Stick in Link: Canucks Halloween costumes; Malhotra returns to NHL

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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Breakdowning Daniel Sedin’s wizardous goal against the Washington Capitals

As soon as Daniel Sedin scored the gamewinning goal on Monday against the Capitals, we were inundated with requests on Twitter to breakdown the goal in our typical Breakdowning fashion. They weren’t the only ones: as soon as I saw the goal, I wanted to break it down, because it was just so perfectly representative of Wizardous Sedinery. The Canucks kept the puck in the offensive zone for a full 51 seconds, dizzying the Capitals with their cycle game before a couple short passes and a subtle move by Daniel created a wide open scoring chance.

We intended to have a Breakdowning post up on Tuesday, but circumstances kept pushing it back. Fortunately, three days since it was scored, the goal is still just as gorgeous and absurd. Let’s break it down to see exactly how it came about.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Detroit Red Wings, October 30, 2013

For a week now, we’ve been expecting the Canucks to look like a tired team. We thought it would happen at the tail end of the road trip, with back-to-back games in New Jersey and St. Louis. It didn’t. We thought it would happen in their first game back, versus the Washington Capitals. I was confident it would. But it didn’t.

On Wednesday, however, right about the time we thought the Canucks had just powered through the exhaustion and finally filled their tanks, the club appeared to run out of gas. They looked tired in this one. Dog-tired, and I mean that literally. They spent the whole night dragging themselves around the ice with their tongues hanging out, lapping water furiously from their bowls, sitting in their circular, plush beds, and barely even lifting their head when John Tortorella threw a stick into the defensive zone. I watched this game.

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The Week Ahead: Red Wings, Leafs come to town; Canucks start California road trip

Every Wednesday we take a look at The Week Ahead to see what storylines we’ll be following, because Wednesday is a day meant for looking ahead to the future. Around here we call Wednesday “Future Day” and we all wear silver jumpsuits and big bubble space helmets. Doesn’t everybody do that?

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The Paper Feature: Kesler to wing, and John Tortorella’s other bright ideas

“I just look at Kes like a winger,” John Tortorella said at the end the trip. This raised some eyebrows. Kesler is, after all, a pretty good centre, and taking him out of the centre depth chart leaves a massive, Kesler-shaped hole there, like when a cartoon character exits through a wall.

But here’s where it got absolutely crazy: Tortorella then proceeded to list off some of the other changes he plans to make, and if you thought that Kesler on the wing was a twist, the other innovations will blow your mind.

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Can we still be outraged about Karl Alzner shooting his glove at Daniel Sedin?

Prior to Monday night’s game versus the Washington Capitals, the Canucks seemed to really be struggling to draw penalties. I’d argue it was mostly bad luck. Sometimes you go through a stretch like that. But it led many fans to wonder if it had something to do with Vancouver’s not-entirely-fair reputation as the divingest team in NHL history, a rep that’s half lazy narrative and half Ryan Kesler’s showy acting choices. (He’s the Anthony Hopkins of diving. He needs to become the Daniel Day-Lewis of diving.)

Versus the Capitals, however, the Canucks got their powerplay chances. Six of them, in fact. They weren’t able to — wait for it — capitalize, but that’s okay. For the first time in awhile, they got calls.

But it was far from a flawlessly officiated game. In the end, it doesn’t matter, since the Canucks won, but the contest featured a blown call that, had they lost, would have been the topic du jour in Vancouver this morning. It could have changed the game’s whole complexion, like Clearasil. (Instead, the Canucks had to change it themselves, with Sedinasil, the only skin care cream made with Scandinavian twin magic.)

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Stick in Link: Sedins’ agent plays Alfredsson card; more beer at Canucks games?

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 Game: Canucks vs. Washington Capitals, October 28, 2013

Here’s what some idiot had to say about this game when he was previewing it in last Wednesday’s Vancouver Sun: “If you skip just one game this year, I’d make it this one. Teams tend to be at their absolute worst right after they return from lengthy road trips, and with the Canucks facing the high-flying, Alex Ovechkin-led Washington Capitals, this is probably your most likely candidate for an embarrassing, early-season blowout.”

Well then. That is most definitely not what happened in this one. Instead, we got a dominant performance from the Canucks and one of the most entertaining games of the year. I sincerely hope you didn’t listen to this idiot, and what an idiot he is. Does he even watch the games? The answer is yes, because that idiot was me a week ago, and boy did I feel like an idiot when I watched this game.

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Twelve ways the Canucks can stop Alex Ovechkin from scoring, which is pretty important

While you’d expect a team to be at their worst at the end of a long road trip, the Canucks and their crew of sleep doctors have frequently pointed to the first game after the trip as the truly bad one. The experts have said it; the Canucks have shown it.

The infamous, 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in November of 2010? That was the first home game after five away, and after the debacle, we learned that the sleep doctor had tabbed that contest well in advance of the shellacking as likely the ugliest outing of the year. April 20th of last season, the Canucks returned from another five-game trip to muster an unacceptable 14 shots in a game versus the Detroit Red Wings. They won, unbelievably enough, thanks to Cory Schneider and some luck in the shootout.

That in mind, it will probably take a little more luck for the Canucks to escape Monday night’s visit from the Washington Capitals with both points. After seven games in the East, this one has all the trappings of a bad night out for the boys in blue.

But the Canucks can increase their luck by doing one very important thing: shutting down Alex Ovechkin. It’s easier said than done, of course. The Capitals’ sniper has 32 goals in his last 32 games, 15 more than the next guy. He’s got a league-best 10 in 11 games this year, and even has people talking about him scoring 50 in 50. So yeah, you want to beat the Capitals? Don’t let Ovechkin score. If the Canucks can get him to play like he tweets — which is to say, terribly — for just one night, their chances improve exponentially. Here are a few strategies for shutting him down:

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Big Numbers: 7-game road trip, powerplay shortage, and heading to the rafters

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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Spitballin’ on the Utica Comets getting a point, Manny Malhotra being a great guy, and diving Kesler backlash

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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I Watched This Game: Canucks at St. Louis Blues, October 25, 2013

Even before this game started, the Canucks had already had the most successful 7-game road trip in franchise history, with a 4-1-1 record. Sure, two of those games came after regulation, but it’s still an impressive record, considering the 7 games of the trip came in the space of just 11 days.

As a result, a loss against the Blues wouldn’t just be unsurprising, it would be borderline acceptable. This was the second game of a back-to-back, with significant travel in-between those two games, while facing several injuries, with the backup goaltender in net, and multiple AHL-level players in the lineup. To top it off, the Blues are a very good team, off to a 5-1-1 start, and were well-rested to boot, as it had been a week since their last game.

Even getting a point out of this game would have been an accomplishment. Somehow, the Canucks managed to extract two. I was pleasantly surprised when I watched this game.

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Podcast it to Bulis: talking PITB, Canucks, and more with Vancouver Sun sports editor Scott Brown

Do enjoy reading Pass it to Bulis? Do you think you’d enjoy PITB in podcast form? Now’s your chance!

This past week, PITB has been busy. Along with our regular content online, we got a full page feature in the print edition of the Vancouver Sun, the first in what should be a weekly feature. We also shot a quick video, called Random Number Generator, which may turn into a recurring feature. And now, we both appeared on the Vancouver Sun Sportscast.

We’re conquering the online, print, video, and podcast worlds. Although “conquering” may be a bit strong.

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Watch ‘Random Number Generator’, an original PITB video project

Those of you familiar with this website may know of our occasional feature Big Numbers, where we try to draw attention to some of the notable statistics and trends surrounding this year’s Canucks. It’s an easy feature to put together, because all you really have to do is poke around for a number that jumps out at you, then explain why it jumped out at you. Basically, the numbers do all the work.

But what if they didn’t? Recently we got to thinking: what if the search began with the number, rather than ending with it? What if we were handed a number first, and we had to go digging in order to find this number’s connection to the team.

That’s the basis for our new video feature, Random Number Generator. Using two of Daniel’s Dungeons and Dragons dice (because he is a nerd), we rolled for four numbers between 1 and 100, then challenged ourselves to find links to the club. The results were stupid.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at New Jersey Devils, October 24, 2013

You had to know that at some point on this road trip, the Vancouver Canucks were going to hit a serious wall, and the quality of their play would suffer. After all, you can only play so many bad teams before you forget how to be good.

Sure enough, that’s what happened Thursday night versus the New Jersey Devils. For two periods, the Canucks hung in there, clinging to the memory of a decent hockey club. But in the third period, visits to Buffalo, Columbus, Philadelphia, and now New Jersey finally caught up with them, and they just forgot how to do hockey. It was bad. Fortunately, Roberto Luongo was there to bail them out, shutting the door the rest of the way to salvage the two points this type of hockey normally fails to yield. I watched this game.

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Is David Booth ‘not doing enough to play’?

David Booth will be back in the lineup Thursday against the New Jersey Devils after he was a surprise healthy scratch on on Tuesday. Against the Islanders, John Tortorella elected to go with 7 defencemen instead, dressing Andrew Alberts, then only giving him one shift, 37 seconds long. It was seen as an indictment of Booth’s play to start the season. Also seen as an indictment of Booth’s play: Tortorella’s indictment of Booth’s play.

After the game, Tortorella spoke to the gathered media and addressed Booth’s stint in the press box and he didn’t mince words. He was about as frank as The Punisher, saying “He’s not doing enough to play. Plain and simple.”

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Stick in Link: Schneider is no longer Luongo’s problem; Manny Malhotra update

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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No suspension for Frans Nielsen headshot on Kesler, because Kesler dove

The Department of Player Safety has been busy early in the season, handing out heavy suspensions for a number of dirty hits. In the last two weeks alone, Cody McLeod, Michael Grabner, Maxim Lapierre, Ryan Garbutt and Patrick Kaleta have been suspended for a combined 27 games, and that’s to say nothing of the impending John Scott suspension, which is likely to be the lengthiest yet this season. There has been little hesitation to drop the ban hammer, and the DOPS is only getting more aggressive.

All that in mind, you can understand why Vancouver Canucks fans would be somewhat surprised to learn that Frans Nielsen won’t even get a hearing for what appeared to be an elbow to the head of Ryan Kesler Tuesday night on Long Island.

Why no hearing? Why, when the Department of Player Safety is looking to crack down on headshots, especially picking the head, and when Alex Edler just returned from a three-game suspension for doing something fairly similar?

Simple. It’s a dive. Kesler dove.

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The Paper Feature: Judging Mike Gillis’s new acquisitions 10 games in

A commonly heard refrain at the beginning of the NHL season is that you can’t pass judgement on a team or player until at least 10 games have past. Really, this is a purely arbitrary number that just sounds good because it matches the number of fingers on our hands. 10 games into the 2010-11 season, the St. Louis Blues were in first place in the league after getting off to a hot start. 72 games later, they missed the playoffs.

With that said, 10 games is still enough time to start to get a feel for a team or player’s tendencies and it’s all we have to go on for some of the newest Canucks on the roster. While Mike Gillis didn’t make sweeping changes to the roster, despite all the talk about a “reset” at the start of the off-season, there are still a lot of new faces who we can start to judge.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at New York Islanders, October 22, 2013

After an incredibly entertaining game in Pittsburgh, Sunday’s game in Columbus was a bit of a snooze fest. Fortunately, the Canucks and Islanders apparently got together before Tuesday’s game in Long Island and decided that sanity is overrated, because this game was crazy in the coconut.

This game was more cray-cray than a pair of Cray supercomputers. If this game had membranes, they would be locked up in an insane asylum. It was more screwball than Hitchcock’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Even Bonkers D. Bobcat thought this game was a little much. I lost 1d4 Sanity Points when I watched this game.

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Scandal alert: Roberto Luongo may be James Duthie, which explains his poor October

Roberto Luongo’s Twitter account has always seemed too good to be true. Most hockey players suck at Twitter, after all. Consider Ryan Whitney, considered by Sports Illustrated to be one of hockey’s few essential follows. Look at his tweets. If these are the tweets of an essential hockey follow, then, well, heaven help us. Hockey is doomed.

Luongo, on the other hand, has always been a notch above. His @strombone1 account is funny. He’s current. He’s self-referential and self-effacing. He interacts well with others. It’s been an invaluable means of reinventing his hockey persona and revitalizing his relationship with the fans in Vancouver.

But the account has never been without controversy. Ever since it was uncovered, there have been conspiracy theories about to who’s really behind the account. It’s a comedian, said some. It’s Kevin Bieksa, said others who refused to believe a hockey team could have two funny guys. (Not unreasonable if, again, you look at most player Twitter accounts). And, in one of the most lasting theories: it’s actually Roberto Luongo superfriend James Duthie.

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Stick in Link: Roberto Luongo back on Long Island; My Little Pony Canucks

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 Prospector: Shinkaruk and Horvat impress, Gaunce and Corrado hold steady, Jensen still on shelf

It’s easy to lose track of how the Canucks’ prospects are doing during the regular season. After all, the Canucks play a game every couple of days and every spare moment in-between is full of fretting over what the result of the previous game meant for the team’s chances of winning another game ever again. All that fretting doesn’t leave a lot of time for anything else.

That’s why we’re starting a semi-regular feature on the blog called The Prospector, where we’ll take a look through the Canucks’ system and give you an update on a few select prospects. For the first edition of The Prospector, we’re going to start with the big names. There were five prospects that had a real shot at starting the season with the Canucks, but for one reason or the another didn’t make the cut: Frank Corrado, Brendan Gaunce, Hunter Shinkaruk, Bo Horvat, and Nicklas Jensen.

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Big Numbers: Canucks blocking a whole lot of shots, much to our surprise

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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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Columbus Blue Jackets, October 20, 2013

You have to consider this a successful weekend for the Canucks. Coming into the two-game set with stops in Pittsburgh and Columbus, the boys in blue had something to prove. Sure, they were a decent 5-3 in their first eight, but according to negative nellies that make up a sizeable portion of this fanbase, that record was misleading. The Canucks were only beating bad teams. The Devils, the Flames, the Sabres. Teams you’re supposed to beat. Against the good teams, however, they couldn’t hang.

Good luck saying that now. A day after hanging with the Penguins, a good team, the Canucks lost to the Blue Jackets — a bad team. Your argument is finished, Vancouver. It’s done. I waved goodbye to it when I watched this game.

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