James O'Brien

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

Video: Dubnyk’s dubious puckhandling costs Wild a big goal


Goals and wins have been tough to come by for the Minnesota Wild. They can’t just give them away.

Devan Dubnyk made a crucial mistake as the Wild attempted to grind away a tough win against the Arizona Coyotes. His giveaway began a chain of events that allowed Antoine Vermette to score the 1-1 goal late in the third period, and the two teams are currently in overtime.

You can watch that cringe-worthy clip in the video above. This post will be updated when a more robust replay is available.

Note: this was apparently Arizona’s first shorthanded goal of 2015-16.

Update: To make it burn a little more, the Coyotes won 2-1 via a shootout. Note this one if the Coyotes make the playoffs by a hair or the Wild barely miss out …

Rangers survive Sabres’ surge, rebound from being shut out


Here’s hoping you didn’t miss the third period of the Rangers’ eventual 6-3 win against the Sabres.

When Derick Brassard made it 3-1 early in the final frame, it seemed like the Rangers might sleepwalk through a win. They did win … but not before a Sabres-fueled scare.

Jack Eichel made some brilliant plays to set up two Zemgus Girgensons goals a little mroe than a minute apart, and all of a sudden, it was 3-3.

To New York’s credit, they responded to that bold push by Buffalo, as J.T. Miller scored another game-winner just a minute after Girgensons tied it up.

The margin expanded with a pretty power-play goal and an empty-netter to finish with that 6-3 margin, and now the Rangers can breathe a sigh of relief heading into the All-Star break.

While Buffalo lost – and let’s face it, maybe that’s for the best for a team in the East’s cellar – they also made a decent argument that these contests will be closer in the not-too-distant future.

Derick Brassard earned “The Broadway Hat,” and deservedly so, as he scored two goals and three assists.

Canadiens’ collapse resumes with loss to Blue Jackets


You know things are bad when a center-ice goal just provides a brief bit of joy.

The Montreal Canadiens stopped the bleeding from their troubling losing streak on Saturday, yet that shootout win only provided momentary relief.

They fell back down tonight, dropping a 5-2 loss to the banged-up Columbus Blue Jackets, who don’t even have a healthy head coach.

It’s just been that sort of stretch for Montreal. Since a 3-2 loss to the Capitals on Dec. 3, the Habs have hobbled to a 5-17-1 record.

That’s truly one of those double-take deals, as Montreal only has three wins (and has only generate seven standings points) so far in 2016.

The game was tied 2-2 heading into the third, but Columbus bounced back from that embarrassing goal. Brandon Saad scored the game-winner and added an empty-netter while dog-winner Cam Atkinson grabbed a hat trick.

In about 11 minutes, it went from a possible confidence-builder to an embarrassing night for Montreal, who will turn around and host Columbus tomorrow.

Things are so ugly, you almost wonder about Michel Therrien as the All-Star break nears … but hey, he does have the vote of confidence, right?

What’s better: Center-ice goal or dog-winning goal?


There’s a racket going on in NHL arenas lately.

1. A kid brings a “Player X, score a goal so I can have a doggie”-type sign.

2. Player scores one goal, if not more.

3. Coach and kid high five, presumably.

The question, though, is which entertains you more: a goal that lands a child a cuddly, fluffy beast or a monstrous goal from way downtown?

Tonight’s Columbus Blue Jackets – Montreal Canadiens game provides an example of both.

First, here’s P.K. Subban scoring a long-distance goal:

Then, there’s Cam Atkinson granting a puppy wish, his first tally of two (and maybe counting):

Aside: if Atkinson gets a third goal, is it a dog trick? Did he already generate a DWG (dog-winning goal)? So many questions.


Bobby Ryan innovates with the DWG

Habs’ Carr injured, won’t return to Monday’s game


Daniel Carr gave the Montreal Canadiens a shot in the arm in his return to the lineup, but that appears to be short-lived.

The Habs announced that Carr won’t return to Monday’s contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets thanks to a lower-body injury.

There isn’t video available of the moment of injury (yet?). Here’s a GIF that makes it look like it could be knee-related:

Ouch. Carr isn’t a major contributor for the Canadiens. Still, this struggling team can use all the help they can get.