James O'Brien

Taylor Hall, Oscar Klefbom, Leon Draisaitl, Teddy Purcell, Mark Fayne

NHL’s newest dynamic duo: Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl


Leon Draisaitl almost seems like a different player than the one who seemed out of place in the NHL during the 2014-15 season.

“The Deutschland Dangler” continued to develop white-hot chemistry with Taylor Hall on Friday night, as the two starred in a convincing 5-1 win against the New Jersey Devils.

Both players enjoyed three-point nights after Hall completed an empty-net goal sequence.

Draisaitl’s sophomore leap has been especially resounding; he has 10 points during a five-game point streak (scoring at least a goal in those four contests) and has six multi-point games so far this season.

He’s played in 10 games, folks, with 17 points overall.

This pairing has been so impressive, you could forgive some Oilers fans for forgetting that Connor McDavid is on the shelf, even temporarily. Just imagine how interesting Edmonton might be if they can pair up Draisaitl – Hall (name submission: “Kid and the Hall”) and McDavid – Nail Yakupov, with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins fitting in when appropriate?

Hey, they could even have three pairings with RNH + Jordan Eberle, if they want to be especially bold.

It’s almost as if it’s beneficial to stack high-end draft talent for years and years, eh?

Are the Leafs finally primed to ride Reimer?

James Reimer

Want a sign that the Toronto Maple Leafs are truly handing the torch to James Reimer, at least for the moment? Tonight might provide that evidence.

After another sterling Reimer performance boosted the Leafs to a 2-1 shootout win against the Carolina Hurricanes, Mike Babcock was convinced of his earlier notion to give Reimer back-to-back starts.

That’s one of those things that normally happen for workhorse-type No. 1 goalies, right?

Really, how could Toronto deny Reimer, unless tanking truly is the goal?

Look at all of these Reimer stats:

Meanwhile, fair or not, Jonathan Bernier‘s stuck at a 0-7-1 record with poor individual stats.

Will this stick even if Reimer has a hiccup? Maybe, maybe not. So far, he’s taking that decision out of Babcock’s hands.

Canadiens carve out win in Price’s return

Carey Price
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Sure, there were signs of rust here and there, but Carey Price is back.

The Montreal Canadiens are back on the winning track, too, edging the New York Islanders 5-3 after dropping a loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.

It’s the fifth straight win for Montreal against the Isles, with Price making 31 out of 34 stops. He easily cleared the bar of merely being better than Jaroslav Halak tonight, as Price’s former crease-mate was pulled after just one period.

(Price also showed some snarl, which was needed as players such as Brock Nelson tried to invade his crease.)

While Price is the obvious headliner, supporting cast members were the other big story of this one. Jeff Petry stood out, in particular, managing his first career two-goal game.

This win leaves Montreal alone atop the East, with only Dallas ahead of the Habs based on tie-breakers, as the two teams both own 32 standings points.

Bob and Blue Jackets hang tough, heat up in November


Big tests are a real pain … but they can be a blessing in disguise when you pass them with flying colors.

Let’s set the stage for Sergei Bobrovsky and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

  • Early in the game, they generate a 2-0 and then 3-0 lead.
  • The universe can’t have Columbus getting too comfortable, however, so the Blue Jackets suffer two jarring injuries to their defense.
  • With that, the Blue Jackets were down to four defensemen, with a healthy lead, against a Nashville Predators team that can score in buckets.

Sounds like a scary challenge for Bob in particular, right?

It was, at times, but he was game to the task. Remarkably, he didn’t allow a single goal as the Blue Jackets won 4-0.

As you can see from this chart from Natural Stat Trick, the Predators really poured it on as the game went on.


All of a sudden, the Blue Jackets aren’t just spoiler material. They’re now a beast that’s starting to sniff possible playoff hopes.

Just look at their work in November alone.

They’ve won six of nine games, including four of their last five. Bobrovsky’s on a four-game winning streak himself.

Yes, Columbus dug itself a big hole, but isn’t this team scarier when it’s facing longer odds?

Flames roll without Hudler (illness) on Friday

Jiri Hudler

The Calgary Flames are facing the Chicago Blackhawks without go-to veteran forward Jiri Hudler on Friday.

The team announced that he’s absent from tonight’s game because of an illness. There weren’t many details regarding his condition beyond that, including whether he’s likely to miss additional time beyond this contest.

The 31-year-old’s a solid winger for Calgary, although he has been a little quiet lately, being held to an assist in his past four games.