mood, which seems a lot like how he entered his brief injury break.

This time around, it was the Detroit Red Wings leaving Lundqvist grumbling with a late rally that transformed into a 3-2 overtime win.

Former Rangers forward Brad Richards sent the game into overtime with a power-play goal in the dying seconds of the third period. After that, Darren Helm‘s second goal of the night was the overtime-clincher.

Lundqvist was impressive in his return, earning “reflexes of a cat”-type compliments.

Those flattering remarks probably don’t mean much to a feisty Lundqvist.

As you can see from that tweet, the (Evgeni Malkin-less) Pittsburgh Penguins will face an angry Lundqvist tomorrow, which is fitting in a way since they’re the team that made him so irritated a little more than a week ago.

Bold prediction: someone will bring up Marc-Andre Fleury describing Lundqvist’s antics as “baby stuff” tomorrow.

Oh no, Geno: Penguins say Evgeni Malkin is out 6-8 weeks


Awful news for the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday: the team announced that Evgeni Malkin is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks with an upper-body injury.

Malkin suffered that issue in what looks to be a costly win from Friday. You can see the likely moment of injury in the video above.

There is about a month left in the season, so if that six-to-eight week window is accurate (we’ve seen players like Patrick Kane come back surprisingly early when the playoffs are involved), then the Penguins would need to win a round or two for Malkin to play again in 2016-17.

The high-scoring forward has been banged up at times this season, and the Penguins have been able to scrap together wins, but now they’ll need to hold onto their playoff spot without him.

This continues a rather disturbing pattern of injuries around playoff time for Pittsburgh, as it seems rare that they’ve gone into many postseasons with all of Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury at 100 percent.

They’re probably not quite “used to it” even if they’ve been through this before.

One small silver lining:

Ducks lose Sami Vatanen to injury, fall to Avs


There really aren’t great times for injuries, but we’re at the time of year when an ailment can really hurt.

The trade deadline’s behind us, and with a month left in the season, coaches aren’t too enthusiastic about sitting players for virtual “bye weeks” just yet.

The Anaheim Ducks are already struggling in being down 3-0 to the Colorado Avalanche, yet that’s likely not their biggest concern. Sami Vatanen suffered an upper-body injury tonight, and he won’t be able to return.

It isn’t immediately clear what caused the injury or how serious the issue is beyond sidelining him for at least this game.

Update: The Avalanche ended up winning 3-0.

Video: Kings’ tributes to Justin Williams and Mike Richards


Los Angeles Kings vs. Washington Capitals isn’t just a barometer for where two of the NHL’s best contenders are at with a month remaining in the season.

It’s also something of a reunion, as Los Angeles sees the return of “Mr. Game 7” and a player who left on some very awkward terms.

Despite how different their exits felt, the Kings provided heartfelt tributes (and fans serenaded those players) in two videos for Mike Richards and Justin Williams respectively on Wednesday.


Watch it this way, if you prefer:


Rivalry night, indeed: Blues squeeze by Blackhawks in shootout


It hasn’t always (or maybe even often) been pretty for the St. Louis Blues, but they’ve been resilient enough to stay in the Central Division race.

Wednesday provided a showcase for that do-what-it-takes mentality, as they managed a 3-2 shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks. With this win, St. Louis is now a point behind Chicago and the Dallas Stars in this hotly contested division.

Jake Allen likely deserves the most credit for this win, as he helped the Blues navigate some choppy waters early on. The Blackhawks opened the scoring by taking advantage of a controversial five-minute major and game misconduct on Ryan Reaves.

That moment planted the seeds for a physical contest that lived up to the “rivalry night” billing.

Eventually, the Blues started to get some penalty calls going their way (initially to Bronx cheers from the St. Louis crowd). St. Louis scored twice on the power play, yet they couldn’t keep Artemi Panarin from sending this game to overtime.

The two teams got through that 3-on-3 OT, and then the shootout provided plenty of thrills, including a stupendous goal by Panarin.

Ultimately, the Blues came out on top, and they provided another reminder that they won’t be easy to deal with. We’ll need to wait and see if they’re peskier in the race for the division title or more so a headache of a first-round opponent.