Big Numbers: Burrows scores early, Edler leads Canucks

Every now and then we like to take a break from all the words and just post some numbers. And some words describing the numbers, as otherwise it would just be a whole bunch of numbers with no context, which would be really weird. Big Numbers is a weekly feature on Pass it to Bulis in which we identify the numbers and statistics that really matter or, frequently, the ones that don’t matter at all but are still pretty interesting.

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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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Parody of intermission Canucks interviews is hilarious, sweaty [VIDEO]

The 2014-15 regular season kicks off tonight and you know what that means: lots of intermission interviews that tell us the team needs to get more shots on goal in the upcoming period.

Intermission interviews are a wealth of no new information whatsoever. That makes them ideal fodder for parody and funny folks Kiah & Tara Jean stick the landing with this great video that nails every aspect of intermission interviews, particularly their sweatiness.

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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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The 2014-15 Canucks: A super-cynical season preview

Last season was one of the worst in Canucks history, with the team coming just short of setting a franchise record for fewest goals in a non-lockout season. It was ugly, uninspiring hockey and it cost both the coach and the GM their jobs.

“Change is Coming” the Canucks said and, on the surface, that appears to be true, with a bevy of new players joining the team. Ultimately, however, those changes amount to putting lipstick on a pig. And not particularly nice lipstick either. Like, slate grey lipstick.

“At least things can’t get any worse,” says the naive Canucks fan. So very, very naive. Things can always get worse. This season is going to be horri-awful.

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Stick in Link: Bieksa’s health, Desjardins’ craziness, and Lafayette’s memories of ’94

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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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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The PITB Podcast, Episode 5: Season preview and sophomore albums

Kiss my butt. Roll Tide.

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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 anthem singer, Mark Donnelly, wipes out mid-anthem in Penticton [VIDEO]

It’s pre-season for the Canucks, but it’s also pre-season for a lot of other people: referees, arena staff, zamboni drivers, and, apparently, anthem singers.

While warming up for the start of the NHL regular season at a Penticton Vees game, Canucks anthem singer Mark Donnelly tripped over the carpet in the middle of “O Canada”, crashing to the ice. Like a true professional, however, Donnelly didn’t skip a beat, continuing to sing from his rear end.

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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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The second line’s other winger is a bigger question mark than its centre

Radim Vrbata with the Sedins is looking like it could be magic. Dan Hamhuis has been reunited with Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler looks rejuvenated with Chris Tanev on his right side. The Canucks have a multitude of options for their bottom-six and should be able to create two solid lines that can contribute with scoring, defensive play, or physicality.

The biggest question mark right now is the second line. We knew it would be as soon as Ryan Kesler was traded and the Canucks made it clear that Nick Bonino would replace him as the second line centre. But Bonino has been good all pre-season and currently has four points in his four games, so he’s not the issue right now. Bonino and Alex Burrows have been a consistent pair throughout the pre-season and it seems clear that they’ll be starting the season together on the second line. The most uncertain aspect of that line, amazingly, isn’t the guy in the middle — it’s who will be the other winger, as they have had a different linemate every game so far.

Who will be their linemate at the start of the regular season next Thursday? Let’s run down the five candidates based on who’s played with them (and will play with them) in the pre-season.

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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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I Watched This Pre-Season Game: Canucks at Edmonton Oilers, October 2, 2014

I am so, so sorry.

It’s all my fault. When I wrote an article on Wednesday about how the Canucks could use an injury in the pre-season, I only meant that an injury to a veteran depth forward who already had a roster spot sewn up would make it a lot easier for the Canucks to keep one or two of their promising prospects — Nicklas Jensen, Hunter Shinkaruk, and Bo Horvat — in Vancouver.

Clearly, the hockey gods thought I was mocking them and ensured that just one forward left the Canucks game against the Edmonton Oilers: aforementioned promising prospect Bo Horvat.

I did it. Me. I take all the blame. It was incredibly selfish of me to tempt fate like that just to make what I still think is a completely fair point about how difficult the Canucks’ roster decisions are going to be. But it wasn’t worth it. It…wasn’t worth it…

I watched this game.

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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 Canucks could use an injury or two in the pre-season

The Canucks are down to a 27-man roster, now that Joacim Eriksson has been sent down to Utica. By the start of the regular season, October 8th, they’ll need to be down to a 23-man roster. Assuming they go with the usual contingent of 14 forwards and 7 defencemen, the Canucks need to cut three forwards and one defenceman in the next week.

Or, alternatively, they’ll need three forwards and one defenceman to go down with injuries that place them on the long-term injured reserve list. That may seem far-fetched, but they’re partway there already, with Brad Richardson, Zack Kassian, Alex Edler, and Frank Corrado all missing time with injuries so far this pre-season.

Edler is back already, of course, but Richardson, Kassian, and Corrado all missed practice Wednesday morning, though Richardson and Kassian skated with another group prior to practice. It’s entirely likely that all three will be fine by the start of the season, but even one player on the IR would make decision-making easier for Willie Desjardins and Jim Benning.

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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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Camp Cuts: Canucks re-assign Joacim Eriksson to Utica

Joacim Eriksson will not be the third head in the Canucks’ goaltending Ghidorah, as he has been re-assigned to the Utica Comets. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise: he was arguably the fourth best Canucks goaltender in the pre-season, assuming reports that Jacob Markstrom made 21 saves on 23 shots against the San Jose Sharks in Stockton can be believed.

Now Eriksson will be competing with Markstrom for starts in Utica, assuming he doesn’t cut and run to Sweden.

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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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