James O'Brien

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

Video: Alex Radulov’s one-handed goal was just rich


As silly as many of the Alex Radulov criticisms seem, it will be especially difficult to take any talk of being “soft” seriously after some of his ridiculous displays against the New York Rangers.

Radulov provided a truly spectacular display in Game 3, drawing worthy Peter Forsberg comparisons as he bulled through Rangers and scored a one-handed goal to put Montreal up 3-0 in an eventual 3-1 win.

(Watch in awe in the video above.)

He also made the sort of play that drew references to “witchcraft” on the play that set the table for Shea Weber‘s game-winner.

Speaking of decisive tallies, Radulov also made a great play to set up the goal that sent Game 2 to overtime and then out-willed opponents to collect the overtime game-winner in that contest.

Radulov turns 31 in July. One can understand why the Canadiens might struggle to decide what kind of term they can stomach with a player not that far removed from the KHL.

Still, the way things are going, he’ll get paid (and likely enjoy plenty of term) whether it’s with the Habs or not.

Zach Werenski shares battle scars in selfie, gains Tortorella’s (colorful) praise

via Werenski's Twitter feed

Zach Werenski‘s horrifying wound might just unseat Taylor Hall‘s grotesque injury and Logan Couture‘s damaged mouth as the grossest hockey wound in recent memory.

If nothing else, Werenski gets the edge over Hall because that wounded moment came in the playoffs.

Werenski returned briefly (following a scary, bloody moment) during the Columbus Blue Jackets’ eventual 5-4 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but couldn’t return during OT. The reason why? He basically couldn’t see out of his right eye, as NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika and others report.

Stream Penguins vs. Blue Jackets on NBC Sports

We already saw some in-game evidence of the gore when he was able to come back but Werenski himself posted evidence that it (gag) got a lot worse.

As a comparison, here’s before the swelling got out of control:

To little surprise, Werenski’s willingness to battle through the injury as much as possible gained the respect of his Columbus Blue Jackets teammates:

To even less surprise, John Tortorella provided the money quote:

Oh, Torts. Never change. (Note: he might not even change the way he flatters … brave people.)

As a reminder, there’s still some debate surrounding the goal counting after Werenski was injured.

You’re unlikely to hear any quibbling about the rookie defenseman’s toughness, however … especially in the Blue Jackets’ locker room.

Jumbo Joe is good to go: Sharks get Thornton back for Game 3

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The San Jose Sharks managed to split the first two games in Edmonton, but there’s no doubt that they’re elated to have Joe Thornton back for Game 3 against the Oilers.

“Jumbo Joe” has been sidelined since April 2 with a knee/lower-body issue. He’s back tonight as the series shifts to the Shark Tank for a pivotal contest.

Interestingly, the Sharks are placing Thornton back into the lineup in place of speedy (but hot-and-cold) winger Mikkel Boedker.

So, the Sharks get bigger, more bearded and more experienced … though the speed disparity, at times, could be quite glaring when a (possibly hobbled) Thornton is out there with Connor McDavid.

Stream Sharks vs. Oilers on NBC Sports

The Oilers have good injury news of their own, too, as Oscar Klefbom is good to go.

Canadiens smother Rangers at MSG, take 2-1 series lead


Here’s an uncomfortable refrain for New York Rangers fans: Henrik Lundqvist can only do so much.

After he shut out the Canadiens in Montreal for a 3-1 win in Game 1, the Habs have been asserting their dominance in the last two contests, taking a 2-1 series lead.

Sunday likely stands as the most emphatic showing of Montreal’s power of this first-round series. Carey Price didn’t need to deal with much, making 20 saves. He was unable to shut out the Rangers in Game 3, with a spoiler goal coming with about three minutes remaining in the third, but most of his night was pretty light.

Artturi Lehkonen‘s power-play goal began the scoring, while Alex Radulov‘s heroics really put things away. He provided a fantastic effort in making the initial play before Alex Galchenyuk set up a Shea Weber power-play marker, which would become the game-winner:

Those who gaped in awe at that display enjoyed a comparable showing of will and skill, as Radulov drew (reasonable) Peter Forsberg comparisons as he bulled his way to this 3-0 goal:


The Rangers need to get things together at Madison Square Garden if they hope to stick with the Habs. They’ve now lost six straight postseason games at home.

Werenski couldn’t see out of eye in OT; debate about that goal continues


You probably won’t find a consensus between Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets fans on the goal that came while Zach Werenski was writing in pain on the ice (and, it turns out, bleeding).

There’s little arguing that 1) it caused a nasty wound, 2) Werenski is tough for coming back soon after and 3) he likely won’t ever forget this night, considering that Game 3 also included the first postseason tally of his promising young career.

So, yeah, if you want another example of “hockey tough,” here you go:

Now, about that goal … well, the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline unearthed an interesting no-comment in that regard.

The Penguins and Blue Jackets are both in overtime. One would imagine that the debate could get angrier if Pittsburgh manages a win.

More on that goal here.

Update: Werenski might not be OK overall, however, as he hasn’t played in overtime. PHT will keep an eye on his status as the game goes on (and failing that, in the next few days).

And more after the loss: