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

Henrik Lundqvist eventually returns after being clobbered by Cody Eakin


Just when Henrik Lundqvist thought it was safe to return to the New York Rangers’ net, this happens.

Lundqvist left tonight’s game against the Dallas Stars (at least for the moment) after a huge hit by Dallas Stars forward Cody Eakin. Eakin received a game misconduct and major penalty for the, frankly, quite puzzling hit.

Video will be added momentarily. In the mean time, draw your jaw in awe at the audacious hit via this GIF:

Wow. Don’t be shocked if this seemingly bloodless rivalry gets a little nasty on Thursday.

Update: Rangers fans can breathe easier, as Lundqvist returned during the same period and made some nice saves.

Naturally, if he has a setback, it will be noted, but that’s a promising sign.

Lundqvist gained a significant measure of revenge by not just returning, but blanking the Stars in a 2-0 win for the Rangers.

Raising Arizona: Auston Matthews scores vs. Coyotes (Video)

This is pretty cool stuff even for those normally jaded by “narratives.” Auston Matthews scored the 1-0 goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight against the team he grew up cheering for in the Arizona Coyotes.

(You may have heard about his upbringing and how it trumpets “non-traditional hockey” about a million times during the height of Matthews as No. 1 pick talk.)

Bonus points to Matthews for scoring a very nice goal, to boot. He now has 14 goals during his impressive rookie season.

Peter Holland ultimately stole the show by helping the Coyotes win via a shootout goal, though. More on that here.

Mike Hoffman will have hearing for cross-checking Logan Couture


The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that Ottawa Senators winger Mike Hoffman will face a hearing for his cross-check on San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture from Wednesday night.

While the league didn’t specify in its official announcement, it will be a telephone hearing for Hoffman, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie. (An in-person hearing would imply that a heavier punishment might be likely.)

It likely helps Hoffman’s cause that he’s never been suspended by the NHL.

Plenty of fans, especially those of the Senators, are unhappy that Hoffman might face supplemental discipline while Marc-Edouard Vlasic may not for his spear on Erik Karlsson (which Karlsson called a “pitchfork to the face”).

There’s some hate brewing between these teams, but they won’t meet again in the regular season.

Messier hopes to be there when Jagr passes him for No. 2 in all-time scoring


After Thursday’s game, Jaromir Jagr needs three points to tie Mark Messier for second all-time on the NHL scoring list, and four to stand alone behind Wayne Gretzky.

It almost seems customary for a record-holder or high-ranking player to handle such situations with humility, at least in hockey. And Messier is no different.

“No question I’d like to be there in person if possible,” Messier said, according to “I don’t know if it’s going to be possible or not, but I certainly will be reaching out to Jaromir and congratulating him when he does move into second place overall.”

He notes that he never saw himself as a top scorer along the lines of Gretzky or Mario Lemieux, and also points to one of hockey’s better “What if” scenarios: where would Jagr rank if he didn’t spend all that time overseas?

Regardless, Messier is impressed by how strong Jagr is on the puck even to this day.

As far as Jagr’s teammates go, they’re taking the “don’t make eye contact with the guy who could pitch a perfect game” approach.

“We don’t really talk about that here, but I think everybody knows that he’s pretty close,” Aleksander Barkov said. ” … It’s amazing”

Yep, that might be the way to go.

Update: Jagr got an assist in Florida’s shootout loss to the Jets.

Chris Tanev could return for Canucks as soon as Friday


The Vancouver Canucks are probably aching for good news at this point, especially after that 8-6 meltdown against the Carolina Hurricanes. If that good news isn’t already here, it seems to be on its way.

Defenseman Chris Tanev could be back in the Canucks’ lineup as soon as Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, according to the team.

Tanev isn’t a big name along the same lines as the Sedin twins, but Jonathan Willis argued that he’s the Canucks most important player in this Sportsnet piece.

Whether he’s the top guy or one of the top guys, there’s no denying that he’s up there and that he’s been missed. Tanev hasn’t played since Nov. 2.

While many people – reasonably – believe that the Canucks are probably better off going into full-fledged tank mode, this is actually a pretty good opportunity for them to save face. Take a look at their upcoming schedule:

Friday: vs. Lightning
Sunday: vs. Blue Jackets
Dec. 20 and 22: vs. Jets
Dec. 23: at Flames
Dec. 28: vs. Kings
Dec. 30: vs. Ducks
Dec. 31: at Oilers
Jan. 2: vs. Avalanche
Jan. 4: vs. Coyotes
Jan. 6: vs. Flames

Now, it’s foolish to suggest that the Canucks will go on a tear. On paper, just about all of those teams are better than Vancouver.

Still, that IS four home games in a row and just two away contests during a 11-game span. Tanev could help them save face (but maybe hurt their lottery odds) during a run like this.