James O'Brien

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

Chris Neil’s leaping check is quite the sight


You don’t see hits like these everyday … thankfully.

Ottawa Senators tough guy Chris Neil received a two-minute charging minor for the leaping hit (see above) on New Jersey Devils forward Sergey Kalinin.

From the look of things, Neil might have gotten the worst of that blow, and it could have been even worse if he landed differently.

We’ve seen Brad Marchand go very low during a recent hit, so Neil opted for the opposite.

Update: Backstrom’s injury may be minor, Beagle could need surgery

1 Comment

The expectation was that tonight’s Buffalo Sabres – Washington Capitals game would be physical. That’s certainly been the case, to the point where the game may also be costly.

So far, the biggest loss might be that of Nicklas Backstrom, who’s questionable to return because of an upper-body injury.

There are other bumps and bruises, as Tyler Ennis won’t return and Jay Beagle will not either, both dealing with upper-body ailments. (You can see the Alex Ovechkin hit that sidelined Ennis in the video above.)

Tom Wilson may have been a little beaten up, although he did manage to return during the game.

Some of these issues may be cropping up because of the intensity surrounding this contest, but others may just be a matter of coincidence.

Regardless, the Sabres and Capitals may limp into 2016 at this pace.

Note: It’s not sheer ugliness, though, as Alex Ovechkin and Jack Eichel have been putting on a show at times. Check out this Eichel setup:

Update: While Backstrom may play as soon as Thursday, Beagle may require surgery.

John Carlson didn’t play tonight, and he may not play again for some time.

Washington managed a ninth consecutive win, but the way injuries are stacking up, their could be some challenges ahead.

Video: Letang takes another big hit, some vintage Crosby


Even relatively good nights for the Pittsburgh Penguins often tend to mix a little bad in with the good.

As you can see above, there was a scare in Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, as Leo Komarov delivered a scary hit on frequently injured defenseman Kris Letang.

Early indications are that Letang is OK, but we’ve seen plenty of players see negative effects later on, Letang included.

It’s not all gloomy for Pens fans tonight, though, as we’ve also seen some “vintage” Sidney Crosby. He scored a nice goal, but it’s his assist on a Chris Kunitz power-play tally that really screamed No. 87 at his best:

As of this writing, the good with the bad extends to the score: a 2-2 tie.

Update: The Maple Leafs ended up winning 3-2 via a shootout.

Stars put Hemsky on IR, recall Faksa


The impressive Dallas Stars attack will be short a supporting cast member for at least a week after placing Ales Hemsky (pictured) on IR today.

The team explains that a Fedor Tyutin shot hit Hemsky’s foot during Tuesday’s win by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Hemsky’s loss could be Radek Faksa’s gain, as the young forward was recalled in exchange. He generated some positive word-of-mouth from management during his first appearances of the 2015-16 season, but Faksa didn’t set the world on fire either, so this is a chance to show progress.

Considering Hemsky’s history of poor injury luck, there’s a chance this could be a pretty solid opportunity for Faksa.

No Winter Classic for Marchand, who gets three-game suspension


The 2016 Winter Classic will be a little less pugnacious without Brad Marchand suiting up against the Montreal Canadiens.

The pesky Boston Bruins forward was handed a three-game suspension for his low, “clipping” hit on Ottawa Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki.

Marchand already shared his take on the hit, so it’s unlikely that he agrees with the league’s decision.

“It was a simple play,” said Marchand, as per the Ottawa Sun. “I was trying to get to the puck carrier and I turned up ice and he was kind of standing there. I just turned up and tried to go after the puck carrier.”

In case you’re wondering about a possible appeal …

It’s not the first time Marchand faced supplemental discipline for this general type of hit; he was suspended five games for clipping Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo back in 2012.

He’s not just a repeat offender. Marchand is a repeat offender when it comes to questionable low hits, as the video explanation notes.

Borowiecki’s return to the game may have reduced Marchand’s punishment.

A few quick reactions: