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

Video: Gryba throws weight around with hit, fight vs. Blackhawks


Considering the successes of the Blackhawks and failures of the Oilers, it might be challenging to drum up a potential rivalry between the two teams.

Maybe someone like Eric Gryba could really get the ball rolling by throwing his body around?

The big defenseman made an impression during Saturday’s game, delivering a big hit on Tanner Kero and then dropping the gloves with Ryan Hartman.

If the team’s listings for each player is correct, Gryba has about four inches and almost 50 lbs. on Hartman, so it’s not too shocking he held the advantage. Credit Hartman for courage and for standing up for his teammate here.

At least the Panthers want to be trade deadline buyers

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For years now, it’s been foolish to take a day off strictly for NHL trade deadline day.* It’s just about guaranteed that “people who took the day off” will be listed under trade deadline “losers.”

Just look at a few stories from around the league. The Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks essentially said they’ll sit this one out. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the Blue Jackets will probably lean more in the modest direction, too. There’s the chance that seemingly reluctant teams are merely playing coy, but there’s also the possibility that they’re trying to help fans avoid a letdown.

Well, that’s no fun. So who’s going to at least give us some fodder for baseless speculation? Message boards aren’t going to fill themselves, right?

/Cues the Florida Panthers’ theme music.

“The goal is to be buying,” Panthers GM Dale Tallon told “I like where we’re at, but I’d like to add some offense to get our power play going.”

Thank you Dale. Thank you.

Tallon even provides some specifics. He wants a boost on the power play and is willing to move prospects in the system if the deal is right.

Should we get a Panthers sweater ready for Radim Vrbata or would that be too hasty? That would probably be too hasty.

Perhaps the East’s wild card races are where to look when pondering trades. Maybe the Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders and others will be on board with paying a price in order to make the playoffs and possibly make a Cinderella playoff push?

If nothing else, it gives rumor enthusiasts something to chew on.

(H/T to Rotoworld.)

* – Now, if that’s the excuse you need to give yourself to justify a break? By all means …

Video: Did Evander Kane sneak an elbow on Ryan Reaves?


There’s no denying that there is some snarl to Evander Kane‘s game. He’s named after a boxer who tormented Mike Tyson, after all.

Still, there are weight divisions in boxing for a reason, and Kane would have been punching – some might argue, elbowing – above his weight in tangling with Ryan Reaves.

He wisely avoided doing so during the Buffalo Sabres’ eventual win against the St. Louis Blues. But did he get a way with an elbow during that exchange? See for yourself in the video above.

(Also, wouldn’t you love to hear what Dan Bylsma said to Kane? Probably something along the lines of “Smart move not fighting Reaves.” Maybe with an extra expletive for good measure.)

Brooks Orpik hammers Steve Ott in ‘Capitals fight of the year’ (Video)


The Washington Capitals fell to the Detroit Red Wings in a shootout, perpetuating the bye week narrative and seeing their hot streak end. They won at least one battle on Saturday … by a lot.

Usually, when you see two well-known players fight, it’s a fairly limited affair. That was not the case when Brooks Orpik battered Steve Ott in one of the most one-sided bouts you’ll see.

More than one Capitals onlooker called it the team’s “fight of the year.”

Ott is a well-documented hyper-pest, so it’s likely that Capitals fans weren’t the only ones who enjoyed seeing him on the receiving end of Orpik’s wrath.

Let’s rave about Rantanen


Even with a 2-1 OT win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday, the Colorado Avalanche remain easily the worst team in the NHL.

They have 34 standings point while only one team (the unevenly tanking Coyotes) is even under 50 with 47. Their -77 goal differential is worse than the next two worst team differentials combined.

Oh yeah, there’s also a strong chance that they’ll trade two of their biggest names in Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog.

Yep, times are grim … but barring him being an ill-advised add-in to a potential trade, it seems reasonably safe to assume that Mikko Rantanen is a part of this team’s future. And that’s looking like a promising thing.

Last night marked a milestone for the 20-year-old, as he scored his first career overtime game-winner, with a great assist by Duchene.

It’s the second game-winner of his season and 12th goal overall. No one’s going to confuse Rantanen with a Calder finalist like Auston Matthews, but he’s shown serious flashes of brilliance on a team whose visions have been overwhelmingly dismal.

So, Avalanche fans who need to think happy thoughts have an obvious place to go to.

As long as Joe Sakic doesn’t do something silly.