2013 in Review: An exhaustive Canucks retrospective

It’s time, once again, for PITB’s annual, exhaustive, retrospective compilation of all the major Canucks stories of the year that was, and in order to get a sense of this year, we turn you over to what we wrote about 2012.

“It was like 2012 didn’t even try,” we said. “Come on, 2012. You embarrassed yourself. (On the bright side, there’s almost no way 2013 can suck this much.)”

So, yeah. About that. 2013 was pretty bad. Was it worse than 2012? That’s debatable. But it’s close, and part of me suspects it might be our fault for saying it couldn’t be.

That in mind, let’s try a different approach this time around. At least 2014 can’t get any better, right? Here’s our year in review.

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Stick in Link: A little more of Jannik Hansen; goaltending decisions for Sochi

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 top 16 Vancouver Canucks saves of 2013

We’ve counted down the top 30 goals from 2013 and now it’s time to give the goaltenders their due.

This is a slightly more difficult task. Every goal from the past year is recorded and archived, for goals are relatively rare occurrences in the grand scheme of things. Saves, on the other hand, are extremely numerous. As a rough estimate, there is an average of 60 shots per game and around 5 goals, which means saves outnumber goals by around 11-to-1.

As a result, there are some superb saves that get noted during the game and are immediately forgotten afterwards, at best buried in a post-game highlight package.

Some saves, however, are good enough to be uploaded to YouTube for posterity, whether by the NHL, the official Canucks account, or various fans. From those saves, we selected the 16 best Canucks saves of 2013.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. Philadelphia Flyers, December 30, 2013

The Canucks finished 2013 the exact same way they started it: locked in. Wait. That’s not right.

Truthfully, the Canucks were locked in for this one. Focused. Formidable. They looked pretty good out there, registering 44 shots, the most the Flyers have surrendered all season. But it wasn’t enough, because outshooting your opponent by a ratio of nearly 2 to 1 is meaningless when you outscore them by a ratio of 1 to 1. That’s a one-way ticket to the shootout, which, in Vancouver’s case, usually means a one-way ticket to just one point. That held true in this game. And I watched this game.

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Big Numbers: Sedins have similarities; Canucks are tough to score on

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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The top 30 Vancouver Canucks goals of 2013 (10 – 01)

You’re not going to believe this, but 8 of the 10 goals that close out this year’s countdown are generated by the Sedins. They are wizards.

We’re spoiled here in Vancouver. Other team blogs could do a countdown like this, but I’m fairly confident that it wouldn’t be anywhere close to as loaded with pretty goals. They’ll have some, no doubt, since the Sedins aren’t the only guys in the league that do pretty things, but I don’t know that anybody does it with the regularity Daniel and Henrik do.

Keep that in mind as you enjoy our final 10. Special players, those two.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Calgary Flames, December 29, 2013

Like Johnny Galecki, the Canucks were a little rusty. The week-long break between games didn’t do the Canucks any favours, as they struggled to dispatch the lowly Flames. Don’t get me wrong, they were never in danger of losing this game, generally dominated puck possession, and were clearly the better team, but they couldn’t get the puck past the mediocre Reto Berra more than twice.

Frankly, this game had no business being as close as it was: the Canucks out-shot the Flames 30-to-18 and were about as smothering as a helicopter parent in the defensive zone, while Lack was perfect in his first game as the number one goaltender with Roberto Luongo injured. Aside from a strong push at the beginning of the third period, the Flames never looked competitive with the Canucks, which is why a 2-0 win is so underwhelming.

That said, the Canucks didn’t get sucked into playing down to the level of an inferior opponent and came away with a win, so it was still relatively satisfying when I watched this game.

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The top 30 Vancouver Canucks goals of 2013 (20 – 11)

One of our favourite traditions here at Pass it to Bulis is our annual countdown of the best goals of the year. We started this year’s edition with two games remaining in the season, because we are incredibly confident that they won’t result in anything that tops the 30 we already have.

Of course, the Calgary Flames and Philadelphia Flyers give up a lot of goals, so there’s always the chance they pull a couple highlight reel moves out of the hat, ruining this entire enterprise. In the meantime, here is the middle third of the list, featuring a trio from Daniel Sedin, a couple each from Zack Kassian and Jannik Hansen, a spattering of defencemen, and a soupçon of Henrik.

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Canucks sign Dane Fox, probably because this guy on Twitter said they should

The Canucks have terminated the contracts of two players recently, Zach Hamill and Adam Polasek. This not only created some room in the prospect pool but also freed up a couple contracts to help refill that pool.

Mike Gillis added another forward to the pool on Saturday, signing Erie Otters forward Dane Fox to an entry-level contract. The over-ager has had a fantastic season for the Otters, but that’s not the real reason Gillis took a chance on the undrafted Fox. The real reason: the devoted efforts of Twitter user Mark G, aka. @gitch80.

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The top 30 Vancouver Canucks goals of 2013 (30 – 21)

It’s been an interesting year to be a Canucks fan. Between the unexpected coaching trade with the New York Rangers, the unexpected playoff sweep at the hands of the San Jose Sharks, and the unexpected draft day trade with the New Jersey Devils, there’s been plenty of drama.

Plenty of goals, too. 226, to be exact. And, as is tradition here at PITB, we close out the year by counting down our favourite 30. As you might expect, it’s a list full of Sedinery. But if dazzling displays of chemistry, passing and vision aren’t your thing, well, you might be a bad person. Improve yourself by remembering the year in Canuck goals with us.

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Stick in Link: Andrew Alberts’ baby steps, David Booth likes sledding, and Bo Horvat at the World Juniors

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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Canucks recall Joacim Eriksson from Utica; Luongo’s groin injury likely to keep him out of the lineup

It looks like Roberto Luongo’s groin didn’t heal up over the Christmas break, as the Vancouver Canucks have recalled goaltender Joacim Eriksson from the Utica Comets. This means the Canucks will be rolling with a goaltending tandem with a grand total of 11 games of NHL experience between them, all belonging to Eddie Lack.

This is obviously a concern, but one slightly lessened by Lack’s performance this season, particularly recently. The Stork has a .928 save percentage and a 1.93 goals against average this season and has allowed just 3 goals against total in his last 3 starts. John Tortorella hasn’t hesitated to start him against some tough opponents this season, such as the Blackhawks, Blues and Ducks.

Eriksson’s recent performance in Utica is also encouraging, though his overall statistics for the season are mediocre at best.

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Canucks Christmas sweater ornaments by Chloe Ezra; reader trees and decorations

It’s the night before Christmas, which I believe is traditionally known as The Brink of Christmas. Pretty sure that’s right.

Those of you who celebrate Christmas with all the trimmings likely already have their trees fully decorated, stockings hung by whatever passes for a chimney in your home, and lights lit, both indoors and out. Some of our fine readers, who we affectionately refer to as Bulies (pronounced bōō-lēz), even sent us pictures of some of their Canucks-themed decorations.

There are some families with the tradition of getting a tree on Christmas Eve and decorating it that night. We call these families insane. But if you happen to be one of these crazy families, we have just the thing to make your tree extra-adorable: new Canucks Christmas ornaments from Chloe Ezra!

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Big Numbers: Chris Tanev is pretty great, but not as good as Dan Hamhuis

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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The 26 best tweets from @Strombone1 in 2013

On Saturday, I curated Puck Daddy’s year-end list of hockey’s top 10 Twitter moments in 2013, and as you might expect, the countdown featured an appearance from the league’s top quipster, Roberto Luongo, known on the Twitters as @Strombone1.

“We could probably just do a top 10 countdown of Roberto Luongo’s Twitter moments,” I wrote, half-jokingly, before almost immediately realizing that I really should.

But you may notice that this isn’t a top 10 countdown. I can explain: once you start going through the tweets on Luongo’s legendary, unverified account, it’s tough to stop at just 10. So instead, we’ve decided to go full Buzzfeed on you guys. (Well, almost full Buzzfeed. We’ll stop at selecting Ryan Kesler to lead The Gay Revolution, unless that’s what Trollbama decides to rename Team USA in his efforts to make a statement with his Sochi delegation.) Here are Roberto Luongo’s 26 best tweets of 2013:

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Winnipeg Jets, December 22, 2013

‘Twas three nights before Christmas, in Rogers Arena;
Not a creature was stirring, not even Serena,
Assuming there was a Canucks fan, of course
Whose name is Serena asleep on the concourse.

Actually, though I might be delusional,
Rogers Arena was louder than usual.
Jeering the Jets as they came out a’shufflin’,
Including that portly defenceman named Byfuglien.

He isn’t much cared for out here in Vancouver:
When he was a forward hard to outmaneuver,
Too big and too strong to remove from the crease,
He helped give the Canucks two straight playoff defeats

But now Dustin Byfuglien and pal Andrew Ladd
Are skating for Winnipeg’s Jets (who are bad),
So playing against him just isn’t the same
And neither was watching when I watched this game.

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”Season’s Tweetings: Alex Burrows vs Santa’, an original holiday tale

In what’s become something of an annual Christmas tradition, like watching Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York at the same time (by watching either one of them), we’ve put together a little poem that combines our love of hockey with our fondness of the holidays. Hope you enjoy it.

For past poems, check out Daniel’s Worst Christmas (2011) and Gary Bettman, Commissioner of Christmas (2012), or non-canon CFL tale, An Ode to Marty the Horse).

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Chicago Blackhawks, December 20, 2013

If you only watched the first period of this game, well, that was stupid of you, wasn’t it? That’s like watching Home Alone and shutting it off right around the time Kevin leaves the church after his heart-to-heat with Old Man Marley. I mean, granted, you’ll see the clip from Angels With Filthy Souls, which I guess could be analogous to Chris Higgins’ breakaway chance, but that’s pretty much it for early entertainment in this slow-building holiday classic.

Now, I can see why you might have wanted to turn it off after the first, since the Canucks didn’t turn it on until around then anyway. They were outshot 10-3 by Chicago in the opening twenty, and two of those shots were by Andrew Alberts and Tom Sestito, who are about as threatening a duo as Harry and Marv in Home Alone. But after that, this thing really picked up, with the Canucks turning the tables on the Blackhawks like Kevin turns the table on Harry and Marv in… okay, I’ll stop.

I decided I would be watching Home Alone tonight while I watched this game.

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Spitballin’ on Horvat’s animal nickname, Shinkaruk getting cut, and Luongo’s in-game tweet

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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Tom Sestito should spend more time in the press box

Tom Sestito is better at hockey than I ever will be. At 19 in the OHL, he scored 42 goals in 60 games for the Plymouth Whalers and he’s a legitimate point-producer at the AHL level, with 112 points in 246 games. Combined with his size and penchant for punching, his ability to play hockey has allowed him to carve out a nice professional career.

What he isn’t, however, is good enough to be playing every game in the NHL, like he has apart from two games missed due to injury. That’s why it’s baffling to see John Tortorella send him out on the fourth line, game after game, when the Canucks have better options. As harsh as this may be to say, the Canucks are undeniably a better team when Sestito is in the press box.

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When will we see Frank Corrado this season?

Up until December, the Canucks were extremely fortunate with their injury situation on defence — they didn’t have one. The Canucks had been able to keep a stable 6-man defence corps consisting of Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison, Dan Hamhuis, Chris Tanev, and Ryan Stanton. The only game action Yannick Weber and Andrew Alberts received was as forwards on the fourth line.

In the last two weeks, that has all changed, leaving the Canucks with a somewhat unstable defence. Meanwhile, Frank Corrado, who many expected to make the Canucks roster out of training camp, has yet to receive a call-up from the AHL.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Dallas Stars, December 19, 2013

Hey, remember when the Canucks were dynamite on the road but they couldn’t seem to win at home? That was a frustrating time. Fortunately, their recent successful homestand suggests that they’ve gotten that sorted out, and I’m happy to report that they aren’t suddenly and inexplicably plagued by an inversion of the same issue.

That’s what someone who didn’t watch this game might say. So I won’t say it, because I watched this game.

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Stick in Link: Milan Lucic thinks it over, says smarter things; weird Canuck goals

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: ’twas the Central Division tour before Christmas

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 visits to Dallas and Chicago yo play the Stars and Blackhawks, then one last home game before Christmas against the Winnipeg Jets.

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Can you name all 28 Canucks to score a shootout goal? [QUIZ]

Asked about his club’s ability to win in the shootout shortly after his club showed their inability to win in the shootout, John Tortorella was his usual, blunt self. “We suck at shootouts,” he said. “Yeah, we do.”

That’s not an unfair assessment of this year’s team. The Canucks are now 1-4 in the postgame coin toss this season, with just 2 goals on 18 attempts, and nobody scored Wednesday night as the club attempted to prevent their impressive seven-game win streak from being downgraded to a chintzy eight-game point streak.

Tortorella went on to suggest he might be switching up the rotation the next time around. “We’ve got to try different people, I guess, because we stink at it,” he said.

So negative, this guy. Here’s an idea instead of focusing on who didn’t score, focus on who did. Granted, that’s easier said than done when someone scores, but Tortorella could take our latest, infuriating Sporcle quiz, which lists all 28 guys that have scored a shootout goal for the Vancouver Canucks since the league introduced the new overtime format in 2005-06. Granted, that might make him angrier. It’s hard. Can you remember them all?

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