I Watched This Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, October 3, 2013

When the first game of the regular season is a loss, it’s tempting to keep talking about the process, individual performances, and positive signs like it’s still the pre-season. After all, it’s a long season with plenty of time for the Canucks to adjust to a new system and for the roster to evolve into its final form. Like a Pokemon, it takes a lot of battles, a trade, or…uh, an elemental stone. Okay, the metaphor breaks down a little.

In any case, I say forget being level-headed. This is the first game in months where the result actually matters. I say we revel in this loss. Let it hurt. Get upset. Allow the loss to get under your skin and piss you off. You can wait until tomorrow to realize that it’s just one game out of 82. For now, let this game matter, because games that matter are way more fun than games that don’t matter.

This game? The one that mattered? I watched this game.

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Canucks mascot Fin stars in new Scotiabank commercials; other, lesser mascots also appear

If you’ve been watching the start of the NHL season, you’ve surely seen at least one of the new Scotiabank commercials starring a cadre of NHL mascots. There are nine such commercials on Scotiabank’s YouTube channel and they’re all pretty good. It should come as no surprise, however, that the best ones feature the best mascot in the NHL: Fin.

Fin is a fantastic mascot, managing to simultaneously be friendly and approachable for kids, while also a little terrifying, such as when he bites those same kids’ heads off. Overall, Fin is a well-designed mascot with a lot of versatility, since he doesn’t have a giant, bulky head limiting his movement options.

He also has a surprisingly expressive face, considering it’s stuck in one expression and can’t move. That one expression, though, is a good one that works for almost any situation. That giant smile could indicate unbridled enthusiasm or it could be a mischievous grin. In the right context, there’s even a hint of sarcasm. You can see Fin put that expression to good use in the three commercials that he appears in for Scotiabank’s new campaign.

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Alex Burrows and the Sedins are soulmates; break them up at your peril

Alex Burrows will start Game 1 where he’s started so many games in the past: alongside the Sedins. Now, normally, this wouldn’t be all that notable. After all, it’s his usual spot. But John Tortorella entered training camp with a plan to get him off the Sedin line.

Makes sense when you think about it. Burrows’ deployment there was, after all, Alain Vigneault’s big innovation. If you’re angling to exact some kind of major change to the look of your lineup, especially after Mike Gillis opted to keep it mostly the same, roster-wise, then anointing a new third Sedin is definitely one way to make your mark.

But in the end, Tortorella appears to have discovered what Alain Vigneault realized shortly after the pairing came together: Alex Burrows is basically the Sedins’ soulmate.

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Jason Garrison (and Canucks fans) rejoice: the new coach is a sadist

The neutral zone drop-pass on the powerplay was used to perfection in Vancouver all through the 2010-11 season, and Vancouver fans loved it — right up until the Boston Bruins figured out how to defend it. After that, it was seen as symptomatic of everything that was wrong with the Canucks’ powerplay, and many assumed that the coaching staff cull — and the dismissal of Newell Brown, who introduced the club to the tactic — would spell the merciful end of it in Vancouver.

Nope. Despite Brown’s move to Glendale, the drop-pass remained a regular sight on the Canucks’ powerplay in the preseason, mainly because, despite all the griping, it works.

Consider the drop pass like the Sedins’ slap-pass: an innovation that worked so well in Vancouver that other coaching staffs, including the incoming one, realized they should be doing it too. So long as you don’t overrely on or telegraph it, which is where the Canucks occasionally got into trouble, it’s the ideal approach. The moment the teams stand up at the blueline, you leave the puck for a trailer, who skates onto it with added speed and more time to find the weak spot in their Red Rover-esque wall. There will be many, many more drop-passes this season, and most of the time, they’ll be the right course of action.

But while that aspect of the powerplay remains unchanged, this year’s coaching staff did make one big adjustment: Jason Garrison will finally get his shot, which means the first unit powerplay will too.

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Stick in Link: Mayor Robertson is anti-naysayer; season’s first can’t-miss game

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.

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