Shane O'Brien has made Alain Vigneault very angry

Obrien.jpgAnother player in the NHL is being benched, although it’s unclear
exactly what led to the Canucks deciding to sit defenseman Shane
O’Brien. Intense speculation abounds, however.

O’Brien was absent from practice on Monday, despite
being present at GM Place. Ben
Kuzma of The Province reports
that coach Alain Vigneault was not
very forthcoming about what exactly is going on.

“I’m not going to answer any questions on O’Brien today — let’s move
on,” said the Vancouver Canucks coach.

Asked if someone else in
the organization should be speaking on the issue, Vigneault was short
and curt in his response.

“I’m the guy,” stressed Vigneault.

I can only imagine the teeth-clenched, angry response from AV when pressed by reporters.

O’Brien has had his run ins in with the team before in the past,
although this could just be a case of him getting a bit angry at the
possibility of being scratched in favor of Andrew Alberts.

Or it could just be that O’Brien wasn’t exactly on time for practice.
Says Dan
Murphy of Sportsnet on Twitter:

Dont worry OB fans, there is nothing crazy or
sinister going on with the defenceman. Word is he showed up for an 11
oclock practice at 10:55

Not exactly the thing to do after being a healthy scratch for three
games. My boss always said the only good excuse for being late is —
well, nevermind. I’m sure he had a good reason.

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    Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

    Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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    Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

    Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

    Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

    Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

    We’ll start to find out tonight.

    Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


    Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

    Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

    Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

    Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

    Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

    Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

    Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

    Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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    Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

    “We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

    So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

    That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

    The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

    “My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

    That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

    Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen