Mike Gillis has emphasized size this off-season, both in the entry draft and in the free agent market. Only one of the Canucks’ draft picks this year was under six feet, the Swedish twin Pathrik Westerholm. Indeed, the GM went off the board in the 3rd round to pick the 6’5″ Alexandre Grenier and followed that up with the 6’4″ Joseph Labate in the 4th round. In free agency, Gillis signed the hulking 6’5″ Byron Bitz and sizeable 6’3″ Mark Mancari. Add in Alexander Sulzer and Steven Pinizzotto at 6’1″ and you can start to see a trend: Gillis wants the Canucks to get bigger. It’s ironic, then, that it’s the smallest summer acquisition that might have the biggest impact next season.

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With the English premier League beginning anew on Saturday Soccer Shorts takes a break from the roller coaster ride that is the Vancouver Whitecaps season to predict how the EPL league table will look at the end of the season. Using the highly sophisticated  ”Prediction Index Numbers” (PIN) I have laid out the finishing position of each club below; Manchester United Manchester [...]

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By Russell Berrisford There exists in the minds of many a soccer fan an accepted stereotype of the typical Scottish football manager; gritty and dour with a passion for the game that reveals itself in a fiery touchline and press room persona. Think of Bill Shankly, Sir Alex Ferguson or even the current Portland Timbers coach John [...]

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Today in the Every Goal series, we look at defenseman Sami Salo and his three goals. Yes, three. You may recall that Salo’s season was severely shortened by a torn achilles tendon he suffered playing floorball in the summer. (Having played floorball, I can tell you that the risk of injury is probably higher playing backgammon, but leave it to Sami Salo to find a way.)

At his age, and considering the severity of his injury, it was downright courageous of Salo to work back into playing shape instead of just calling it a career. Truth is, as frustrated as Canuck nation was with yet another freak Salo injury, he had to be even moreso. While the fans suffer the annoyance of watching Salo injure himself again and again, Salo suffers the slightly higher annoyance of feeling these frequent injuries, and the discouragement that comes with them. That Salo has an entry in this series at all is admirable.

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As the famed soccer pundit Oscar Wilde almost once said; “To lose one manager in a season may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two looks like carelessness.” Technically the new man in charge of the Whitecaps, Martin Rennie, won’t begin his tenure until 2012 but just as first impressions count in life so first seasons can [...]

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At some point in time the Blue Jays are going to have to stop feeding us the intricacies of the developmental process and actually go for it.  They can’t possibly wait until they are only one veteran short of contention—no team is that perfect—and if they do their window will close beforehand.  They have to [...]

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Like a disputed goal, hockey movies need to be reviewed. More accurate than the War Room in Toronto, more exciting than a referee’s microphone malfunction, it’s PITB’s Under Review. First up: 1986′s Youngblood, starring Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, and Cynthia Gibb. Fair warning: there will be spoilers.

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The Whitecaps 4-2 win over the Chicago Fire was laced with irony. Ironic that a team that has been the victim of individual errors all season benefited from two of them on Sunday, and ironic that the starting eleven and formation was startlingly similar to one that could have been put out by former coach [...]

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Manny Malhotra was not signed by the Canucks to provide offense, instead taking over the defensive duties of Ryan Kesler, enabling Kesler to stop doing Selke-related activities and focus on offense. This, of course, led to Kesler winning the Selke award as he scored 41 goals. Observations pointing out that this makes no sense whatsoever and that the Selke award is nearly nonsensical at this point are welcomed, but will change nothing.

Even though Malhotra started an incredible 75% of his shifts in the defensive zone, leading the NHL, he managed to finish fifth on the Canucks in fewest goals against per 60 minutes while facing the toughest competition of all Canucks forwards. Oh yeah, and he managed to score 11 goals while doing all of this. In his five previous seasons, Manny averaged 11 goals, 19 assists, and 30 points. This season, he hit those averages dead on, while playing in a far more defensive role. It was an incredibly impressive season that ended in an agonizing what-if, as the Canucks playoff run could have been a completely different story if Malhotra wasn’t struck down by an errant puck in March.

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One of the upsides of signing a player with international experience is that you are adding proven quality and experience to your squad. One of the downsides is that you can often lose them to international calls ups when you least want to. The Whitecaps will be without Mustapha Jarju for the game against the Chicago Fire [...]

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Qris Johnson is the third man in, see, because PITB is two guys, but sometimes, there’s a third guy. It’s like when you go see a band that you know is a trio and they’ve got some stranger on rhythm guitar. I mean, who’s that guy? Why isn’t he on the album cover?

Today, Qris discusses the PTOs signed by Owen Nolan and Tedd Fedoruk, the hiring of Craig MacTavish, and Ryan Kesler’s surgery.

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Between DoanFace and Roaring Crosby, photos of hockey players in the midst of celebration are almost always photoshop comedy gold. But this morning, when Houses of the Hockey’s Rick Moldovanyi brought us Screaming Chara, my first reaction wasn’t laughter — it was terror. Maybe it’s because Zdeno Chara is basically a horror movie monster already, and maybe it’s because the image of him celebrating a Stanley Cup win over my beloved Vancouver Canucks continues to haunt my nightmares. Either way, I did not find Screaming Chara funny. I found it horrifying. And now you will too.

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Today in the every goal series, we look at Kevin Bieksa, the much-maligned Canuck defender who fought off trade rumours and two seasons of spotty play to re-win the hearts of Vancouver fans.

But make no mistake: Bieksa didn’t quite return to form last season. Rather, he reinvented himself. Bieksa’s 22 points were the same amount he put up the season prior, but he flourished in a new role as a shutdown defender, playing tough minutes with Dan Hamhuis.

That said, Kevin Bieksa can still score, and what you’ll see in his six goals is a guy whose shot remains lethal, whose ability to jump into the rush is still very much in place, and who may very well be able to pick up some of the backend offense the Canucks lost when Christian Ehrhoff headed to Buffalo. Here’s every goal Kevin Bieksa scored in 2010-11.

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That’s how long it has been since a minor league call-up was as widely anticipated as Brett Lawrie’s who was called up to the big club late Thursday afternoon  This entire season the Jays organization and its fan base have been on Lawrie watch—tracking his development and scrutinizing his statistics.  It is an absolute must [...]

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If there’s any silver lining to Ryan Kesler’s injury (which may very well have cost the Canucks the Stanley Cup, so there really isn’t), it’s that an opportunity–a genuine opportunity–will finally be afforded to Cody Hodgson.

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There is probably no better team for the Whitecaps to face right now than Chicago; the Fire haven’t won in seven MLS games and sit level on points with Toronto at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. They have an interim coach and, although they had much of the ball against Philadelphia on Wednesday, [...]

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Did you know that Sami Salo eats gloves? Yeah. He totally does. It’s a nerves thing. Don’t believe me? I have proof. Here’s a photo of Sami Salo in which, if I’m reading his facial expression correctly, he finds his gloves tantalizingly delicious-looking. They call to him. “Put me in your belly,” they say, and he is powerless to resist their call. I heard that, sometimes, at Christmas parties, Sami Salo steals into the coatroom, and when he comes back, there are bits of yarn in his teeth.

I’m not really sure there’s any other explanation for this photo, which I find exceedingly odd. Unless, maybe, he thinks his gloves are fondant-lidded sprinkle-sided vanilla lemon cakes? That’s a common mistake, right?

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The Canucks announced today that Ryan Kesler underwent successful surgery to repair a labral tear that he suffered during game five of the Western Conference Final. You probably remember exactly what happened. Racing Dan Boyle for a puck, the entire lower half of Kesler’s torso exploded and his leg fell off. Then, he went to the dressing room, fashioned a new leg out of hockey sticks and tape, and returned, only to score the game-tying goal with thirteen seconds to go. Or at least that’s how fathers everywhere explained it to their kids.

Anyhow. Kesler’s recovery time is 10-12 weeks, meaning the Canucks will be without his services until November, at the earliest. (We’ll have more on what this means for Cody Hodgson later. But here’s a hint: his dark times may have passed. Again.) In the meantime, Kesler will have to spend a lot of time off his feet, which means he’ll have plenty of time to practice his tweeting.

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Keith Ballard had a tough first-year in Vancouver. Acquired to add depth and offensive punch to the blueline, Ballard struggled mightily in the regular season, registering a career-low 2 goals and 7 points (14 points below his previous career low). Worse, by game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, he had dropped off the depth chart entirely, as rookie Chris Tanev and a handful of too-hurt-to-play defenders were dressed instead of him. In short, Keith Ballard had a pretty sucky year.

With the loss of Christian Ehrhoff, Ballard appears to have a massive opportunity to redeem himself in 2011-12. After failing to live up to expectations, a rejuvenated Keith Ballard would be like the Canucks finding a top four defenseman in the attic. Alex Edler needs a new best friend, preferably a right-hander with a decent first pass, the ability to join the rush with the Sedins, and some hittiness. Alain Vigneault’s going to need to be convinced, but it’s not entirely impossible, especially if Ballard does the stuff he does in these clips at a rate more in keeping with his career averages. Here’s every goal Keith Ballard scored in 2010-11.

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In the olden days (a couple of years ago) teams that were out of the pennant chase would look to move their soon to be free agents at the trade deadline in order to add something for players that were leaving anyway.  But now those free agents already bring a valuable return.  Their value lies [...]

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It wasn’t often, but when Dan Hamhuis chose to join the rush, his timing was narrowly impeccable. Five of the six goals Hammy scored last season are the result of Hamhuis jumping into the play just in time to score on a rebound or receive a sudden centering pass. Pitching in whenever necessary? Sure sounds like the Community Man. Here’s every goal Dan Hamhuis scored in 2010-11.

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