Drance Numbers is the silly research wing of PITB. While Messrs. Wagner and Mooney blog nationally and solve mysteries, Drance Numbers will look into the minutiae of quantifiable NHL data and bore you with it every Friday. Today, Drance looks at the situations in which the Canucks are most likely to drop the gloves.

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While it is unrealistic to expect the Canucks’ to repeat the franchise-best season they had last year, fans still expected a better start than this. The Canucks are 9-9-1 through 19 games, capped off by a frustrating loss to the Blackhawks on Wednesday. There are many who see an echo to last year’s game 19, a 7-1 thrashing at the hand of the ‘Hawks that came to be known as the Voldemort game. Here’s the thing: at that time, the Canucks had a record of 10-6-3. The Canucks have gotten off to a worse start than last year, and last year caused endless hand wringing.

The issue thus far for the Canucks is neatly demonstrated by Wednesday’s game in conjunction with their previous meeting with the Blackhawks. Back on November 6th, the Canucks systematically took apart the Blackhawks in a 6-2 victory. 5 of their 6 goals in that game were scored on the powerplay. On Wednesday, the Canucks didn’t receive any powerplays and only scored one goal. The common factor: in both games, the Canucks only managed one goal at even-strength.

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This one started out promisingly, like that movie Vanilla Sky, as Chicago and Vancouver came out flying in a high-paced, nearly even first period. It began to come off the rails a little in the middle portion, like that movie Vanilla Sky, as the Canucks took the lead, then immediately surrendered two powerplay goals to finish the frame down by one. And then, like that movie Vanilla Sky, everything went to crap in the end, and the final twenty minutes was so freaking bad you doubted whether any of it was ever any good, even the stuff you initially liked. Vanilla Sky sucks, and I was reminded of it when I watched this game.

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Pass it to Comics: Aaron Rome’s lucky duster

Pass it to Comics is a biweekly collaboration between PITB and cartoonist Chloe Ezra. It will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the season. Today, Aaron Rome rides the moustache to glory.

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Cody Hodgson sounds like a huge nerd, you guys

Cody Hodgson is playing some excellent hockey right now. The rookie centre has 4 goals and 5 assists through his first 18 games, he’s made the second-unit powerplay look threatening for the first time in two years, and he was named the first star Sunday night versus the Islanders. He’s finally beginning to make a case for himself as a bona fide top-six forward, and Canuck nation is beginning to swoon at his potential.

But don’t be too quick to embrace Cody Hodgson, everyone. I’m beginning to suspect that he’s a huge nerd. Let’s consider the evidence.

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Vancouver has been carrying only 12 healthy forwards for a week now, a situation that almost got weird in California when Alex Burrows was a game-time decision and it looked as though Aaron Rome might have to play as a forward. Granted, Aaron Rome is a goal-scoring dynamo these days, but the Canucks have actual forwards under contract, right?

Right. But due to a string of seriously bad luck, they don’t have any they can use right now.

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The Sedins skate uphill, invoke the 90s

The Canucks initially showed this awesome video on Rogers Sportsnet during one of the intermissions of their game against the LA Kings and now it’s available online. And I love it. It’s absolutely hilarious to watch two of the best players in the NHL inline skating in the summer time, mainly because of the memories it evokes.

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Two players were injured in the Canucks’ preseason game against the San Jose Sharks on September 25, 2011. One has returned to the lineup with gusto, scoring 5 points in 4 games; the other is done for the season. Alain Vigneault confirmed today that Steve Pinizzotto’s season is over before it even began — the rugged winger has undergone shoulder surgery.

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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 topics that deserve mention.

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At its core there was an illegal operation taking place within the walls of Penn State University.  It happened to be crimes of child molestation that were allegedly being perpetrated by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky who supposedly used his Second Mile youth charity to recruit children for his own purposes.  This story will only grow as more information is [...]

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Aaron Rome’s 5 point week was great news for Canucks fans, but terrible news for his anti-fantasy owners. The “No Offense D-Man” category was meant to be a guaranteed low score: “no offense” is right in the name. Instead, Aaron Rome has made a huge impact in his return from injury, and while his scoring pace won’t continue at this level, he is going to score a lot more than any of the other players in his category. Harrison outlined a few reasons why this morning, all of which are reasons for his anti-fantasy owners to start sweating. Heck, Rome has more points than Lubomir Visnovsky.

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While it’s safe to say that Aaron Rome won’t continue scoring at this pace, don’t expect a Jeff Cowan-like perma-drought once this run begins to cool. Aaron Rome is going to continue to get points this season. Here are three reasons why.

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Aaron Rome.

I watched this game.

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I’m Brendan Shanahan, the National Hockey League’s Senior Vice President of Player Safety. Friday night in Anaheim, an incident occurred during a game between the Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks. 11 minutes into the second period, Vancouver defenceman Aaron Rome delivered a completely legal hit to Anaheim winger Devante Smith-Pelly. He won’t be suspended because that would be stupid.

Okay, so Shanahan didn’t produce a video after reviewing Rome’s hit on Smith-Pelly, and reports indicate that he wasn’t entirely happy with the hit and believed the discipline issued during the game was sufficient for the offense. But I like to believe that he watched the video and said, “Seriously? The referees called that elbowing?”

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Imagine, if you will, three siblings whose parents unfairly insist that they do chores during the Canucks game against the Ducks. The chores require that at least two of the siblings help out at the same time. Fred, Biff, and Heidi, the siblings, decide that each of them will watch one period from the game, then afterwards they would get together and tell each other what the game was like. Fred watches the first period and reports that it was a dull, but evenly matched affair. Biff watches the second period, flips out, and lights a Canucks jersey on fire in the backyard. Heidi watches the third period and insists that the Canucks are the greatest team in NHL history. And then gets angry at Biff for burning her jersey.

It was like the game had multiple personality disorder. Or, it might have just been an elephant. Unlike the hypothetical siblings, I watched all of this game.

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Drance Numbers is the silly research wing of PITB. While Messrs. Wagner and Mooney blog nationally and solve mysteries, Drance Numbers will look into the minutiae of quantifiable NHL data and bore you with it every Friday. Today, Drance looks at Ryan Kesler’s remarkable special teams contributions.

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The Canucks marched into the Staples Centre looking to take control of things from the outset, and they got lucky when their ideal meshed perfectly with the Kings’ gameplan, which appeared to be to take careless penalties and cede control early. (It was kismet, I think.) After being gifted a lengthy five-on-three, the Canucks put their powerplay specialists — Sami Salo and Andrew Ebbett — to work, jumping out to a quick two-goal lead. Then Aaron Rome stepped up (as usual these days), adding an insurance marker that would stand as the game-winner. Meanwhile, I would sit as the game-watcher, because I watched this game.

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Hardcore Fans: Jordan Bowman is a funny guy

Like many Canucks fans who spend an inordinate amount of time on the internet, I’ve been following the Replace the Kurtenblog contest currently being held by our sister newspaper The Province. There are a lot of great people competing, many of whom we’ve had the pleasure of getting to know over the past couple years: Cam Charron, Jeff Angus, Clay Imoo, Katie Maximick, and Thomas Drance are all blogosphere mainstays and there are a lot of other quality bloggers in the race.

Because of this, it doesn’t feel right to throw PITB’s support behind any one blogger. But there’s one guy who I had never heard of prior to this competition and I just found his videos on YouTube. They are legitimately hilarious. His name is Jordan Bowman and he deserves some love.

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Pass it to Comics: Mason Raymond takes contact in practice

Pass it to Comics is a biweekly collaboration between PITB and cartoonist Chloe Ezra. It will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the season. Today, Mason Raymond is welcomed back by Kiss Huggins and friends.

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Aaron Rome’s teammates ruin his interview, as is tradition

Things are finally looking up for Aaron Rome, who’s had a rough time of it lately, but returned to the lineup Sunday in Chicago and contributed right away. He scored a pivotal goal in his first game back, putting himself a goal away from doubling his career-high single-season totals with plenty of time to get it done. Then, the big score earned him some rare camera time with Joey Kenward for Canucks Today!

That said, don’t get too excited: his teammates made sure to give him that familiar “ruined moment” feeling by hovering in the background of the shot for pretty much the entire interview.

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While scaning the Canucks tumblr feed earlier this morning (a place just teeming with love for Sami Salo), I came across the following catchphrase, from the mind of Claire Gibson: “Salo is Your Pal-o.” And, not unlike the day I discovered that “Dammit I’m Mad” was a palindrome, this blew my mind.

Considering that Salo is the ultimate team guy and his teammates adore him, this catchphrase is as accurate as it is awesome, and it deserves to be more widely used. Better yet, it has to be on a t-shirt, and that’s why PITB is launching The ‘SALO IS YOUR PAL-O’ T-shirt Design Contest, which will solicit images for and award prizes to what will presumably be the best t-shirt ever made. Here’s how to enter.

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Once again, it’s time for Ask it to Bulis, where the two most handsome bloggers in the world answer your questions about the Vancouver Canucks. Side effects include enlightenment, rationality, and back pimples.

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After Ryan Kesler’s tweets became much more interesting while he sat around recovering from offseason hip surgery, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the Canucks’ long layoff in California would yield a little action on the Canucks on Twitter front, and we weren’t disappointed, as Dale Weise (@DaleWeise32) spent most of Tuesday afternoon interacting with Canuck fans in his first day on Twitter.

Weise became the latest in a long line of Canucks to sign up for an account in the past few months, a phenomenon we suspected might happen. While things weren’t looking up for tweeting Canucks in the wake of the Mike Duco fiasco, when Kevin Bieksa (@kbieksa3) finally caved to public pressure and signed up, you knew other Canucks were on the way.

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The Soft Sedin Myth

Popular wisdom is that the easiest way to shut down the Sedins is to play a tough, physical game. The theory goes that the Sedins wilt under physical pressure, with the Stanley Cup Final submitted as proof. The takeaway from that series for a lot of people is that the Sedins are too soft and that all that is required to shut them down is to hit them. Is this view true? How do the Sedins perform in more physical games? Are the Sedins soft?

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Pass it to Comics: The secret to David Booth’s success

Pass it to Comics is a biweekly collaboration between PITB and cartoonist Chloe Ezra. It will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the season. Today, David Booth makes his own luck.

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