James O'Brien

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

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.

Johnny Be Fast: Gaudreau scores two goals in 10 seconds


It’s been a disappointing season for a Calgary Flames that came into 2015-16 with high hopes, but the last player you should blame is Johnny Gaudreau.

The magical forward hasn’t suffered from a sophomore slump, and in fact is largely justifying the hype that developed from his fantastic rookie season.

With two goals in 10 seconds, Gaudreau dazzled against the Nashville Predators. He’s now at 65 points, which marks a new career-high for the budding star. (Gaudreau ended the night with 66 points.)

Video of both goals in one clip will be added if available, but for now, here’s the second tally:

Gaudreau didn’t beat Lanny McDonald’s mark, but Flames fans probably aren’t complaining.

Update: Nashville managed to extend its franchise-record point streak to 14 games by pushing the game to overtime, but Gaudreau set up the overtime game-winner or an impressive three-point night.

Video: If Jonathan Toews is hurt, this is how it happened


At minimum, the Chicago Blackhawks need to monitor Jonathan Toews‘ health.

He’s been bouncing in and out of the remainder of tonight’s game against the St. Louis Blues after an unfortunate moment when he collided with a slightly open Blues bench.

(You can see the moment that shook him up in the video above.)’

Again, Toews did return to the ice, yet he’s looked less than 100 percent. Andrew Shaw and Tomas Fleischmann are other Blackhawks to watch as far as possible injuries go during a physical rivalry game.

Update: It sounds like Toews is OK.

Shaw and Fleischmann appear fine, too.

Wrong call? Ryan Reaves gets ejected for hit on Christian Ehrhoff


The Chicago Blackhawks received a five-minute power play after St. Louis Blues tough guy Ryan Reaves was ejected for a charging hit on Christian Ehrhoff.

You can watch that check, with multiple replays, in the video above.

Blues fans weren’t happy about that call, but that often is the case with home crowds. The difference here is that many others felt that the punishment was excessive, including plenty of members of the NBCSN crew.

Here’s a GIF of the hit, too:

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones believed that it was the wrong call, too.

Update: The NHL might take a look at the hit for possible supplementary discipline.