James O'Brien

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

Wildly bad: Minnesota deems Parise, Scandella out week-to-week

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The Minnesota Wild are off to a solid start to the Bruce Boudreau era … but now comes some serious adversity.

The team announced that Zach Parise and Marco Scandella are both considered out week-to-week with their respective injuries.

It’s believed that Scandella got hurt during a battle in front of the net during Thursday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. Parise, meanwhile, might be hurt because of shot-blocking, according the Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

I’m 100 percent positive this isn’t a recurrence of last year’s back injury but instead a foot injury sustained I believe two games ago in Boston when he blocked a Brandon Carlo shot. He did block a couple in Buffalo, but I think the original injury came in Boston.

The Wild host the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.

Bruins indeed got Rask back on Saturday


Tuukka Rask is indeed in the Boston Bruins’ net for Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings, and not a moment too soon.

Actually, maybe that’s up to debate; there’s at least some concern about rushing the highly valuable goalie back before he’s ready.

The Bruins have been a mess without Rask, dropping the last three games while allowing 14 goals (while scoring just four). Saturday begins a three-game road swing, so things could get uglier if they can’t get some relief.

You know things were going poorly when GIFs like these aren’t just sources of furry fun:

Buffalo blanks Florida thanks to Nilsson’s strong afternoon


BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Anders Nilsson made 33 saves in his second NHL shutout and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Florida Panthers 3-0 on Saturday.

Sam Reinhart had a goal and an assist for Buffalo. Johan Larsson and Kyle Okposo also scored. The Sabres (2-3-2) snapped a four-game winless streak and earned their first home victory of the season.

Roberto Luongo stopped 22 shots for Florida. The Panthers (3-4-1) have lost five of six and are winless in the first three of a four-game road trip.

Nilsson, starting his third straight game in place of Robin Lehner, made 13 saves in the third period. Florida’s Vincent Trocheck shot wide on a penalty shot with 57 seconds left in the third period.

Buffalo had one goal in its first two home games but scored in all three periods Saturday. The Sabres scored twice on the power play while killing four penalties. The Panthers had a power-play goal in each of their last four games.

The Sabres took a 1-0 lead on Larsson’s first goal of the year. Marcus Foligno pushed the puck into the corner where Brian Gionta sent a backhand pass to Larsson in the right circle while falling down. Larsson lifted a wrist shot over Luongo’s glove.

Okposo scored on the power play to make it 2-0 in the second period. Luongo stopped Reinhart’s deflection of Rasmus Ristolainen‘s shot from above the right circle. Okposo lunged at the rebound off the far post and slipped a backhander under Luongo’s blocker for his second goal of the season.

Colton Sceviour‘s tripping penalty put the Sabres on the power play.

A hooking penalty on Jaromir Jagr led to Reinhart’s power play goal with 11:12 left in the game. Reinhart’s shot from behind the net bounced in off the skate of Florida defenseman Mark Pysyk, a former Sabre. It was Reinhart’s first goal of the season.


Florida: at Detroit on Sunday.

Buffalo: at Winnipeg on Sunday.

NOTES: F Shawn Thornton and D Steven Kampfer entered the Panthers’ lineup for the first time this season. Rookies D Michael Matheson and C Kyle Rau were healthy scratches. LW Jussi Jokinen missed his fourth straight game with a lower body injury. . Lehner dressed as the backup after missing two games with an illness. Lehner practiced Friday and said he expects to start the next game on Sunday. C Jack Eichel (high ankle sprain) and LW Evander Kane (cracked ribs) are both progressing in their rehabilitation but are not yet ready to practice, coach Dan Bylsma said Friday. . Pysyk and Buffalo’s Dmitry Kulikov played against their former teams for the first time since the Panthers and Sabres swapped defensemen at the NHL draft. . Ristolainen leads the Sabres with seven assists. . Linesman Tim Nowak received a plaque and autographed sticks from each team for appearing in his 1,500th NHL game. Nowak is from suburban Buffalo.

Letang isn’t quite ready to return for Penguins vs. Flyers

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have been flourishing with the return of one key player in Sidney Crosby, but they won’t get another one back tonight. Kris Letang can’t go against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Letang hasn’t played since Oct. 18 thanks to an upper-body injury.

It’s a disappointment that he’ll sit out this rivalry match, but there’s still optimism that he’s nearing a return.

“He will not be in the lineup tonight,” Head coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s making strides and getting closer. We’re hopeful we will get him back soon.”

Pittsburgh’s next game doesn’t come until Wednesday, so maybe he can get back in the mix by then.

Tonight’s game in Philly begins a set of four road games for the Penguins (which includes a three-game swing against the tough California teams).

The Penguins face a challenging November – nine away contests vs. five games at home – so rushing Letang into action could be counterproductive.

Hamilton helps Flames push winning streak to three games


CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Dougie Hamilton scored his first two goals and added an assist to lead the Calgary Flames to a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Friday night for their third straight win.

Sam Bennett, Sean Monahan and Michael Frolik also scored for Calgary, and Brian Elliott stopped 31 shots.

Erik Karlsson and Kyle Turris scored for Ottawa. Andrew Hammond started in goal and had three saves on four shots before leaving with a lower-body injury after one period. Chris Dreidger replaced him and gave up four goals on 15 shots.

With the score tied 2-2 halfway through the second, Hamilton retrieved the puck from the sideboards, spun and whipped a shot from a bad angle over the Dreidger’s shoulder.

Calgary put the game away on goals by Monahan and Frolik 2:46 apart midway through the third. Monahan scored his fourth on a wicked slap shot off a pass from Johnny Gaudreau, who had his second assist of the night. Frolik completed the scoring with his fourth of the year.

After a rocky first three starts in a Flames uniform in which he gave up 14 goals on 87 shots, Elliott has been much sharper his last three starts yielding just five goals on 88 shots.

Ottawa’s 2-1 lead to start the second period didn’t last long. Bennett fired in a centering pass from Alex Chiasson just 1:25 into the period to tie it.

Bennett has goals in three consecutive games and has six points during a four-game point streak.

The story of the first period was Ottawa’s 30th-ranked power play, which looked anything like that.

Trailing 1-0, the Senators needed just 4 seconds on their first man-advantage for Karlsson to tie the game.

Two minutes later, Ottawa went back to the extra man and converted again, with Turris’ shot eluding Elliott, who was screened by Zack Smith.

NOTES: Senators starting goalie Craig Anderson, coming off a shutout in Vancouver on Tuesday, was granted a leave from the team to attend to a personal matter. … Driedger, who played three seasons of junior hockey for the Calgary Hitmen (WHL), appeared in his third NHL game – all in relief. … Calgary first-round pick Matthew Tkachuk played in his seventh game, creeping closer to the point where the Flames need to make a decision on whether to send him back to London of the OHL. If he plays in a 10th game, the first year of his entry-level contract will kick-in.


Senators: At Edmonton on Sunday night before returning home for three games in five days.

Flames: Host Washington on Sunday night before heading out on a four-game trip.