Spitballin’ on Vey’s first goal, Kassian’s ordeal, and schedule purgatory

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.

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Stick in Link: Everyone loves the Canucks again and everything is perfect

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Tuesday and Thursday. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at passittobulis@gmail.com, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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‘I’m Daniel’, and other great moments in misidentifying Canucks

It’s every sports media member’s nightmare: you go to talk to a player, perhaps about the game he just played, and after a couple of awkward questions, he has to tell you that you have him confused with someone else.

Incredibly, it doesn’t happen very often, even in Vancouver, which is saying something since the Canucks have two guys who look literally identical to one another and, as teammates and coaches will tell you, remain difficult to differentiate even after years of seeing them every day.

How has it been so long since the last mistake? Maybe because they can get a little intense when you get it wrong, as poor Joey Kenward did after Saturday’s 5-4 shootout win over the Oilers.

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The Paper Feature: Ten gimmicky fan acts that could replace The Green Men

It’s hockey season once again, that beautiful time of year when we reverse our metamorphosis into social butterflies and return to our hockey cocoon, or hockoon. Ah, hockey season. What a time. If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of a sports journalist clacking out the lede “the boys are back in town” on his laptop.

It’s true, though. The boys are back in town, save for Jannik Hansen, who never left. I saw him leaving a Safeway parking lot in August. That’s right. Jannik Hansen shops at Safeway, and it’s a commendable choice. Their store-brand orange juice has just the right amount of pulp.

But it’s not just the players who are returning. The fans, too, are coming back around, albeit not in the droves they have in years past. That’s going to take some time. With a riot, a lockout, two first round exits and the short-lived John Tortorella era darkening their experience over the last four years, many are, understandably, keeping the team at arm’s length for the moment.

This has been the story for much of the offseason, with fans way, way down the season ticket waiting list getting calls, and the Canucks admitting they haven’t sold as many packages as they’d like. But let’s not dwell on that. Our concern here today isn’t the status of every fan. We’re thinking of two in particular: the Green Men, Force and Sully.

Are they thinking of retiring the fluorescent green zentai suits? The duo won’t be at the home opener, and now that they’ve got a shiny new radio program Saturday nights on TSN 1410, one wonders if their schtick is slowly going to be phased out. And if so, who will replace them as Vancouver’s bizarre and notable fans du jour? Here are a handful of suggestions:

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Breakdowning Henrik Sedin’s highlight-reel empty-netter

It’s probably too early to say Henrik and Daniel Sedin are back, since one game does not a season make, especially one game against the cellar-bound Calgary Flames, but there were moments in the 4-2 win where it was perfectly clear that they’re determined to get back. One such moment: Henrik Sedin’s empty-netter to seal the victory. If this is the effort level we can expect to see from Henrik this season, one suspects his line will be a touch more effective than they were last year.

This goal was the result of more than just effort, however. Henrik tried very hard, no doubt, but you also need to have an incredible skillset, not to mention a remarkable head for the game to pull this off. Let’s take a closer look at the scoring play:

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Stick in Link: Sbisa gets it; free beer for everyone

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Tuesday and Thursday. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at passittobulis@gmail.com, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 4, Flames 2

It’s difficult to know how excited to get about Wednesday night’s season-opening win for the Canucks over the Flames. On the one hand, it’s been so long since we’ve seen the Canucks play a meaningful game at all, let alone win one this way, scoring powerplay goals, getting game-breaking offence from the Sedins, deploying the infuriating and effective Alex Burrows, and holding onto leads — it was all very satisfying. But is it sustainable, or is this just the sort of thing that happens when you get to open the season versus the Calgary Flames, as opposed to, say, an angry, vengeful San Jose Sharks team?

I mean, have you looked at the Flames’ lineup? Paul Romanuk called this game, rather than John Shorthouse, because Sportsnet was looking to show off their fancy new NHL broadcasting rights and the toys and personnel it allowed them to acquire, and while the new voice felt a bit strange, it made a great deal of sense. After all, Romanuk’s main gig of late has been calling the Spengler Cup, that tournament that features the best Canadian players who aren’t good enough to stick in the NHL, and the Flames employ a lot of guys he needs to be familiar with in a year or two.

Like Paul Romanuk brushing up for Davos, I watched this game.

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Seven guys who weren’t on the Canucks last year

The Vancouver Canucks promised change this offseason, and true to their word, the 2014-15 roster features a bevy of new faces. A quick glance at the announced opening-day roster yields a number of unfamiliar names.

That in mind, here are seven guys who weren’t on the Canucks last year.

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Pass it to Bulis presents: ‘Holding Out For Bonino’ [VIDEO]

Before Jim Benning could even start building the great wall o’ players in his office, he had to deal with Ryan Kesler, whose agent Kurt Overhardt began from day one to demand the new Canucks GM do what the old Canucks GM couldn’t or wouldn’t, and make a trade. Then, perhaps to ensure that the team Kesler was joining wouldn’t be gutted in the transaction, the list of teams for whom Kesler would waive his no-trade clause was whittled down to two.

Benning made the trade anyway, sending Kesler to Anaheim in a deal that centered (pun!) around Nick Bonino. Some said Benning merely settled for Bonino. But what if Bonino is who he wanted all along? Come with us as we explore this theory through song, borrowing from the epic melodies of Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For a Hero”.

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Get pumped for the season with amazing videos from Samir Javer, Clay Imoo

On Wednesday night, Vancouver fans get to enjoy something they’ve not enjoyed in since last spring, or maybe even further back, depending on when last year became unbearable for you: a regular-season Canucks game, as the Sedins and company kick off the 2014-15 campaign in Calgary versus the Flames.

Just one more sleep. But fret not. While today is bound to feel almost as long and unbearable as the John Tortorella era, two of Canuck Nation’s best Youtubers, Samir Javer and Clay Imoo, have dropped new videos to help tide us over.

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The 2014-15 Canucks: a super-optimistic season preview

It was hardly a banner year for the 2013-14 Canucks, and that’s saying something, because we’ve grown accustomed to banners in this city. Two Presidents’ Trophy banners. Five Northwest Division title banners. The last year the Canucks didn’t win something, even if only in their sandbox, was 2007-08. And wouldn’t you know it, that was also the last time the Canucks failed to make the playoffs. Is there a correlation? I dare suggest there is. The secret, my friends, is banners. Is it any wonder that the Canucks’ first losing season in six coincided with the year they decided to consolidate their five Northwest Division banners into one? You take down the banners, my friends, and the banners will take you down.

2013-14 was a dismal campaign, and it came at a cost. The official slogan, “We Are All Canucks”, was struck, in favour of “Change is Coming”. And the change did come. President and General Manager Mike Gillis was dismissed, as was coach John Tortorella. In their stead came Trevor Linden (president), Jim Benning (GM), and Willie Desjardins (coach).

On the ice, there were personnel changes as well. Of the 33 players that played a game for the Canucks last season, 13 are no longer in the organization, with leading goal-scorer Ryan Kesler the most notable departure.

But how will these changes affect the team’s performance? Splendidly, I say. This season is going to rule.

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Camp Cuts: Nicklas Jensen to Utica, as Tom Sestito lives to fight another day

Nicklas Jensen is the latest impressive young forward to fall victim to his lack of waiver eligibility, as the Canucks sent the big winger to the Utica Comets in their bid to get down to the 23-man roster limit. I think I speak for everyone, save Tom Sestito, when I say, well, shoot. The move [...]

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I Watched This Pre-Season Game: Canucks vs Edmonton Oilers, October 4, 2014

It’s tradition in Vancouver to complain about the NHL schedule. Doesn’t matter that our beef is actually with the Atlantic Ocean, whose East Coast Bias runs deeper than any NHL schedulemaker. The transatlantic-migration-and-its-effect-on-population-density argument doesn’t really fly over here. It’s clear the NHL is out to screw us.

But if we’re going to complain about the negatives of the schedule, we should also praise the positives, like how the Canucks got to close their preseason with two games versus the defensively hapless Edmonton Oilers. There’s really no better way to go into the regular season, especially for a team that lost their offensive mojo last season, than by playing the Oilers, who make every NHL team feel like, well, the 1980s Edmonton Oilers. Honestly, playing these Oilers fills you with such a confidence, one wonders if they’re even a real team. Is it possible the Oilers have been inside you all along?

Maybe. But I’m pretty confident they’re real, since they played in this game and I watched this game.

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Canucks would be wise to pursue Blackhawks’ Leddy, Bruins’ Boychuk (Update: nevermind)

True fact: If you’re over the cap to start the NHL season, the angel of death sweeps through your house and takes your firstborn. It’s the worst.

That in mind, the Chicago Blackhawks have some work to do. Like many teams, The Blackhawks were banking on a $71 million dollar cap heading into the 2014-15 campaign. It didn’t happen. Instead, either because the gods are cruel or because they’re immature children, the cap landed at $69 million. Now Chicago has to shed some payroll before the season gets underway — a little over $2 million, or about the cost of one Nick Leddy.

And wouldn’t you know it, Leddy’s on the block. Same goes, perhaps, for Johnny Boychuck in Boston.

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Canucks of the Week, starring kids, overeager fans, and the boss

Canucks of the Week, written by Kevin Vanstone, examines who and what is keeping hockey in Vancouver interesting these days. That’s right: who and what. It need not only be players. After all, we are all Canucks. All people, places, things, abstract concepts, ideas, emotions — if it’s a noun, proper or common, it’s a Canuck, and it’s eligible to be a Canuck of the week.

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Camp Cuts: Canucks assign Hunter Shinkaruk to Utica, waive Cal O’Reilly

Hunter Shinkaruk’s bid to make the Canucks’ opening-night roster has come up short, as the smallish forward has been dispatched to Utica. The Canucks announced the move Friday, sending Shinkaruk to the Comets in a move that cuts their training camp roster to 26 with only a few days to trim three more names.

Shinkaruk made the decision tough for the team, but in the end, it’s not surprising. The writing’s been on the wall for him for a while. He was great at the YoungStars tournament, and he was excellent at the beginning of training camp, but as he’s settled in over his past few outings, he’s begun to disappear. You’d think he went back in time and stopped his Mom from falling in love with his Dad.

On Thursday night, he was nigh invisible, with just one shot in 10:50 of icetime. He played like he’d already been sent down, which all but guaranteed that he would be.

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Do the Canucks have other reasons for keeping Zack Kassian away from the Oilers?

Zack Kassian won’t play Thursday night in Edmonton, as he continues to recover from some sort of minor ailment that’s also caused him to miss practice this week. On Thursday afternoon, The Vancouver Sun’s Elliott Pap asked him if this would affect his preparation for the season.

“It couldn’t get any worse than last year,” Kassian said. “Last year, it was an 8-game suspension.”

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Stick in Link: Rediscovering Alex Edler; Canucks’ new coverage plan

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Tuesday and Thursday. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at passittobulis@gmail.com, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Linden Vey, Bo Horvat could provide Canucks much-needed depth chart pressure

Not that there was ever any real doubt, but I think we can now say for certain that Linden Vey will be on the Canucks’ opening-night roster, as the Canuck forward showed up for practice on Wednesday having doffed his preseason no. 44 for no. seven, one of those fancy, low integers reserved for the regulars.

It makes sense. Vey is making this team, and he’s never really seemed to be in the same class as the other kids looking to play their way onto the roster. No one ever really refers to Vey in the same breath as Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk or Nicklas Jensen, even though he’s only got about a month more NHL experience than they do. But furthermore, 44 to 7 is only logical, since Vey is certainly far more Brendan Morrison than he is Todd Bertuzzi. Heck, he and Morrison have the same measurements, at 5’11″, 176 lbs each.

Vey’s an interesting case. In Los Angeles, he was so far down the depth chart the Kings were willing to let him go for a second-rounder. In Vancouver, he’s being auditioned as a second-liner, or at least that’s the word from Wednesday’s practice, where Vey’s new number isn’t quite as big a deal as his new linemates. From the looks of it, he’ll play Thursday with Nick Bonino and Alex Burrows. Vey is the right-winger, and Bonino is the centre.

At least for now. If I’m Nick Bonino, Linden Vey’s second-line tryout worries me.

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The 3rd annual Canucks headshot awards, starring Peter Andersson and his creepy blue eyes

A lot of people grumble about the preseason, but here at Pass it to Bulis, it excites us, for several reasons. It’s hockey, for one thing. It may not be the best hockey, but I’d still rather watch preseason hockey than no hockey at all. Furthermore, while the games may not mean anything, points-wise, they sure mean something for the prospects, who are trying to play their way onto the team. Those battles are fun, especially this year, since the Canucks actually have a few guys knocking on the door.

But the best thing about the preseason isn’t the games, nor is it the battles: it’s the headshots. With all an organization’s players and prospects gathered in one place at the start of training camp, the team sends each one of them down to the photographer for his official NHL portrait.

As we said two years ago, picture day always leads to unintentional comedy. Most of the guys would rather be anywhere else. Very few actually prepare for it. And, best of all, they’re given no direction as to what they’re supposed to be doing. Some smile. Some glower. Some just stare vacantly ahead. It’s a good time.

And so, without any further ado, we present PITB’s third annual Canucks headshot awards.

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Stick in Link: The Miller’s tale; here come the season previews

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Tuesday and Thursday. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at passittobulis@gmail.com, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Camp Cuts: Canucks waive six more, preseason roster down to 28

As we reported when it happened, the Canucks made another round of cuts after their win over the Flames on Friday night, announcing that they had reduced their preseason roster by 11 players. But the truth is that they actually reduced the roster by 17 players — it’s just that six of them required waivers.

And, in an effort to prevent other teams from stealing their players (much like they did last year in snatching up Ryan Stanton from the Chicago Blackhawks), the Canucks opted not to mention the half dozen players momentarily unattended. (It’s amusing to think that other teams would simply fail to notice that a player they wanted was on waivers, but I’m sure it’s happened many times in the past, and the Canucks would prefer that it happens again here.)

Unfortunately, the eagle-eyed Renaud Lavoie spotted the moves, and tweeted them out like a total snitch. Johnny Tightlips he ain’t. According to Lavoie, Bobby Sanguinetti, Alex Biega, Peter Andersson, Dustin Jeffrey, Brandon Defazio, and Darren Archibald are all presently on waivers, as the Canucks attempt to shuttle them down to Utica.

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I Watched This Pre-Season Game: Canucks vs Calgary Flames, September 26, 2014

One night after playing the Calgary Flames, the Canucks played the Calgary Flames. We may be trapped in some sort of Groundhog Day scenario. And considering they won both times, my main concern is that they’ll be playing the Calgary Flames again tomorrow night. If so, pray they lose, otherwise we’ll be back here again on Sunday.

Although there are worse things than watching the Canucks beat the Flames night after night, especially when they’re doing it with — get this — a lethal powerplay. Since when do they have that? Seriously, I know they call it the man advantage, but this was the first night in ages that being allowed to have one more guy on the ice actually seemed like an advantage. I was pleasantly surprised when I watched this game.

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Camp Cuts: Canucks send Brendan Gaunce and a bunch of other guys to Utica

Soon, very soon, the Canucks will begin playing games for points. Games that mean something. Games where you’re not allowed to have 30 to 40 guys on your roster. Which means that soon, they’ll have to make some very difficult decisions as they try to pare that group down to the league maximum of 23.

But first, some easy decisions. Immediately following their 3-0 win over the Calgary Flames, the Canucks announced the trimming of their preseason roster by 11 more players.

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Camp Cuts: Markstrom on waivers, as Canucks give up on goalie triad; Virtanen sent home

Seven days ago, right here on this very blog, we reacted to a report that the Canucks were considering starting the season with three goaltenders. You probably remember this post especially well, since our website’s been glitching up ever since and hiding all the stuff we wrote after it. (It’s a cache issue, by the way — we’ve been told it’s been fixed.)

Anyway. Turns out the post our glitchy server’s been foisting on you for a week straight is not only annoying — it’s obsolete, unless Joacim Eriksson is the surprise third wheel. The organization has decided to chance sending Jacob Markstrom through waivers after all, making the bid to send him to Utica on Friday morning. (Also on waivers: Sestito. The one named Tim.)

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