I Watched This Game: Canucks 3, Flames 2 (OT)

The Vancouver Canucks entered this game on a five-game losing skid. The Calgary Flames, meanwhile, arrived in Rogers Arena having lost seven straight. Somebody was going to end a spiral tonight. Something had to give.

In the end, it was the Flames who gave, embracing the season of giving, and going big by gifting the Canucks the opening goal, which turned out to be pretty important. It was a pretty generous gift, and it left the Canucks feeling embarrassed, because they only got Calgary a loser point and a Hudson’s Bay gift card. I watched this game.

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Canucks of the Week, starring an honest, critical Ryan Miller

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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The Paper Feature: Seven surefire ways to fix what ails the Canucks

It goes without saying that the Vancouver Canucks have been crummy for a while now, but since it’s my job, I’ll say it anyway: crummy, crummy, crummy. Wednesday night’s loss to the Dallas Stars pushed the club’s losing streak to five games, and left the club scrambling for answers.

And we have them. With two games remaining before the Christmas break and the swing through California that will immediately follow, it’s imperative the Canucks gets things turned around immediately, and we have a few suggestions that should help them to do just that. Admittedly, we’re hardly experts here, but I think even the most experienced hockey mind will be able to see that our ideas will lead this team back to the path they were on to start the season.

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Hidden Easter eggs and unexpected cameos in the Canucks holiday fireplace video

If you’re such a diehard Canucks fan that you can’t even light the fireplace without ruminating on your devotion to the home team, we at PITB sincerely hope you’ve stumbled across the Vancouver Canucks 2014 holiday fireplace, an hour of crackling fire, surrounded by Canucks paraphernalia such as a Fin plushie, four Orca stockings, and even the leg lamp from A Christmas Story done up in a Canucks sock and a skate.

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Big Numbers: Canucks can’t score, but killing it shorthanded

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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Stick in Link: Bad luck Lack; Canucks looking to move forward(s)?

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 [...]

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 0, Stars 2

I had a soccer game last Sunday and, with our regular goaltender on holiday, I was called upon to play in net. We were short a player, so, playing with only 10 men, I had to make a lot of saves.

I was playing very well, making a diving stop here, a point blank kick save there, giving my team a chance. Then, near the end of the first half, the other team had a corner kick. The player mis-kicked it, sending it too close to the near post. It was easy for me to jump up and grab it before it could go anywhere dangerous. The ball hit my hands and I landed on my feet, ready to send my team the other way.

And the ball slipped out.

I don’t even know how it happened. One moment the ball was in my hands, the next it was on the ground and I was scrambling to grab it, only to have one of their players get his foot in and kick it across the line. It was devastating to have a good performance suddenly turn into a catastrophe. I felt like I let my team down, like all the saves I made in the rest of the game were rendered null and void.

In short, I know exactly how Eddie Lack feels right now. I felt his pain when I watched this game.

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Finding shooting lanes and blocking shots: a breakdown of the Canucks’ possession statistics

An off-handed comment by Steve Burtch, who writes about analytics for Sportsnet and developed dCorsi, got me thinking about how we look at advanced statistics when judging teams. Essentially, he suggested that looking at “combined” statistics like corsi percentage or fenwick percentage was doing a disservice to the data and that it’s more useful to look at a team or player’s corsi for and against separately, as it provides more information.

This seemed to me to be an interesting point, though I still feel there’s value in combining metrics. After all, the point of hockey isn’t to score or prevent goals, but to out-score the opponent, so looking at just for and against by themselves doesn’t capture the entire picture.

It’s useful, though, to see how a team is getting to their totals, whether it’s via low-event, defensive play or high-octane offence, or somewhere in between. So, I decided to look at the Canucks’ corsi and fenwick statistics both for and against and see where they rank league-wide, to see if it would shed some light on the Canucks’ performance this season. Quite frankly, I was surprised by the results.

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Eddie Lack starts versus Dallas, as the Canucks gift us something to argue about

After a gruelling, seven-game Eastern road swing that, predictably, saw the Canucks regress into a knockoff version of themselves, with their legs turning to rice noodles and their blood turning to beef broth — in other words, they became the pho-Canucks — the team has a pretty soft schedule this week.

Between appearances on Hockey Night in Canada, the Canucks play just once — Wednesday night versus Dallas. It’s great for them. Their system needs a tweak. They need a rest. And the whole team could stand to regain their composure a little.

But it’s terrible for those of us who write about them. We need games to fuel us, especially after a four-game losing streak. We’ve already blamed the Sedins and criticized Willie Desjardins for playing Jannik Hansen on their line; Kevin Bieksa and Luca Sbisa are already broken up; we’ve scathed the defence, we’ve cast aspersions on the offence. We’re parched over here. For the love of all that is holy, throw us a bone, Canucks!

“Eddie lack confirms he is starting tonight.”

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Stick in Link: Vrbata rejoins Sedins, Sbisa and Bieksa split

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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