Shane O'Brien trashes Canucks coach Alain Vigneault after being traded

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shaneobrien2.jpgWhile yesterday’s trade involving Vancouver and Nashville sending defenseman Shane O’Brien to the Predators may not have made waves around the league, Shane O’Brien would not go quietly away from Vancouver just yet. O’Brien, while being quizzed by reporters following the trade got a chance to open up about Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun made sure to get O’Brien’s take on things in Vancouver on his way out the door.

O’Brien, whose contract rights the Canucks retained in July with a qualifying offer of $1.6 million US, said he knew before training camp was a week old that Vigneault wasn’t going to have him on the team.

“I knew I was in trouble,” he said. “I wish I got a little fairer shake in camp. I only played three exhibition games, all on the road, and we flew the day of the game on two of them. And -no disrespect to the players we had in those games -but the three games I played we were nowhere near an NHL-calibre roster. It was the icing on the cake for my career here in Vancouver.

“Last year, I stepped up when we had some injuries and helped our team win the division, and I thought I played with a lot of heart in the playoffs. Every time there was an injury, I’d play well. And when [the injured player] came back, I’d go right back to the bottom of the barrel. It’s tough to play in this league when you know if you have a bad night, you’re going to the press box. After two years, it was still the same thing. No matter what I did, I didn’t seem to stand a chance with that guy.”

If O’Brien tooted his own horn any more here he’d be ready to be part of an orchestra. While O’Brien makes good points about how he played while the Canucks dealt with injury issues last year. O’Brien might need to look at things a little closer though. Let’s face it if you’re getting prime minutes when guys get hurt, when they return from injury you’re not likely going to get the same amount of time on the ice or even on the ice at all. That’s just how the business goes.

That said, giving him a fairer look in camp couldn’t hurt the Canucks. Of course, having a $1.6 million cap hit on a team with major cap issues didn’t help matters at all and with the defensive depth the Canucks have, he was obviously expendable. O’Brien’s ability to take bad penalties on the ice could be proof that he’s not exactly in a team-centric mindset on the ice and these statements certainly don’t point towards being in a team-centric state of mind off it either. Of course, if O’Brien flourishes in Nashville, Vigneault will certainly be hearing about it.

The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

Todd McLellan

Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

Some of the more choice quotes:

“I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

“When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

“We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”

Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov


The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

“It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

“We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

Not good.

Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.