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The '08 evolution continues (training camp open thread)

9/24 9:10 AM ET - The Grabner and Hansen show got off to a good start last night; the two of them combined for the winning goal when Hansen skated around Robert Nilsson, throw a pass in the middle and Grabner popped it past Roloson. Hordichuk scored the other Vancouver goal (Cowan and Hordichuk are in quite the dual I see) whereas the only goal to get by Luongo was pushed past him in part by Mike Brown.

A boring game, but one where again Vigneault gave the kids plenty of ice time and they rewarded him. Hodgson was held without a shot but was solid nonetheless playing with Demitra and Bernier.

The Canucks play their next two pre-season games on the road: San Jose (Saturday) and the Nonis/Burke/Bmo machine on Sunday. Vigneault has already said he does not plan to make any cuts to the roster until after Anaheim.

Alix recapped the game as did the comments over at Lowetide and Covered In Oil.

Some Edmonton fans will say the preseason is meaningless and we still suck and, naturally, they are half right. But I got news for them: when the sultan of bullshit thinks you'll be in the top four in the west, you're already fucked. Have fun with that curse.

In other news...

- Last night's recap with a great picture of Brown and Huxley exchanging phone numbers. In case that's not enough, here's another recap.

- The Sun catches up with Ryan Walter. Good luck if you can read this whole thing without losing consciousness.

- Tony Gallagher plays coach and suggests Kesler is better on the third line though doesn't provide much of a reason other then the "what about Burrows" defense. Kes, on the other hand, may have different thoughts.

- Bernier starts off his Canuck career by taking the Matt Cooke approach: piss off the opposition at all costs.

- Another day, another Hodgson piece. Little guy thought he scored, how adorable.

- Mike Brown's next target could be punching your mother if that's what it takes.

Finally, I think this open thread has gone on long enough. I'll keep it open for another day maybe but then back to business (you know, more cursing and unbridled pessimism).

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9/23 7:33 PM ET - Three hours to gametime and Hodgson and Grabner are getting excited. Unlike with Wellwood, Vigneault is doing nothing by praising the kid:

"In my mind talent has no age. In Cody’s case, there’s a maturity level that you don’t always see at that age. You see the maturity not just in the way he conducts himself on the ice, and with his teammates, but off the ice, the seriousness that he brings to his individual preparation. We’re just really anxious to see how’s he’s going to do."

You know for once I agree with Viggy: talent certainly does not have an age. That's why I gawk at 18 year old women because I respect their talent. Put that on a T-shirt.

9/23 2:20 PM ET - The gang over at Melt Your Face Off has their Vancouver preview up and running (thanks to Wrap Around Curl). We here are incredibly supportive of the last picture and she is always invited to whatever toilet bar we end up watching hockey in; in fact we'll spring for the Hooch or vodka cranberry or whatever the fuck it takes.

9/23 11:52 AM ET - The official game preview is up and it sounds like the top two picks from June will get their first taste of life in the NHL tonight. The starting lineup appears to be:

Hodichuk - H. Sedin - Hansen
Demitra - Hodgson - Bernier
Bolduc - Cullen - Burrows
Grabner - Johnson - Brown
(Rypien)

McIver - Salo
Krajicek - Fitzgerald
Sauve - Bieksa
Nycholat - Ellington

Luongo - Sanford

With Hordichuk, Rypien, McIver, Brown, Burrows, Fitzgerald and Bieksa, there's some "energy" in that lineup for sure. Good thing the Canucks and Oil never resort to fighting or complete line brawls.

9/23 8:45 AM ET - The Canucks managed to do something last night they haven't done since March: win a game. Granted it was vintage Vancouver as it took a comeback and a shootout to win it (not to mention it took besting Mathieu Garon which is something they couldn't do last season either), but it's preseason so we can't bitch too much.

Someone go pat Nonis on the back for not moving Schneider in his weaker moments because, between the Souray bombs and 33 total shots, he held his ground and kept the team in the game. And now he knows something Luongo knows: it takes the Canucks a while to get moving (as evident by them outshooting the Oil 21-6 from the third period on).

Some other notables include Krog with the winner and 17-for-27 on faceoffs. Wellwood wasn't as piss poor as I would have bet prior to the game. Dan Gendur's tying goal was a step in the right direction and it was a pleasure seeing Mitchell and Ohlund uninjured and doing their part. Good to see Jeff Cowan score, but I don't believe I saw any bras make an appearance (fucking Edmonton).

Other takes on the night from Sean, Alix and Lowetide.

Elsewhere...

- Schneider was a rockstar and reminded folks that Hodgson may get all the praise but he's still the #1 Vancouver prospect.

- Salo is excited for a season in which the duct tape keeps him held together.

- Wellwood came across as a "maddening mix of slow, soft, smooth, smart and effective". Vigneault said he was "all right". And sadly Wellwood's butterballish frame would have been fine if this was, you know, 1972.

- I don't agree with the nickname Eddie Money, but Edler is still the gift that keeps on giving.

- In case anyone forgets (though I doubt the puck bunnies will) the Canucks still have Taylor Pyatt.

The Canucks go back at it tonight with different squads but the same bitch Edmonton team at GM Place @ 7:00 PM PT.

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9/22 8:19 PM ET - OK, top this Vancouver fans. I'm watching the Rangers/Senators preseason game - one in which Petr f'ing Nedved is playing for the Rags and has already scored, Auld is in net for the Sens and Shannon, Ruutu and Isbister are all bopping around out there - and I'm doing my best to stomach seeing Naslund in that uniform when Mark f'ing Messier waddles into the booth and says, no shit, that the Naslund/Gomez/Zherdev line is probably the most talented line in the league. Mind you he said this while Naslund missed a pass in front of the net.

Asinine.

9/22 2:50 PM ET - The official game preview is up and running and Hordichuk is now blogging on canucks.com. In case you were curious if he and roommate Bernier go to the hot tub together, the answer is yes.

9/22 9:15 AM ET - Game day news:

- Just in case anyone missed it, yes, Wellwood is still out of shape. Sean found a recent image of him and I share management's concerns.

- Another day, another article on Hodgson's sudden rise to franchise savior.

- Hansen could bring youth, skill and PK talent to the team if he makes it. Oh and Mike Gillis seems quite taken by the Dane. In fact, Mike loves all the kids. (don't read into that one too much).

- Speaking of the GM, his willingness to NOT travel with the team means, yes, one extra ticket is up for grabs.

- Vigneault spins the sudden lack of leadership component for his team.

9/21 9:37 PM ET - Gametime tomorrow in Edmonton and here's the guys making the trip:

D.Sedin - Wellwood - Pyatt
Pettinger - Krog - Simek
Jaffray - Kesler - Gendur
Cowan - Rypien - Raymond
Labrie

Ohlund - Heshka
Mitchell - Baumgartner
Rahimi - Edler
Davison - Sharrow

Schneider - Goehring

And, oh ya, Wellwood is out of shape again. Simply amazing. (h/t Kukla).

9/21 4:19 PM ET - I escaped on a small trip this weekend so I didn't get to update last night. At any rate, let's play some catch up right quick.

Canucks.com - The mothership also has a video interview with Demitra.

Canucks.com - An interview with Bernier. He said he would never eat a horse. Wuss, you just dropped down a peg in my book Mr. Bear.

Ben Kuzma: A chat with Davison who apparently had Gillis as an agent. I had no idea but that makes two players who have opted to play for their agent (Demitra being the other). Anyone got a list of all the players who Gillis represented? Could be handy to have as the season progresses.

The Province: More praise for Hodgson. I didn't think the kid was going to make this immediate an impact. Dreams can come true I guess (that dream being the Canucks didn't blow another first round pick).

Ben Kuzma: Salo is excited to have a healthy season. Right. This article has got to have one of the best bylines I've ever seen: "Finn vows to put 29 injuries behind him".

The Province: More debate on the next captain, but more important is what Alix referenced in the comments below:

Prospect Cory Schneider, who is set to be the starter in Manitoba this season, will go the distance Monday in Edmonton, playing all three periods.

...

The squad to play in Edmonton Monday is expected to be the Canucks' "Team B." Its top line at main camp in Whistler features Darcy Hordichuk, Henrik Sedin and Jannik Hansen.

The second line is one of the most intriguing at camp, featuring Pavol Demitra, Cody Hodgson and Steve Bernier.
Ya, you're damn fucking straight that's Team B. No offense to D-town, but Hordichuk has no right riding shotgun with Sedin. This is why people don't trust saying "Vigneault" and "offensive strategy" in the same sentence.

Jason Botchford: Grabner, Hodgson and Raymond are definitely getting their shots.

Jason Botchford: Who's going to play with the Sedins yadda yadda yadda.

And, for good measure, some of the pictures from day two of camp:


Pop quiz: which one of these guys do you think is the motivational speaker?


Wow. If nonverbal communication could ever tell a story, here it is.


One looks busy working out, one looks patently confused and one looks bored. Christ.

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9/20 8:00 AM ET - Day one of camp kicks off with a few news items:

Iain MacIntyre - Basic camp overview, including a look back at last year's car wreck, injuries from last training camp and a choice quote from the mind of the coach (when asked if he felt the team was effectively unchanged from last year):

"I do think, if you analyze what's proven, we're almost in the same position as we were. [But] this year we have two things we didn't have my first two years: we have kids like Mason Raymond, Jannik Hansen, Kyle Wellwood - guys like that are going to get an opportunity. In the past, we didn't have that young talent that was right there at the door knocking. And we have something we haven't had since I've been here: We've got cap room. We've got 10 million bucks right now. Before, we were always right at the cap, no more money to spend. In the past, if something came up - and it probably did come up - we couldn't do it because we had no money. Now we we're going to be able to do something..."

Elliott Pap: Bernier and the Sedins start camp apart, still no word on who the new captain is (please, it's Mitchell), and Krog wants his shot.

Elliot Pap: Davison, Bieksa and the rest certainly don't like giving blood, the V02 max and being told to cough on crotch grabs. Although, honestly Willie, if you're going to be captain you need to learn to smile when near pretty girls, needles or not. Perk up!

9/19 4:00 PM ET - ...speaking of pictures, check out which rockstar Canuck goalie ditched the mullet. I know the critics won't reference this, but I have high faith in the success ratio of the less mulleted teams.

9/19 10:30 AM ET - ...and first into camp this morning is our captain!

Wait wait, my bad. Old habits die hard people. But going with #91 Markus? Channeling the spirits of your 1991 season with Modo where you notched 19 points or just a homage to Fedorov and Daigle? Well whichever. Good luck with it. Clown.

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9/18 11:15 AM ET - Before the camp gets rolling, let's get a look at the cast of characters that will form the core of the team which, over an 82 game span, will cause you to laugh, smile, cry, break things, stomp small woodland creatures, scare neighbors and loved ones, kill your liver with booze and maybe, juuust maybe, find religion if you haven't done so already.

Barring any last minute changes, injuries or camp invites (Anson Carter, where are you now?), the roster at the moment looks like:

Forwards
Steve Bernier
Alex Bolduc
Alexandre Burrows
Mike Brown
Jeff Cowan
Pavol Demitra
Dan Gendur
Michael Grabner
Jannik Hansen
Cody Hodgson
Darcy Hordichuk
Jason Jaffray
Ryan Johnson
Ryan Kesler
Jason Krog
Pierre-Cedric Labrie
Matt Pettinger
Taylor Pyatt
Mason Raymond
Rick Rypien
Daniel Sedin
Henrik Sedin
Juraj Simek
Kyle Wellwood

Defencemen
Nolan Baumgartner
Kevin Bieksa
Rob Davison
Alexander Edler
Taylor Ellington
Zack Fitzgerald
Shaun Heshka
Lukas Krajicek
Nathan McIver
Willie Mitchell
Lawrence Nycholat
Mattias Ohlund
Daniel Rahimi
Sami Salo
Yann Sauve
James Sharrow

Goalies
Karl Goehring
Roberto Luongo
Curtis Sanford
Cory Schneider

Once again, congrats to the prospects who made it through. Gendur certainly remains driven, Hodgson clearly wants to make the jump now and slow, steady progress over the years have finally rewarded Rahimi and Ellington on the blueline.

Between primetime acts and the prospects, here's a look at some of the other names sprinkled into the mix:

Karl Goehring - Career AHLer, Goehring has bounced between Syracuse, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Norfolk and then back to Syracuse. On March 3, 2008, he was named AHL Player of the Week for going 3-0-1 with a 1.21 GAA and a .963 save %. Signed by the Moose this past summer, he is a long shot to make the squad obviously. In fact, I'll gladly bet my duodenum if he can take down Sanford as the back-up. (Go ahead, google duodenum, I had to as well).

James Sharrow - Remember this guy? He was acquired for the failed Jesse Schultz experiment last year from Atlanta. Sharrow spent all of last year on the Moose and notched 22 points.

Lawrence Nycholat - Already covered this guy, but if I were him, I'd get prepared to live out of the suitcase since it'll make the Manitoba-to-Vancouver early morning flights easier. Expect him and either Baumer or Davison to fight it out for the remaining defensive scraps.

Nathan McIver - He of 18 NHL games experience (no points but 58 PIM's), McIver was used a lot last year as an injury replacement but not sure if he can crack the existing squad. Though he'll certainly be given every chance to. His willingness to pay the price and drop the gloves are huge assets.

Shaun Heshka - Played mostly in the WHL so far, he did play get 30 points in 77 games last year for the Moose.

Zack Fitzgerald - Hockey's Future leads off their description of Fitzgerald with this: "One word comes to mind when mentioning FitzGerald's style of play: mean." See the Zacks fight last year for more which, coincidentally, has been his only NHL game so far.

Taylor Ellington - The #2 pick from the 2007 Draft, Ellington has been with the Everett Silvertips for four seasons and is likely to make the jump to the Moose if he doesn't have a phenomenal training camp with Vancouver.

Rick Rypien - C'mon, you know this one. I already made a thoroughly unreasonable guess that this year Rypien will go injury-free. If I jinxed it, then my apologies. But so far I'm 100% accurate and demand to be recognized as having a magical sense of clairvoyance bitches.

Jason Krog - The Mini-me reigning AHL MVP who angered mother Russia? I am excited to see what he brings in on a team where, literally, anything can happen over the next few days.

Jason Jaffray - This is a big year for him to step up and prove his contributions last year in a short period of time (2G, 4A) were no fluke. Look for him to fight Hansen and Grabner for a slot on opening night.

Mike Brown - Another injury call up from last year, he appeared in 19 games and contributed one goal and 55 PIMs. A bruising winger, he's bound for a call up if the 3rd or 4th lines get hurt or need a strong kick in the ass.

As for the names you know, Luongo is defying all critics with his excitement, Kesler is ready for another big season and low-man on the totem pole Jeff Cowan is determined to make the team (if, for no other reason, so Vigneault can ice Cown/Hordichuk/Brown on one line for the games against Edmonton).