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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I Watched This Pre-Season Game: Canucks vs Arizona Coyotes, September 29, 2014

The Arizona Coyotes of Phoenix in Glendale may have a new team name, but they look an awful lot like the Phoenix Coyotes of old: defensively sound, difficult to break down in the neutral zone, and not particularly exciting to watch. As pre-season games go, this was one of them.

That’s not to say there weren’t moments of excitement. For instance, apparently a couple got engaged during a break in the action. That’s exciting, right? I mean, a meaningless pre-season game against the Coyotes isn’t really the most romantic of occasions to pop the question, even for the most die-hard Canucks fan, but love is worth celebrating.

Not worth celebrating: this game. I did not pop open any bottles of champagne when I watched this game.

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The PITB Podcast, Episode 4: Final Cuts and the second Babe movie

With 28 players still on the roster, there are just five players left for the Canucks to cut before the start of the season. We discuss which players are the most likely to get cut and what that means for the roster.

Joacim Eriksson is an obvious cut, as is Cal O’Reilly — or is he? Is Bo Horvat going to spend the entire season in the OHL or will he work his way up from the fourth line? Will Nicklas Jensen start the season on the second line ahead of Zack Kassian? Has Hunter Shinkaruk’s exciting pre-season snared him a spot or is it more prudent to send him down to the AHL because he doesn’t have to go through waivers?

But before all that, we talk about Saturday Night Live and Babe: Pig in the City, which is one of the most underrated sequels of all time.

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Spitballin’ on sneakiness in Stockton, prospect battles, and Shinkaruk’s goofiness

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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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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Jacob Markstrom clears waivers; what will happen now in Utica?

There was a lot of hand-wringing in Canucks nation yesterday when Jacob Markstrom was put on waivers. After all, he was part of the return for Roberto Luongo, a return that was already panned by many fans as being insufficient value for the best goaltender in franchise history. Take away Markstrom and the return becomes just Shawn Matthias.

We’ll ignore for the moment that Luongo had been labeled untradeable because of his contract; there’s plenty of cognitive dissonance among hockey fans. Let’s just admit that losing Markstrom to a waiver claim would not have been ideal, which is why the Canucks were entertaining the thought of keeping him on the Canucks roster.

Let’s all take a deep breath and relax: the Canucks’ third-string goaltender cleared waivers. Everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.

Except now the Canucks have three goaltenders on their farm team, one of whom could bolt to Sweden if he’s unhappy. Nothing’s ever easy for the Canucks, is it?

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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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I Watched This Pre-Season Game: Canucks at Calgary Flames, September 25, 2014

For the first time ever (at least on TV), Canucks fans got to see Willie Desjardins behind the Canucks bench. Sort of. We didn’t really see him at all, because he didn’t yell and scream, get in his player’s faces, or charge down the halls of the Saddledome to confront Bob Hartley.

I mean, I know this is his first NHL head coaching gig, but it’s like he doesn’t even understand how a head coach is supposed to act. Instead, he got his team to go out on the ice and play hockey, as if this was some sort of game where the objective is to score more goals than the other team.

I watched this game.

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Stick in Link: Dorsett and Sbisa are gritty, Subban is just a guy

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 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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Camp Cuts: Jordan Subban, Cole Cassels, Anton Cederholm returned to Junior

Willie Desjardins swore there would be no cuts until after the first preseason game(s). While that turned out to be a horrible, awful lie, the Canucks did cut a few more players today, sending Jordan Subban, Cole Cassels, and Anton Cederholm back to their Junior teams.

These cuts shouldn’t come as a surprise. The players lopped off the roster didn’t have a shot at making the Canucks this season anyway.

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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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I Watched This Pre-Season Game: Canucks vs San Jose Sharks, September 23, 2014

There’s no denying that the Sharks were the better team in this game. They out-shot the Canucks like crazy, particularly in the ugly second period, when they tallied 18 shots on goal to the Canucks’ 5. But really, in a pre-season game, you’re not necessarily looking at how the team performed as a whole, but instead at how individual players performed in a given role and how they fit with their teammates.

The result itself doesn’t actually matter…oh, who am I kidding. It was satisfying as hell to see the Canucks beat the Sharks, even if it was just in pre-season and even if the Sharks out-shot the Canucks 34-to-20. The Canucks got better as the game went on and they actually scored goals.

Look, I love preseason hockey, because it’s not no hockey. No hockey is dull and boring. No hockey is lame. No hockey is the worst. Give me preseason hockey over no hockey any day of the week, especially this day of the week, because on this day, I watched 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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The PITB Podcast, Episode 3: Pre-Season Roster Decisions and Weezer

Pre-season is upon us, which means it’s time to watch actual Canucks play actual hockey for the first time in a long while. It also means that Jim Benning and Willie Desjardins have some difficult decisions ahead of them.

Can Alex Burrows, Nick Bonino, and Zack Kassian be an effective second line? Will Radim Vrbata stick with the Sedins on the first line? Will Bo Horvat make the roster, even if it means centring the fourth line? Should the team keep three goaltenders on the roster?

We discuss these topics and more, but, before that, we talk about Weezer, accidental boob grabbing, and growing old.

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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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How will the Canucks’ off-season changes affect the power play?

The Canucks power play was painfully bad last season, converting at just 15.2%, fifth worst in the NHL. That alone didn’t cost the Canucks a shot at the playoffs — the Kings were actually worse at 15.1% — but when the team struggled to score at even-strength, their power play couldn’t make up the difference.

The off-season, however, saw significant changes on and off the ice that will have a major impact on the power play this season. Will those changes have a net positive or negative effect? That’s a little harder to figure out.

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The Canucks might start the season with three goaltenders, because they want us to suffer

Heading into Canucks training camp, there were just a few stories to keep an eye on. Simple things, like who would end up playing with the Sedins, who will centre the third line, and which defencemen will partner on the third pairing. In net, however, there was no story. Though it will be interesting to [...]

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