I Watched This Game: Canucks at New York Rangers, November 30, 2013

In the classic Simpsons episode, “Cape Feare”, there is a sequence wherein Sideshow Bob steps on a series of rakes that repeatedly whack him in the face. Just rake after rake after rake, met with shuddering and a despairing groan.

I think you can see where I’m going with this. Against the Rangers, the Canucks just kept stepping on rakes, long after it had stopped being funny. Some gags get funnier with repetition, but the Canucks’ tendency to give up the first goal and inability to score goals of their own is getting old and tired. Time for some new material, guys. I watched this game.

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Spitballin’ on Daniel Sedin’s insane honesty, happy Lack, and Tortorella the poke-a-roo

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 Ottawa Senators, November 28, 2013

It goes without saying that the Canucks really needed this win, and for several reasons. At the rate their Western Conference rivals are racking up points, it was crucial they start getting two a night with a little more frequency, and after a terrible homestand in which they most certainly did not do that, it was paramount that they start this road trip off on the right foot.

But, most importantly, this win was vital because it set the tone for March’s Heritage Classic. That’s what this game was all about, after all. Why else do you think the Senators wore their black heritage jerseys? For fun? No sir. It was to intimidate, to say, We are already in Heritage Classic form. Come at us, bros. And the Canucks did, responding to the challenge with a performance that said, We beat you in 1915 for a reason. I watched this game.

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Canucks, Senators unveil Heritage Classic jerseys just in time for Christmas

The Heritage Classic, Vancouver’s turn to host an outdoor game (featuring a visit from age-old rivals the Ottawa Senators!!), is still over three months away. But with the Canucks in Ottawa Thursday, the NHL decided the time was right to unveil the jerseys the two clubs would be wearing and make them available for purchase.

We’ll assume, by the way, that the convenient scheduling that allowed this unveiling to happen the same day the holiday shopping season officially begins in North America was a total coincidence.

Anyway. On Thursday, the league told us what we had been expecting for quite some time: the Heritage Classic will mark the second coming of the second coming of the Vancouver Millionaires jerseys.

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Stick in Link: Tortorella staying the course; trade rumours and prospect updates

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 Week Ahead: Eastern swing with the Senators, Rangers, and Hurricanes; also, Nashville

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?

This week, it’s a road swing through the Eastern Conference, with a little Nashville at the end.

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Darren Archibald runs over Karl Stollery in hit-of-the-year candidate [VIDEO]

Darren Archibald was a pleasant surprise in his 8-game call-up with the Canucks. The 6’3″ winger didn’t look at all out-of-place in the NHL, which is quite the accomplishment considering he started his professional career with the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL, with many Canucks fans writing him off as a prospect.

It seems likely that we’ll see more of Archibald in a Canucks jersey, as he combines the frame and physicality of a fourth-liner with surprisingly soft hands and decent vision. But mainly it’s the frame and physicality, which Archibald put to great use Tuesday night, absolutely destroying Karl Stollery of the Lake Erie Monsters with one of the biggest (and cleanest) hits you will ever see.

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The Paper Feature: Behold, the worst homestand ever

Good hockey teams tend to outplay their opponents, and over the Canucks’ most recent six-game homestand, they did this regularly. But good hockey teams also tend to win with some regularity, and this, the Canucks are not doing.

It’s bewildering. Attempts to analyze what’s wrong have us all looking about as dense as Homer Simpson failing to recognize his wife’s fear of flying: “Marge, what’s wrong? Are you hungry? Sleepy? Gassy? Is it gas? It’s gas, isn’t it?”

Heck, I wouldn’t rule out gas with the Canucks. We just don’t know.

So you’ll excuse me if I forgo any attempt to get in there and analyze this most recent homestand for its systemic failures, which seems like a fool’s errand, and instead take a step back at marvel at this masterpiece of tragicomic theatre.

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Stick in Link: Thinking about last night; Name That Blue; Comets actually win a home 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. (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 Find This Photo Odd: The Sedins play Frogger

Have you ever noticed the Sedins look almost exactly the same? It’s uncanny. It might be a product of how much time they spend together. I mean, they’ve been hanging out since utero. You’re bound to share a few traits and quirks and drinking habits and zygotes if you’ve been tight for that long.

But in this odd overhead photo, shot by the great Jeff Vinnick, I see another striking resemblance: Frogger.

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Do the Canucks take too many shots from the outside?

The Vancouver Canucks drastically out-shot the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night, 39-22, yet in a familiar refrain, they didn’t out-score the Kings, mustering just 2 goals and losing in overtime. It was an incredibly frustrating loss and the 7th time in the last 8 games the Canucks have scored 2 or fewer goals.

To make matters worse, the Canucks had a whopping 8 power plays for a total time of 13:23 with the man advantage and only managed 1 goal. Better execution on the power play and the Canucks walk out with a win.

The Canucks now have a shooting percentage of 7.7%, 24th in the league, and 5.5% on the power play, last in the league. Given their shot totals and underlying possession numbers, the Canucks should be winning a lot more games, but their improbable run of lousy shooting has them sliding lower and lower in the standings.

Unsurprisingly, this has led to numerous questions from Canucks fans: why can’t the Canucks score? Will the Canucks score more than 2 goals in a game ever again? What does happiness feel like? Why does the universe hate us so much?

I can’t answer all of those questions, but I can at least try to figure out a partial answer for the first one. With the Canucks taking so many shots without results, some fans are questioning the quality of those shots, suggesting that the majority of the Canucks’ shots are from the outside and that they’re not creating enough shots around the net in the so-called “dirty areas.” So, is this true? Is the Canucks advantage in shots an illusion created by a plethora of long-distance, low-percentage shots?

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings, November 25, 2013

After emerging from a road-heavy early portion to the schedule with a very respectable 7-4-2 away record, the Canucks settled in for a nice, long homestand. Things were looking up. But instead, what was supposed to be a safe and breezy time at home has turned into something out of a horror movie, with fans screaming “GET OUT OF HOUSE. NO. DON’T GO UPSTAIRS. YOU IDIOT. YOU COMPLETE FOOL. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT. YOU DID THIS TO YOURSELF.”

Monday night was no different. Desperate to finish this awful homestand on a positive note, the Canucks did almost everything right. They played with passion and intensity, outshooting the Kings by a nearly 2-1 margin, hitting hard, drawing penalties, and driving the play. But they still lost, because that’s just what they do now. I’ve seen Toy Story 3, so I don’t just throw this descriptor around willy-nilly, but it was heart-breaking when I watched this game.

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Former Canucks Gary Leeman, Bob Manno and Rick Vaive named in class-action concussion lawsuit

The National Football League faced the first concussion-related lawsuit from a former player back in 2011 and settled the class-action suit for $765 million, with that money going towards diagnosis and treatment for former NFL players. When the lawsuits began, many wondered if hockey would see similar lawsuits from retired players. Wonder no more: Monday, the first class-action lawsuit from former NHL players was filed.

Ten players are named in the suit that claims the NHL did not do enough to protect players from concussions, with three of those players being former Canucks: Gary Leeman, Bob Manno, and Rick Vaive.

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Big Numbers: Alex Burrows can’t buy a break; Roberto Luongo can’t buy a win

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 vs Chicago Blackhawks, November 23, 2013

This game featured 5 fewer goals than the previous night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets and was simultaneously 5 times more exciting to watch. The game had an insane tempo, like John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”, with both teams flying, particularly in the first period. It was fast-paced fun, like Contra, but with an even less satisfying ending.

Once again, the Canucks played well, out-shooting the Blackhawks 36-29, but just couldn’t score more than one goal. That said, the “played well, didn’t win” narrative isn’t a particularly fun one to reiterate again and again. I could go for a few “played terribly, got lucky” games any day now. I was entertained, but disappointed, when I watched this game.

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Canucks replace Superman shirt with Haida hat for player-of-the-game award

Some NHL teams give out a player-of-the-game award at the end of every game, either to a player who had a big offensive game or worked particularly hard. During HBO’s 24/7, it was revealed that the Capitals handed out a hard hat, while the Penguins opted for a shovel. During the 2010-11 season, the Bruins passed around a vintage Bruins starter jacket.

The Blackhawks have used a WWE belt, the Rangers a fedora, and the Predators a fireman hat. But, as far as we know, the Canucks have never had a similar award, at least until this season.

Early in the season, we saw various Canucks wearing a Superman t-shirt and an Under Armour head band in a post-game interview, but it appears that they may have landed on a different, more west coast, award.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Columbus Blue Jackets, November 22, 2013

Walloping the Columbus Blue Jackets really shouldn’t be a cause for celebration. After all, these aren’t last year’s Blue Jackets — these are every other year’s Blue Jackets. But after Tuesday’s loss to the hapless Florida Panthers, who looked like a team with an abundance of haps compared to the suddenly inept Canucks, some fans were left wondering if Vancouver was going to win (or even just score a few goals) ever again.

Fortunately, where the Panthers surprised the Canucks by their unending efforts to win the game — weird, that — the Blue Jackets these days appear more committed to helping other teams find their grooves. They’re the Winston Shakespeare of teams. On Tuesday night, they gave up seven goals during a visit to the Edmonton Oilers, a team that recently went three home games without scoring a goal. And on Friday night, they were once again the angel of a Western Canadian fanbase, allowing 3 goals to the Canucks — Vancouver’s total offence in the last three games combined — in a 2:10 stretch of the second period.

Thank you, Columbus. For the first time since this ill-fated homestand began, thanks to you, I can happily say I watched this game.

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Spitballin’ on John Tortorella the media darling, Cowan the Bra-barian, and Higgins for Sochi

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.

Continue Reading —›
Do the Canucks need a sniper?

The Canucks are currently 4th in the NHL in shots per game and are out-shooting their opponents by an average of 4-and-a-half shots per game. Despite taking all these shots, the Canucks are 20th in the league in goals per game and have been outscored 61-to-58 this season.

With just 6 goals in their last 5 games, the Canucks have a lot of their fans asking the same question: does the team need a sniper? Well, actually, it isn’t usually phrased as a question but as an emphatic statement: The Canucks need a sniper now, now, now!

It’s an odd question to answer, as every team in the NHL wants to add goal-scorers, as long as it makes sense financially. With the Canucks, however, it’s not brought up as a desire but as a desperate necessity. If the Canucks don’t add a natural goalscorer, someone who lives and breathes putting the puck in the net, then they’re doomed.

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How that Twitter feud between the Canucks and Oilers should have gone

Coming into Tuesday night’s contest, the Florida Panthers had never beaten the Canucks at Rogers Arena. Never. That in mind, and with the Canucks riding a four-game losing streak and Tim Thomas in the Florida net, Canuck fans sat down for what looked to be a pretty satisfying evening.

It was not. In the end, the only enjoyable moment from Tuesday night was the brief Twitter feud between the official Twitter accounts of the Canucks and, of all teams, the Edmonton Oilers. (@VanCanucks has been a lot sassier this year, I think due to the fact that the @canucksgame account has been retired, meaning any residual in-game snark has bled over to the main account.)

But even that managed to disappoint in the end.

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Stick in Link: Silver lining in losing streak; Henrik Sedin, fantasy dud

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 Week Ahead: Canucks receive visits from Kings, Blackhawks and a third team

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?

This week, the Blue Jackets, Blackhawks, and Kings come to town.

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The Paper Feature: Is it time to panic yet?

Here’s a potentially-alarming fact: if the NHL playoffs were to commence tomorrow, the Canucks would miss the cut.

This next part is less alarming: the playoffs don’t start tomorrow. (That’s good, because I was starting to get worried that I had somehow missed a full 5 months of my life given all the consternation in Canuck nation, and I would cry if I missed Christmas. And my son’s birthday; that’s probably important too.)

Thanks to a hyper-competitive Western Conference, the Canucks’ X-X-X record has them in ninth place, just outside of the playoff picture. Fortunately, like Michelangelo’s Entombment, that picture is unfinished, which means that any panic at the moment is premature. I prefer, to paraphrase the great Eddie Izzard, mature panic or even post-mature. Wise, learned man panic.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Florida Panthers, November 19, 2013

Well, that game was lousier than a kid with pediculosis capitis. The Canucks started poorly, were mediocre in the middle, then just plain awful at the end. They were bad and they should feel bad. They sucked harder than someone trying to drink a Slurpee through an 11 kilometre long straw.

The Canucks came out flatter than Wayne Knight’s character in Space Jam. Or Michael Jordan’s acting in Space Jam, for that matter. Regrettably, unlike in Space Jam, Bill Murray didn’t show up out of nowhere to save the day. I wish I had watched Space Jam, but, instead, I watched this game.

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Stick in Link: Canucks can’t score; healthy scratch Booth

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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