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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Camp Cuts: Canucks send eight players to Utica

Less than 24 hours after returning three more players to their junior teams, the Canucks have trimmed their pre-season roster by eight more, and before we go any further, it’s worth noting that if you list them in the right order, you have a nice little couplet. So the Canucks have released:

Mike Zalewski, Alex Grenier, Alex Mallett, Kellain Lain,
Dane Fox, Curtis Valk and Spencer Humphries, and Jeremie Blain.

Poetry!

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I Didn’t Watch This Pre-Season Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, September 23, 2014

Tuesday night was a special night in Vancouver, as the Canucks returned to Rogers Arena, along with the San Jose Sharks, to provide us: one unit of hockey. But that’s not all, for the evening actually yielded not one, but two units of hockey. Elsewhere, on the banks of the San Joaquin River, in the tiny community of Stockton, California — a town filled with paranormal activity, such as a mysterious, unfeeling, sentient glow cloud that blocks out all telecommunication and broadcast signals, the Canucks and Sharks were playing another game. A secret game.

At least we assume it was a secret game played in the shadow of an nefarious glow cloud — all hail the mighty glow cloud — since it wasn’t televised or otherwise broadcast in any way, which is insane, because the government is literally watching me compose this blog, and yet no one could find a way, in 2014, for us to follow this game. No TV, and no radio (and no beer, which makes Homer something something). It was a total pain in the butt parts.

Especially for those of us who run a blog committed to writing a thing on every game, and moreover, a thing called “I watched this game”, which requires you to say you watched the game right in the title, and thus, to watch the game. But dammit, I didn’t watch this game.

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Stick in Link: Linden on separation; holy cow, there’s hockey tonight

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: McEneny, Pettit, Stewart sent back to junior

Canucks training camp is over, and we now move to phase two of the preseason: the playing of games. Today, it was blind dodgeball for some reason. But tomorrow, it’s hockey, with half the training camp roster hitting Rogers Arena to play host to the Sharks, and the other half off to San Jose to let the Sharks play host to them.

Save Kyle Pettit, Evan McEneny and Mackenze Stewart, who have been kindly asked to return to be at neither game, and instead return to their junior clubs.

The first two are headed back to the OHL, where Pettit plays centre for the Erie Otters and McEneny patrols the blueline for the Kingston Frontenacs. Stewart returns to the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders.

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Canucks kick off training camp with potential opening night lines

With 61 players at training camp, the Canucks have more than enough guys to comfortably make three full teams. Now, obviously, the goal here is to pare it down to one team, but for the time being, the players have been split into three groups: Blue, Green, and White.

It’s the first day of training camp, so it doesn’t make much sense to read too much into the lines that we see at this junction. They probably aren’t going to stay like that.

But it’s hard not to when you look at the line-ups. It’s clear the plan for Willie Desjardins and company isn’t to start with chaos and see how it comes together (ala John Tortorella last year, or Alain Vigneault a few times during his run). Rather, it’s to start with the ideal opening night lines and defense pairings, the ones written in pencil this summer, and see if anyone or anything else at training camp makes them reconsider. Let’s take a look at how it’s shaping up:

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Here’s the full 2014 Vancouver Canucks training camp roster

Canucks training camp opens Friday in Whistler, but the festivities actually began Thursday in Vancouver, as the players reported to Rogers Arena for fitness testing, headshots, and a meet-and-greet with the media. (According to reports we can predict before they’re even filed: as per usual, everyone worked out really hard this summer and is in the best shape of their life, everyone likes this year’s team a lot and thinks they have a great chance, and everyone is excited to hit the ice.)

There are 61 players attending the Vancouver Canucks’ 2014 training camp: 34 forwards, 21 defencemen, and 6 goalies. Over the next few weeks, this combination of veterans, prospects, invitees, and tryouts will vie to survive through to the team’s final, 23-man, opening day roster.

As we do every year, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this list, as the Canucks work to trim it down to a more manageable number. But first, a role call. Here’s the complete training camp roster, barring any last-minute adjustments or tryouts.

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Who are these media guys Ryan Kesler is talking about?

Unwilling to adjust to waking up one to three hours earlier, Ryan Kesler forced a trade within the timezone this summer, joining the Anaheim Ducks. The centre will still be around Rogers Arena quite a bit, of course, since he just had to go to a team in the division, but he is no longer one of us. Now he is the enemy.

But Kesler doesn’t view Canucks fans the same way. He doesn’t hate you, Vancouver — just select members of your media.

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J.T. Wyman gets Canucks training camp tryout; does he have a chance?

J.T. Wyman was the 100th draft pick in 2004, just nine spots after Alexander Edler (and 186 before Jannik Hansen). After the draft, he committed to four years at Dartmouth, where he played with former Canuck Tanner Glass, and then signed with his big-league team, the Montreal Canadiens. He played 3 games with them in 2009, probably encountering Perry Pearn, who was an assistant coach in Montreal at that time.

Five years on, Pearn and Wyman are set to reconnect. Pearn is an assistant in Vancouver now. And Wyman is on his way there to join the Canucks’ training camp on a professional tryout contract.

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Stick in Link: Jim Benning says some things; features on the new guys

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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Here’s what happened at the Canucks’ third Youngstars game

The Canucks prospects didn’t look like a team hungry for their first win in their third and final outing at the YoungStars tournament. Instead, they looked like a team that was hungry for real, and they were only too glad to let the Flames hand them their lunch.

After dropping two close ones to open the tournament — falling in overtime to Edmonton’s kids, then doing the same versus Winnipeg’s, these Canucks were never really in game three, closing the training camp tune-up (for some) with an ugly 6-1 loss. It was a total blowout. You’d have thought they feared overtime, having been hurt before, and wanted to make sure there was absolutely no risk of it.

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Hunter Shinkaruk and Bo Horvat are totally all about playing their game

Among the takeaways from the Canucks’ first two games at the Youngstars tournament: Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk have some chemistry.

It’s really a shame that Horvat and Shinkaruk probably won’t get to play together when September ends, what with Shinkaruk likely headed to the AHL after Canucks training camp, and Horvat looking at an NHL-or-bust scenario, where bust means “back in juniors for another year”, not “failed prospect”. The two look good together. An optimist might even imagine a future where they replace the Sedins as the next prominent duo in Vancouver.

Granted, they didn’t share a womb, which puts them behind the eight ball a little, although, heck, if the Canucks are smart, they’ll convert Mike Gillis’s now-abandoned “mind room” into a “utero room”, then put Horvat and Shinkaruk in there for nine months or so, just to really cultivate this chemistry. First one out succeeds Henrik as captain.

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Here’s what happened in the Canucks’ first Youngstars game

The Canucks prospects dropped their opening night tilt with the Edmonton Oilers’ prospects 4-3 in overtime on Friday night. That’s the short version. Here’s the long:

Clearly looking to make the transition from the team that closed last year to the team opening this one as seamless as possible, the Canucks opened the 2014 Youngstars tournament playing some ugly and ineffective hockey versus their Alberta rivals. Watching the first period of this thing, you’d have thought they picked up right where they left off: Vancouver couldn’t get the puck out of their zone, they couldn’t get a shot through, and their goalie was being hung out to dry.

Fortunately, the Canucks have a way of ensuring that this team doesn’t look too much like last year’s team: white helmets for some reason! In keeping with Youngstars tradition, all the prospects wear safety hats whiter than wedding dresses, I think to signify their relative hockey chastity or something, I don’t really know.

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Spitballin’ on betting odds, bad systems, and Bo Horvat

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: It’s going to be the best season ever, says everybody

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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Eddie Lack provides hope for controversy-free season on TSN 1040

Eddie Lack is everywhere these days. EA Sports events. Tim Hortons for some reason. And on Tuesday morning, the Canucks’ backup was on TSN 1040 to talk about the upcoming season.

Needless to say, after a season in which Lack won the starter’s role (if you can even call that death march a victory), there’s some concern that he might be a little annoyed to be back in the backup role. Lack will be watched closely all season, then, for any hint of frustration, any opening to start talking about the Canucks’ crease.

Fortunately, he knows it, and to that end, we have to give the guy credit for deftly sidestepping the question that would have otherwise fuelled this year’s goalie crisis.

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Who will the Canucks be in 2014-15? (Spoiler: we have no idea)

It’s difficult to know quite what to make of the upcoming Canucks season. There are causes for optimism: new management, and with it, a new way of doing business; a fresh-faced (sort of — he has an old man moustache) and slightly calmer coach that won’t try to Double Dragon his way into the visiting locker room or scream at David Booth for no reason; no David Booth, which likely means a higher team shooting percentage; actual prospects who just might make the team out of training camp; and, of course, those billboards promising “change is coming”, as though the Canucks are a vending machine from which you just bought a Caramilk.

But there is also fuel for the cynic. Last year’s leading goal-scorer plays for another team in the division now. Many of the returning players are hockey old. Willie Desjardins, Jim Benning and Trevor Linden have never done this before.

In other words, it’s a crapshoot. Frankly, I’d say the most accurate Canucks season preview comes to us from Doris Day, who said “que sera, sera”. That about sums it up. Will we have rainbows, day after day? No clue, as the future’s not ours to see. But we do know the past. And I can think of four recent teams that next year’s club could be.

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Watch every goal Ryan Kesler scored last season (Part 3)

And finally, we come to the last run of Ryan Kesler goals for which Vancouver fans are ever going to cheer. It’s been amusing watching the backlash to these posts. People: we do this every year. Plus it’s not like Kesler’s the only guy in the videos. More often than not, it’s about seeing what the other guys do to contribute.

Still, I understand that Kesler has become public enemy no. 1 around these parts, and fans don’t want to see him smiling or celebrating ever again. People: your nightmare ends here.

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Watch every goal Ryan Kesler scored last season (Part 2)

Ryan Kesler may be gone, but we can’t forget him just yet. The outbound jerk scored 25 goals for the Canucks last season, which means we have to account for them in our annual series, in a three-part series. The humanity!

We know, you aren’t so fond of him anymore. But before you write him off completely, remember some of the good times. Here are eight more of said good times.

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Eight guys that could centre the Canucks’ second line

The departure of Ryan Kesler from the Vancouver Canucks has left a Ryan Kesler-sized hole in the roster, like when a cartoon character exits a room through the wall.

It’s a concern, no doubt. Nobody in the Canucks’ room has the tools or the skillset to contribute what Ryan Kesler did at his best (although if it’s any consolation, neither does Ryan Kesler anymore). Still, someone is going to fill that role this season, and it’s not like the Canucks don’t have options. Let’s take a look at the most likely guys to win that job this season.

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