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Lace 'em up - SEP.03.08

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Mike the Yankee

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<table border=0 align=center width=80%><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/mikeblog.gif border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>The end of summer is such a great time. Sure, we'll all miss the bikini's but I tire of hearing the same ol' excuses about "missing sunny weather" or "Backyard BBQ's are the best." Last I checked the sun still shines in the fall and BBQ's aren't impossible in the snow. In fact, with some some winterly dedication, seared & seasoned meat by-products can be yours no matter what the tilt of the Earth's axis is relative to the plane of its revolution. <br><br>

Yup. <br><br>

And, naturally, the first sniff of a new hockey season can return. Few things suck more then trying to be a hockey blogger in late July when the best you can do is analyze hockey player vacation habits or real estate transactions ("Did you hear? Nylander sold his condo near the Potomac meaning that he, um, recognizes its a bad time to have four mortgages"). At least this summer we had that Swede - henceforth known as "he who will not be named" - to keep us entertained and informed; honestly who knew there were so many free online Swedish translator tools out there? Trevlig! <br><br>

<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/06/jun2408_camp07_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4>So with training camp now within tooth-spitting distance, it seems like an ideal time to roll out a thoroughly unscientific and woefully subjective list of training camp predictions to whet the appetite until the bag skates begin. Shall we? <br><br>

<b>1. Grabner will be on the ice for opening night </b><br><br>

I don't pretend to have special sources nor am I friends with his doorman, but the guy who shared the lead in goals with the Moose last year should have a good camp. He was knocked in the media last year for not showing up prepared for camp, so a year later expect him to come in ready to shatter expectations that he's a one dimensional player. Like Raymond before him, his time is now and I, for one, welcome our new budding Austrian overlord. <br><br>

<b>2. Rypien will make it through the entire year with no injuries</b><br><br>

We've been waiting eagerly for the Rypien train to hit full speed for a few seasons now. Sadly, he's been snake bitten with finger and groin injuries but here's hoping he can make his presence felt during camp and, if need be, at the NHL level at a more consistent level. Besides, Darcy Tucker calls the Northwest home now and I'll be damned if Vancouver sits by and doesn't silence him early, often and with extreme prejudice. <br><br>

<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/06/27_hodgson03_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4><b>3. Hodgson won't make the team, but will make you smile inside</b><br><br>

You really want him to make the team? Na, no need to rush the young Linden-in-training anymore then necessary; let him enjoy being 18 for a bit before the entire city starts analyzing his every move like an impatient mother at a family wedding. But after hanging out for a summer at the Dave Gagner Power Play Training Centre and Smoothie shop, he should give us all a preview of why he was worth the first round pick back in June. <br><br>

<b>4. Who's hungrier: Jaffray & Hansen? </b><br><br>

Both Jaffray and Hansen are on the bubble to make the team (remember, I said this was subjective). Assuming Grabner stays on course and the rest of the chips fall where they must, there may only be room for one of these guys come opening night. Jaffray showed us last year he had the goods while Hansen was a post season step-in two years ago and bolstered his YouTube resume this past summer by embarrassing the Leaf’s Kaberle at the Men’s World Ice Hockey Championships. So I think that should be the deciding factor: call up Fletcher and see if we can borrow Kaberle for a day. His job would be just to hang around center ice and see which guy can pull off a move that embarrasses the Leaf's number one defender more. If you make him cry or get him traded to Florida, you're in. <br><br>

<b>5. A new record for preseason penalties will occur between September 22-23. </b><br><br>

A home and home with the Oilers to start the preseason off? The same team that eliminated these guys back in April? The same two teams that, back in February, tallied 14 fighting majors, eight misconducts and 193 penalty minutes in about 90 seconds? The same two teams filled with eager youngsters with nothing to lose? Mike Brown?! Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. <br><br>

<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/08/aug2008_skate10_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4><b>6. Bernier will be needing a new nickname</b><br><br>

For every Taylor Pyatt-like project that succeeds, you have a Brad Isbister wart in the middle of your face. So while it's safe to say that Bernier and Wellwood are similar reclamation projects, it's Bernier who may turn up to be the most pleasant surprise. He cut his teeth with Marleau and Thornton down in San Jose and just needs the benefit of ice time. If he can earn it, then the sky's the limit. And, ya, his nickname previously was 'Big Bear' but I think we can improve on that. <br><br>

<b>7. Luongo will be better then the last time we saw him walk on water</b><br><br>

Right, hardly a longshot prediction, but he himself admits he had could have played better at the end of last year. He has a new team in front of him, a leadership void he's ready to help fill and his family actually living in B.C. this time around behind him. All in all, it sets the stage for Lui to push himself even harder then we've seen him do so far. Crazy isn't it? And bad for the rest of the league at the same time. You should be smiling reading that. <br><br>

<b>8. Fin will have his best season ever</b><br><br>

Fueled by making out with Pamela Anderson last year, Fin's renewed since of vigor and mammalian pride will reach its pinnacle when he dusts off Thunderbug, Tampa's mascot, at center ice during a charity event. Upon returning home he'll be lauded at GM Place and rewarded with another high-profile make out session, though this time with Lindsey Lohan (once she's busy ruining what's left of Michael Phelps that is). <br><br>

<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/08/aug1508_demitra03_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4><b>9. Demitra will make you remember what having a sniper is like</b><br><br>

It's been a number of years since we last saw a Canuck player who had the talent to be even remotely considered a sniper. But Demitra should help change that; he's been terrorizing Vancouver for a few seasons now from Minnesota (*spits*) so it's time for some payback. Next to the Sedins, Demitra will give us the best highlight goals we've seen in years. <br><br>

<b>10. The Flames won't win any preseason games</b><br><br>

Sure it doesn't count for much, but it sets a good precedent for the beginning of the season. And the rest of the season for that matter.</td></tr></table>


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