James O'Brien

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

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).

No signs of Parise progress for Wild; Seguin not guaranteed for Game 3

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With Game 3 approaching, the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild are monitoring familiar situations with big-name players.

Unfortunately for the struggling Wild, it doesn’t sound like Zach Parise‘s in for Game 3, at least as far as Sunday is concerned. (The game itself is tomorrow.)

Just look at how the question of Parise’s status seemed to get answered with a thud:


It’s not the only interesting variable for the Wild. They might get some help if they play Mike Reilly after calling him up from the AHL.

Again, the Stars also have key situations to keep an eye on. Namely, it doesn’t sound like Tyler Seguin is a lock to play on Monday even after returning in Game 2:

Mattias Janmark‘s expected return doesn’t necessarily exclude Seguin from the lineup, yet it’s a possible sign of that much:

Seguin logged 15:40 in ice time in Game 2, down from his average of 19:27. Lindy Ruff & Co. may deem it sensible to ease Seguin into the action rather than throwing him in the deep end, and perhaps that will translate to resting him for a game or two.

We’ll likely have a better idea of each lineup on game day tomorrow.

Anton Stralman hopes to return if Lightning make second round


To little surprise, the Detroit Red Wings are making big changes going into Game 3. Still, with all the injury issues striking the Tampa Bay Lightning, some might want to see them make tweaks of their own.

Unfortunately for those who are impatient to see returning Bolts, it sounds like the waiting game(s) will continue.

Anton Stralman is apparently making progress, but it’s likely of the slow-and-steady variety. He’s still canceled out of this first-round series against the Red Wings; anything beyond that – if the Lightning manage to advance – is also a coin flip right now.

That’s the word from reporters including Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.

Considering how serious that leg injury is, it’s reasonable that the Lightning aren’t rushing Stralman back.

In other Lightning notes, J.T. Brown‘s injury apparently opened the door for Erik Condra to get back into the mix for Tampa Bay.

This post discusses what the Lightning are losing with Brown out of action.

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

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The Stanley Cup playoffs continue on Sunday and the NBC Sports group has you covered with extended coverage across both television and digital platforms.

Here is the full slate …

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.

Peruse some links to get you ready:

– Ken Hitchcock stirred the pot about the Blackhawks getting more calls than the Blues. Will that affect Game 3?

– Hitchcock was referencing that controversial offside goal review, which you can read about here.

– Few expected the Lightning and Red Wings to get this nasty.

– Take a look at the milestones Jaromir Jagr could potentially reach in the playoffs.

– Success has been a long-time coming for both the Panthers and Islanders.

– The Predators took Game 1 from the Ducks.

Red Wings make Game 3 tweaks, including starting Mrazek


Staring at a 2-0 deficit as their series heads back to Detroit, it’s not exactly shocking that the Red Wings are making changes for Game 3.

The most immediately apparent change will be in net as Petr Mrazek takes the reins from Jimmy Howard.

Whether you put a lot or very little blame on Howard’s shoulders, changing goalies was one of the most natural tweaks, especially since Mrazek carried the ball for most of the 2015-16 season. Howard finished the season strong to wrestle the starting job back, but now that’s in flux.

The other significant change is that the Red Wings are tweaking just about everything as far as their lines go, including splitting up Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, according to MLive.com’s Ansar Khan.

Justin Abdelkader gets a demotion, though it could make for a nice depth line:

It also looks like Brendan Smith will take Kyle Quincey‘s spot alongside Danny DeKeyser.

(Keep in mind that lines can fluctuate, especially during the playoffs.)

With home-ice advantage shifting and some pretty big lineup changes, things will look different for Detroit, yet it remains to be seen if they’ll yield the right sort of results.

Stopping the Lightning’s red-hot line would be a good place to start …