James O'Brien

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

WATCH LIVE: Arizona Coyotes at Colorado Avalanche

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Patrick Roy might put the onus on Semyon Varlamov, but ultimately, these are the types of nights in which playoff-caliber teams need someone to step up.

Both the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes are currently on the outside of the West playoff picture, but Colorado has a decent shot at fighting its way back into the mix. Beating Arizona is tougher than its record may indicate, however.

Beyond the postseason implications, these teams were trade partners, so it should be interesting to see how Alex Tanguay and Mikkel Boedker fare against their former teams.

You can watch the game on NBCSN and stream it via the link below.


Jaromir Jagr moves to third all-time in points, passes Gordie Howe


There goes Jaromir Jagr, passing two NHL legends on the same Monday.

Most importantly, Jagr is now alone in third all-time in points with 1,851, breaking his brief tie with “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe.

Interestingly, Jagr did so in the 1,613th game of his illustrious career, passing Ray Bourque for ninth in NHL history in games played.

The Boston Bruins reviewed the goal, which Jagr assisted on. The tally counted, and the Florida Panthers cut down Boston’s lead to 3-1.

You can watch video of that assist above this post’s headline. There will be a league explanation added when available.

Jagr needs 36 points to tie Mark Messier for second all-time … and he needs to play until he’s 70 to pass Wayne Gretzky (at least according to Jagr).

The Florida Panthers present a cool infographic for Jagr’s achievement.

Report: Players don’t know how much money they’ll get from World Cup


It appears as though there will be some leap of faith involved with participating in the World Cup of Hockey.

At least, that’s how it seems right now, as TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports that the NHLPA isn’t yet aware how much players will make by participating in the intriguing event.

Here are some of the key details:

Even today, just six months before the puck drops in the tournament, the NHLPA has no way of knowing how much their 50-50 split will bring in. It is impossible to know. Both sides are relying on projections.

The only figure the NHLPA knows for sure is an undisclosed stipend paid to the 184 players for participation in the tournament. Neither the NHL nor the NHLPA would reveal the stipend amount on Monday, but the figure is believed to be more than the $9,500 appearance fee players receive for All-Star weekend. The stipend amount was not disclosed to the players selected to preliminary rosters last week, who will give up approximately one month of their ever-shrinking off-season.

Servalli reports that players will receive a per diem like they do during the NHL season and that semifinalists are likely to receive a bump via prize money.

Things get fuzzier when you try to do the math, as according to Servalli, it depends upon how the money is spread out.

One scenario would have participants making $68K plus stipends while other NHLPA members would receive $22K. If the entire NHLPA benefits the same way, an estimate would be $33K.

And that’s just based on current projections.

A lot remains unclear, but players at least know they’ll get a piece of the pie.

The bigger question is: would their piece be worth giving up a chunk of their off-season?

Read more here.

With defensemen Staal and McIlrath out, Rangers recall Skjei


The New York Rangers are banged up on the blueline, but they’re positioned well enough from a postseason standpoint that they can find the bright side of this situation.

To be more specific, those injuries to Marc Staal and Dylan McIlrath inspired the emergency recall of Brady Skjei, who may or may not have made progress since his last cup of coffee with the Rangers.

He hasn’t been able to score in three games with New York, last playing in February (and two December contests). Still, as a first-rounder from 2012, there’s the tantalizing proposition that Skjei could provide a boost. Perhaps even during the playoffs?

Even if Skjei ends up in a depth role, that could be a great help for the Rangers. That’s assuming that he’s made some strides this season – and that he can gain Alain Vigneault’s trust – of course.

The Rangers next play against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. We’ll see if he gets another taste of NHL action then.

Goalie nods: Lundqvist remains out, so Raanta’s in for Rangers

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The New York Rangers are preparing for a possible first-round preview against their hated rivals the New York Islanders, yet they’ll need to face them without Henrik Lundqvist.

Lundqvist’s no-good, very-bad day continues to have a negative impact on the Rangers. It sounds like his neck spasms – labeled not very serious – are at least a big enough problem to leave him day-to-day.

Antti Raanta steps in his place, and he’s going to have Jaroslav Halak at the other end of the rink.

Should be an interesting test both for the Rangers and their backup goalie.

Elsewhere …

Stars at Senators: Kari Lehtonen vs. Andrew Hammond

Penguins at Devils: Matt Murray vs. Keith Kinkaid

Red Wings at Blackhawks: Petr Mrazek and Corey Crawford

Oilers at Jets: Cam Talbot vs. Ondrej Pavelec

Blues at Wild: Jake Allen vs. possibly Devan Dubnyk