James O'Brien

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

Datsyuk’s agent basically gives non-answer about Russia rumors


If Detroit Red Wings fans were hoping for reassurance from Pavel Datsyuk‘s representatives regarding Elliotte Friedman’s report about a possible departure to Russia are out of luck.

Now, that doesn’t mean his reps say that Datsyuk is leaving. Instead, the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James received a statement from agent Dan Milstein that doesn’t really tell you anything:

Dan Milstein, who has managed Datsyuk for 12 years and is also his agent, said in an e-mail that, “Pavel has one more year left on his NHL contract. We will sit down with Ken Holland at the conclusion of the season for our annual year-end meeting.

“Pavel is very determined to play and show his best game while helping, assisting and motivating his team into the playoffs and another Stanley Cup.”

Well, that’s better than “no comment.” Maybe.

As this post details, it’s not just that the Red Wings are losing an aging superstar in a scenario where Datsyuk leaves after this season. As a veteran with a 35+ contract, Detroit will be on the hook for Datsyuk’s $7.5 million cap hit even if the genius forward doesn’t play in 2016-17.

(About the only silver lining of that situation is that at least Datsyuk’s contract expires after 2016-17, so the damage would at least be limited.)

So, long story short, it’s possible that Datsyuk and maybe those close to him only really know how accurate that report really is.

Bruins’ playoff hopes take big hit after comeback falls short vs. Chicago


“Almost” might just be a word that will haunt the Boston Bruins after Sunday.

It’s possible that people will use that word regarding a failed playoff bid, and it’s definitely something that can be trotted out regarding their 6-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks this afternoon.

For quite some time, it looked like the Blackhawks would absolutely humiliate the Bruins. Tuukka Rask was chased from the Bruins’ net, Patrick Kane hit the 100-point plateau with a huge output and Chicago roared to a 6-0 lead.

Fittingly, some quick goals changed the feel of this one.

The Bruins managed a pair of goals in little time to give themselves more confidence heading into the third period, and things really got interesting there, with the B’s closing the gap to a 6-4 lead for Chicago.

Ultimately, Boston didn’t reach the finish line, even with an “almost” or two in the late stages.

Now, keep in mind that the Bruins aren’t mathematically eliminated by any stretch.

Still, it’s a defeat that may haunt the Bruins. The Detroit Red Wings are one point ahead for the third spot in the Atlantic Division, with both teams holding three games remaining. The Philadelphia Flyers are also one point ahead of the Bruins with 91 standings points … and Philly holds two games in hand.

So, yeah, this hurts. Even so, the Bruins can keep hope alive by noting a huge April 7 game against the Red Wings, and the fight they showed even if it ended up being too little, too late.

It’s “almost” as if this was a death blow, but luckily for the Bruins and their fans, that’s one almost that’s on their side.

Note: the Blackhawks get the win … but Marian Hossa may be injured. More on that later on Sunday or when an update comes.

Patrick Kane gets hat trick, hits 100 points, makes Bruins miserable


You know how the Boston Bruins were off to a rough start while the Chicago Blackhawks dominated the first period?

Yeah, it got worse for Boston.

The Blackhawks are off to a 6-0 lead deep into the second period of what’s more or less a must-win game for the Bruins. Tuukka Rask was given the early hook, yet things really didn’t get much better afterward.

Patrick Kane is really taking the spotlight, however.

With a hat trick and an assist, Kane’s enjoying a special afternoon, hitting the 100-point mark for the first time in his career. (And likely becoming the only player to do so this season, barring a blazing run by Jamie Benn or someone else close-ish to the mix.)

In the near-certain instance that Kane’s points lead remains, he’ll be the first American player to win the Art Ross Trophy. Honestly, it might not even be close.

Video: Kane’s beautiful goal spotlights Blackhawks’ early dominance of B’s


It almost feels like the Boston Bruins are stuck in snooze mode with an afternoon game on NBC.

The Bruins are fighting for their playoff lives, yet the Chicago Blackhawks are carrying the play early on, with the benefit of a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

It wasn’t just those two goals, either. The Blackhawks have been hogging the puck to the tune of a 19-8 edge in shots on goal.

Patrick Kane‘s pretty breakaway goal puts the icing on the cake:

The good news for the Bruins is that they have two periods to fight back. If Chicago maintains its early level of play, it won’t be easy.

Also not easy: keeping your cool when a huge defenseman is in your face …

WATCH LIVE: Huge game for Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks on NBC


The Boston Bruins probably haven’t played a more important game against the Chicago Blackhawks since the two teams jostled for a Stanley Cup.

Really, this is one of their most important games since then, period.

As of Sunday, the Bruins are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, but one win can change that outlook … at least for a little while. Read more about the various scenarios here.

It’s Scott Darling vs. Tuukka Rask in the nets, and plenty of talent on both sides. Enjoy the action on NBC and stream it via the link below.