James O'Brien

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

Blues convert on calls they did get, take 2-1 series lead vs. Blackhawks


Penalties (and officiating in general) were a huge point of emphasis after Game 2 and early in Game 3, so it’s strangely fitting that the St. Louis Blues took the contest after converting on a huge special teams opportunity.

Patrick Kane‘s high-stick left Alex Pietrangelo bleeding, so the Blues received a four-minute power play in the third period. Jaden Schwartz converted on a pretty passing play to make it 3-2, which stood as the final score as the Blues built a 2-1 series lead.

Boiling it down to that sequence doesn’t really do justice to a Game 3 that had more twists than a M. Night Shyamalan movie.

The first period could have been disastrous for the Blues after an opening sequence that included an iffy penalty that opened the door for a 1-0 Blackhawks lead and multiple infractions right out of the gate. Instead, the Blues fought through it and nailed their first man-advantage chance when Colton Parayko boomed home a shot to make it 1-1.

The middle frame could have been disastrous as well; the Blackhawks managed a ridiculous 24 shots on goal during a second period that was brimming with end-to-end action.

Both goalies were fantastic, however, and Chicago only entered the third period with a 2-1 lead.

St. Louis kept applying pressure until Patrik Berglund‘s shot took a funky bounce and beat Corey Crawford, setting the stage for Schwartz’s go-ahead goal.

Overall, the two teams combined for a dizzying 82 shots on goal (46 for Chicago, 36 for St. Louis). It felt that way, too, as it was arguably a classic game between a pair of bitter rivals.

The Blues showed remarkable resiliency to win, beating the Blackhawks in a way they haven’t lost very often:

These two teams keep trading big blows as if this was a prize fight. We’ll get to see how Chicago rolls with this latest punch when the series resumes with Game 4 on Tuesday.

And now, your “Moment of Zen.”

It didn’t take long for Blackhawks to, um, ‘get a call’ vs. Blues


Whether it was gamesmanship or true frustration, Ken Hitchcock was talking about not getting calls after Game 2. He was left stupefied by some early whistles in Game 3.

A scrum took place between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks, yet it wasn’t an even takeaway. The Blackhawks ultimately received a power play opportunity, and they cashed in almost immediately.

It’s difficult to tell why the Blackhawks received a man advantage from that altercation, but you can judge for yourself in the video above.

This Brent Seabrook goal was something else, and certainly feeds into various storylines:

Jay Bouwmeester followed that frustration up by taking consecutive penalties: one for a “can-opener” maneuver and another for touching the puck as he left the penalty box.

Those two calls on Bouwmeester might have been accurate in a vacuum, yet they likely only made the Blues and their fans feel more frustrated.

Long story short, there’s plenty of drama early on. It will be interesting to see how this game goes after the Blues survived a trying start.

Update: Fittingly, the Blues scored a power-play goal mere moments into their first chance.

Remarkable return: Steve Ott suits up for the Blues


If the St. Louis Blues need inspiration, how about the unlikely return of a character guy?

Steve Ott is suiting up against considerable odds as the Blues take on the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3, which is mere moments from beginning.

Ott hasn’t played since Dec. 5, and there was at least some reason to wonder if he’d ever play again. Instead, he’s getting back in the mix as the Blues attempt to shake off a painful loss.

Impressive, although it’s unlikely that the Blackhawks will merely allow Ott to ease back in.

WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action


Things are really starting to heat up in the first round. Here’s how you can watch Sunday’s three Game 3 matches and one Game 2:

St. Louis at Chicago (3:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 3 will be on NBC, with Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Tampa Bay at Detroit (7:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 3 will be on CNBC, with Bob Cole, Garry Galley and Craig Simpson. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Florida at NY Islanders (8:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 3 will be on NBCSN, with Chris Cuthbert and Joe Micheletti. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Nashville at Anaheim (10:30 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBCSN, with John Forslund and Bret Hedican. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Excited yet?

Bieksa’s back for the Ducks; Boudreau calls out Perry


The Anaheim Ducks lost home-ice advantage by falling to the Nashville Predators in Game 1. They’re gaining an important defenseman back for Game 2.

Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed that Kevin Bieksa will be in the lineup on Sunday.

The rugged blueliner logged 21 minutes per game during the regular season and boasts 71 games of playoff experience on his resume.

Getting a little edgier may be the biggest gain, depending upon who you ask:

Speaking of getting more, Boudreau also called out Corey Perry‘s line before Game 2.


Perry generated an assist and five shots on goal, yet he also suffered a -2 rating in Game 1. That helper also came on the power play, which means it wasn’t the result of that line.

Spreading Anaheim’s wealth around the lineup worked during the regular season, yet you have to wonder if people will clamor for the reunion of Perry and Ryan Getzlaf if the Ducks offense sputters on Sunday.

That situation, Bieksa’s return and the increased pressure on this team gives this Game 2 plenty of sizzle.

Here’s how you can watch the action (and all of Sunday’s games).