James O'Brien

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

Video: Quick’s save survives review; McDavid tricks Lecavalier


The Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings aren’t fighting for the same things this season, but for all of the Oil’s struggles, it’s tempting to picture these teams squaring off with a lot on the line.

More precisely, we want to see battles like Connor McDavid and the Oilers’ other young guns against Jonathan Quick.

Saturday provided some appetizers in the form of a nice save and a clever goal.

Above, you can watch Quick’s great glove stop. Below, watch as McDavid gets the best of Lecavalier, and thus Quick:

Cardiac quacks? Ducks rally from another big deficit

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The Anaheim Ducks are starting to resemble Jason Voorhees or some other villain from a slasher horror movie: just because they’re down doesn’t mean they will stay down.

Echoing a point from a post a couple days ago, it feels like a metaphor for their entire season, as they went from duds to dangerous as the months went along, even though many gave up on them after a frightening start.

Clinching their playoff berth by salvaging a “charity point” in an eventual overtime loss was enough, yet the theme continued on Saturday with their come-from-behind win against the Ottawa Senators.

At one point, the Ducks’ Twitter feed captured the spirit of frustration as the Senators bulked up a 3-0 lead:

They went into the third period down 3-0, yet they won 4-3 in overtime.

Now, while this makes for a nice narrative, it’s not exactly the norm for the Ducks or any team:

And, yes, you can take some of the starch out of this one merely by pointing to the weakness of Anaheim’s opponents. They probably shouldn’t have needed a standing eight count before engaging with the Maple Leafs and Senators … not if they’re true contenders.

Still, it’s a long season, and this is yet another example of the Ducks refusing to throw in the towel.

Panthers take bite out of Lightning, strengthen Atlantic lead


OK, we can probably officially call this a lousy weekend for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Sure, they salvaged a win from Friday’s game against the Islanders, but it cost them injuries to Nikita Kucherov and Anton Stralman, with Stralman’s fracture looking especially ominous.

Tonight was a bigger deal, and give them all the credit you want for fighting with less than a full deck, but the Florida Panthers earned a significant victory by a 5-2 margin.

The Panthers and Lightning were playing hot potato with the division lead, but at least for one night, it’s all Panthers. They now have 93 points while the Lightning have 91, and each club has seven games left in 2015-16.

To add a little extra sting, this is the last time these two teams meet in the regular season, so the Lightning might need a little help from other squads if they hope to win the Atlantic Division in the end.

While the Bolts lick their wounds, the Panthers can at least smile a bit, especially since Jaromir Jagr‘s 25th goal of 2015-16 brings about another remarkable (if highly specific) milestone.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, the Bruins were able to grind out a win against the Maple Leafs, improving their situation (whether they have any shot at the title or not).

Blanking Blues: St. Louis reels off team-record fourth straight shutout


One common Hockey Twitter meme is to write “Our goalie now” and then insert a photo of a brick wall.

In the case of the St. Louis Blues, fans might need to concoct a rotation of such photos, as that joke is increasingly relevant these days.

After Brian Elliott reeled off his third consecutive shutout, he got a breather until Tuesday, but the Blues didn’t miss a beat with Jake Allen in net. He blanked the Washington Capitals to a tune of a 4-0 win, and the two quality goaltenders set a team record tonight.

This victory leaves the Blues in a virtual tie with the Dallas Stars (who won their game on Saturday as well), although Dallas holds tiebreaker advantages.

With the Stars’ injuries and the Chicago Blackhawks’ struggles, you have to think that the Blues have a strong chance to win this battle of attrition and take the Central Division title.

At worst, they have two goalies who are playing at a remarkable level right now.

Fight videos: Hair pulling, blood, dynamite punches


This post’s alternate headline could probably be “Another day at the office for Antoine Roussel and Chris Neil.”

You can see Roussel’s work mostly after his fight with San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels in the video above. The Stars super-pest pulled Wingels hair which is a very “Roussel” thing to do.

The Stars ended up beating the Sharks 4-2.

In our other bout of note, Clayton Stoner left Neil bloodied during this fight: