Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few quick topics.
Bo Horvat already has an animal nickname
Bo Horvat’s superb season with the London Knights has Canucks fans excited to see him in the NHL as soon as possible. He has 44 points in 28 games with the London Knights and is looking to play a major role with Team Canada at the World Junior Championship starting on Boxing Day.
One question to ask is just how will Horvat fit with the rest of the team? Will he be ready to take on the position of a defensive third line centre playing against tough competition at the age of 19? Will he have good chemistry with his teammates? What about off the ice: is there any reason to be concerned about Horvat?
I’m not the least bit concerned: he should fit in just fine with the Canucks. After all, he already has an animal nickname.
Longtime Bulies will be very familiar with the Canucks’ animal nicknames. We first heard about them back in November 2011, when we found out that David Booth is “Grizzly,” Keith Ballard was “Wolf,” Ryan Kesler is “Bull,” and Alex Edler is “Eagle.” We also figured out that Jannik Hansen is “Honey Badger,” so we took to calling him “Honninggrævling.”
Since then, we’ve gradually deciphered a few more animal nicknames as well as that David Booth isn’t allowed to give them out as he isn’t on the official council. That is not a joke.
When Horvat makes the Canucks, his new teammates won’t need to give him a new animal nickname, as his old teammates with the Knights will have already given him one. He is apparently known as “Ox,” thanks to his coach-GM, Mark Hunter, saying he was “strong as an ox.” The name stuck.
As you can tell, I’m pretty excited about this.
Hunter Shinkaruk cut from Team Canada
While Bo “The Ox” Horvat is a lock for Team Canada, the Canucks won’t have two prospects at the World Junior Tournament, as Hunter Shinkaruk was cut Friday. Before the start of the season, it seemed certain that Shinkaruk would be on the roster, thanks to 86 goals and 177 points over 130 games in the last two seasons.
Unfortunately, a hip injury early has limited both his games played and his effectiveness, as he has just 16 points in 18 games this season. While he has insisted that he’s back to 100%, other players have gotten off to hotter starts this season, costing him his spot on the roster.
His position doesn’t help either. Shinkaruk is essentially a natural winger, though he’s played at centre from time to time, and Team Canada coach Brent Sutter tends to prefer repositioned centres on the wings. A stronger, healthier start for Shinkaruk would have made it impossible to cut him from the team, but a sub-point-per-game start sunk him.
Not helping matters is that Anthony Mantha, who leads the QMJHL in scoring with 35 goals and 73 points in 32 games, outplayed Shinkaruk in camp, according to Corey Pronman:
Anthony Mantha (DET) beat out Hunter Shinkaruk (VAN) in a battle for a spot on Canada, as the latter was cut. Mantha didn’t do a ton early on, but later in the game showed the speed and offensive creativity that makes him pretty desirable as a prospect for a big man. Shinkaruk has not looked himself since a hip injury in October for the last few weeks and this cut almost seemed inevitable.
This has to be a massive disappointment to Shinkaruk, who was a late cut from last year’s World Junior team. This was his last opportunity to play for Team Canada in the tournament.
Roberto Luongo tweets during a game
John Tortorella has never been a fan of Twitter, apart from the time his daughter started one in his name to tweet pictures of dogs available for adoption. He made it very clear after he was hired that he didn’t think his players should be on the social media platform or should, at the very least, avoid tweeting any details about the team.
The NHL as a whole has an official policy specifying no tweeting on game days, starting two hours prior to puck drop until after post-game interviews with the media have been completed.
It should go without saying that tweeting during a game is expressly forbidden. On Thursday night, during the game against the Dallas Stars, Roberto Luongo accidentally broke that rule in a pretty embarrassing fashion:
Oh dear. Social Valuator is an app that checks the “value” of your Twitter account, then automatically tweets that value for you. Here’s the thing: it doesn’t just tweet it once. This isn’t the first tweet from that app on Luongo’s account, with the first one coming on Wednesday. Both tweets have been deleted, but this screenshot was grabbed by @timmyfin.
The best thing to come out of this, however, is this tweet from Zack Kassian in reply to the original Social Valuator tweet from @strombone1:
— zack kassian (@zkassian9) December 19, 2013
#ballin #classy #fresh, indeed.
Mid-season update from Mike Gillis
Joey Kenward interviewed Mike Gillis for this little mid-season update. Overall, there isn’t much new information from Gillis, but some latched onto his comments near the end about the Canucks’ prospects.
Gillis mentions Horvat, Shinkaruk, Cassels, Hutton, McNally, and Corrado when asked about prospects, saying they are all playing well. He also talks about Nicklas Jensen and his progress with the Utica Comets, which has been slow. There’s one notable name absent from that list: Brendan Gaunce.
Gaunce has had a solid season for the Belleville Bulls and Erie Otters, with 37 points in 32 games, which is a step up from past production, but his performance during the Young Stars tournament and in the pre-season for the Canucks wasn’t particularly eye-catching as compared to Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk. With that said, while Horvat might have passed Gaunce on the depth chart, he’s still a good prospect with plenty of potential.
Honestly, it’s probably not worth reading too much into Gillis leaving Gaunce out, as he doesn’t go into any detail about any of the prospects he mentions and leaves out the likes of Jordan Subban and Alexandre Grenier, who are also having strong seasons. If this was an interview about the state of the prospect pool, then there might be something about which to get concerned.Tags: canuck animals, Honninggrævling, Hunter Shinkaruk, spitballin, strombone1