Kevin Bieksa threw a Flames glove over the glass after Game 2 fracas (or maybe not)

Kevin Bieksa has a bit of a history when it comes to mistreating equipment. Back in 2012, he tried to intervene in a tussle between Cal Clutterbuck and Dan Hamhuis by chucking his glove at Clutterbuck, earning him a penalty and sending him deep into our gif tournament during the lockout.

Last season, he took out his frustrations after a loss to the New York Rangers on Brian Boyle, then yanked Boyle’s helmet off his head and punted it down the ice.

Bieksa likely wished he was on the ice when Game 2 devolved into a line brawl, but instead Sbisa and Hamhuis were the makeshift defensive pair, as Yannick Weber had previously received a 10-minute misconduct (wait, what?). Bieksa was left cleaning up the mess afterward, helping clear the ice of discarded equipment. That’s when he decided to take out his frustration at not being able to drop the gloves with anyone by dropping someone else’s glove over the glass.

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The Paper Feature: The Canucks were never going to sweep

Any Canucks fan dreaming of a sweep over the Flames was bitterly disappointed by the third period of game 1. I mean, every Canucks fan must have been bitterly disappointed watching the Flames score two third period goals, including the winner in the final minute, to steal home ice advantage, but especially those dreaming of a sweep.

It was understandable why some would hope for a sweep. If the Canucks could take care of the Flames quickly while the Jets and Ducks beat each other up in the other Pacific Division matchup, the Canucks could have a worn-out opponent in the second round. Some might have looked at the Flames youth and inexperience and expected the pressure of the playoffs to overwhelm them.

Or perhaps you bought into the rise of advanced statistics this past season, found out that the Flames were one of the worst puck possession teams at 5-on-5 this season, and thought the Flames’ luck would run out just in time to get the brooms out.

But the Canucks were never going to sweep the Flames in the first round and it has a lot less to do with the Flames than it does the Canucks.

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Kris Russell crosschecks Nick Bonino in head; will anyone care?

The Canucks got off to a great start in game 2 against the Flames, out-shooting them 13-3 in the first period and, more importantly, out-scoring them 2-0. It was about as dominant a period as the Canucks played all season and a wave of positivity swept through Canucks fandom.

Then that wave crashed on the rocks of a pretty dumb play by Kris Russell and a little negativity snuck back in.

Right as Chris Higgins scored the Canucks second goal, Russell came down with his stick on the back of Nick Bonino’s head at the side of the net. It bore a strong similarity to a play by Dustin Byfuglien near the end of the regular season that earned the Jets’ defenceman a 4-game suspension. Will Russell get a similar suspension? Will he get any suspension at all?

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Stick in Link: Canucks have lost one-straight, will keep rolling four lines

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 three times a week. 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, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Willie Desjardins needs to take a page from John Tortorella

It’s pretty clear that Willie Desjardins didn’t watch PITB’s parody video of “No Diggity” before game 1, because he missed out on what, in retrospect, was some pretty good advice. At the end of the first verse is the line “Put the twins on so we can win.” In the third period, Desjardins barely put the twins on the ice. The Canucks lost.

In a tight, one-goal game, the Sedins played under five minutes each in the third period, limiting the impact of the team’s best players at the most crucial point of the game. Meanwhile, the team’s top three defencemen, Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, and Dan Hamhuis, all played below their average ice time during the regular season.

There’s a certain wisdom in continuing to play the same style in the postseason that brought you success in the regular season and the Canucks need to be a four-line team with balanced ice time and scoring, but sometimes Desjardins could stand to borrow from John Tortorella’s favourite strategy: ride your horses.

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Ask it to Bulis: Will Ryan Miller be traded?

It’s time once more for Ask it to Bulis, where two incredibly intelligent, witty, handsome, and humble bloggers answer your questions about life, the universe, and everything, but mostly the Vancouver Canucks. Side effects include enlightenment, rationality, and globophobia.

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Brad Richardson for Linden Vey is not a defensive upgrade

The key to stopping the Calgary Flames, pundits have said, will be shutting down their top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Jiri Hudler. The line combined for 86 goals this season, over a third of the Flames’ scoring, with the bulk of Calgary’s secondary scoring coming from their defence.

The question on the minds of many, then, has been which line will be assigned this all-important shutdown task, and to that end, fans rejoiced when Brad Richardson returned to practice, skating on a line with Shawn Matthias and Derek Dorsett.

Would Richardson’s defensive prowess earn him this tough assignment? No, for two reasons: the first is that Willie Desjardins doesn’t really line match. At least, he didn’t do so during the regular season, preferring to roll four lines and let the chips fall where they may, with chips one through four all seeing superstar lines, and there’s little reason to expect him to change his strategy.

The second is that Richardson is not really a defensive upgrade on Linden Vey.

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Canucks vs Flames: Who are the experts picking?

It’s that time of year, when anyone remotely associated with hockey is asked one question: “Who’s going to win?” It’s also, unfortunately, a pretty meaningless question. No one knows and even the predictions of hockey experts are no better than that of an animal (monkey, octopus, or adorable puppy) picking randomly.

If we could answer the question, you wouldn’t really want to know. That’s like watching The Usual Suspects knowing all along that Verbal Kint is Keyser Soze. It ruins the whole thing. Also, sorry for ruining The Usual Suspects.

Heck, Bob McKenzie, who is basically the platonic ideal of “hockey expert” at this point, refuses to make predictions, because he feels it influences how he covers a series as a journalist, pulling for the team he predicted to win, if only to salvage his own reputation. But many other hockey experts, journalists, and other media types have made predictions, and we’re going to round them up, along with a choice quote from their series previews. Take note of these predictions for once the series is over, so you can laugh at the people who were wrong and conveniently ignore the people who were right.

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The PITB Podcast, Episode 29: Playoff Preview and the Common Cold

The Canucks are back in the playoffs and facing an old rival in the Calgary Flames. This year, the playoffs feel wide open, with no prohibitive favourite to win the Stanley Cup, giving Canucks fans hope that they can defy the odds and go on a long playoff run.

In order to do so, they’ll have to get past the Flames in the first round. Daniel and Harrison preview that series, but also discuss the Canucks’ final game of the regular season, a high-scoring, pre-season-like affair that made it pretty clear that Ryan Miller won’t be starting in the playoffs.

They also touch on the rest of the NHL, making their picks for the Eastern and Western Conference Finals, as well as the Stanley Cup Final, and take issue with Tim Murray firing Ted Nolan in Buffalo.

Before all that, they talk about the common cold, because Daniel has one. What’s your least favourite cold symptom?

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What do advanced statistics say about the Canucks and Flames first round matchup?

Advanced statistics aren’t everyone’s cup of tea; many hockey fans prefer beer or coffee, for instance. I mean, you could steep tea in beer or coffee — and people do — but that seems pretty gross to me. And, for some fans, mixing in advanced statistics into their hockey is just as gross.

For others, however, advanced statistics impart an intriguing new flavour to their enjoyment of hockey. I find their most important contribution is providing perspective — a dose of realism to keep you from getting too high or too low during the roller coaster of the season — but they’re also useful for predictions.

There’s a reason why believers in advanced statistics weren’t surprised when the 8th-seed Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012: their underlying possession statistics pegged them as one of the best teams in the league. They’re not perfect, however, as the Kings were once again one of the best possession teams in the NHL, but missed the playoffs largely because they were 3-15 in overtime and the shootout, the worst post-regulation record in the league. Advanced statistics can’t really account for something like that.

With that caveat in mind, let’s look at what advanced statistics have to say about the Canucks’ first round matchup with the Calgary Flames.

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Really Big Numbers: Regular season wrap-up and playoff preview

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.

In this very special episode, it’s Really Big Numbers, breaking down some of the biggest numbers of the regular season

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Game of the Week: Game 1 vs the Calgary Flames

The Vancouver Canucks just played 82 games of regular season hockey and Canucks fans can’t take it anymore. Fortunately, then, the game of the week isn’t a regular season hockey game. The Canucks will be kicking off the post-season with game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday at Rogers Arena. Everything has been leading to this point.

The two teams are remarkably evenly matched, splitting the season series at two games apiece, with all four games decided by one goal, notwithstanding Henrik Sedins’s empty net goal in their first meeting of the season. Their win-loss records are nearly identical. The Canucks are the better possession team, but the Flames have team speed and finishers galore.

There’s history, of course, between the two teams, as they have met in the postseason six times before. The last three series between these teams were decided in overtime of game seven. Four of the six times they’ve met, the winner of the series has gone on to appear in the Stanley Cup Final.

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Real Good Tweets, starring @jocelynaspa’s perfect Oilers tweet

You folks made some good tweets last week. Some real good tweets.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 5, Coyotes 0

Let’s face it: with the Canucks clinching a playoff berth on Tuesday, this game just didn’t feel all that important. At most, home ice advantage in the playoffs was on the line, which just doesn’t tie up your innards as much as the playoffs themselves being on the line.

What was happening elsewhere in the league made this game recede even further. Over in the Eastern Conference, Roberto Luongo and the Panthers upset the Bruins, while the Senators shutout the Presidents Trophy-winning Rangers, who were resting players for the postseason. That means the Bruins are at risk of missing the playoffs, which I wouldn’t mind one bit.

More importantly, here in the Western Conference, the Kings played the Flames for their playoff lives. The game took place at the same time, more or less, as the Canucks game and provided enough innards-tying for both games. The Flames were up 2-0 heading into the third, but the Kings pulled within one in short order, then pressed hard for the equalizer, firing 14 shots on net in the third period. They couldn’t do it. The Kings are dead and the Canucks will face the Flames in the first round of the playoffs.

I had one eye on the out-of-town scoreboard as I watched this game.

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Big Numbers: Dorsett and Sbisa by the numbers; balanced scoring equals playoff payoff

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.

Statistics are gathered from,,,,, and elsewhere.

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Canucks sign Sbisa and Dorsett to terrible three and four-year extensions

When Jim Benning re-signed Chris Tanev to a long-term extension, the praise was unanimous. Everyone likes Tanev, from the fanciest of fancy statters to those who decry advanced statistics as ruining the game. Tanev’s quiet, calm game both looks good on the ice and translates to his underlying numbers. He’s a player everyone can love.

Today, Benning gave out contract extensions to Luca Sbisa and Derek Dorsett. The acclaim won’t be anywhere near as universal.

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The PITB Podcast, Episode 28: Dethroning Kings and Pitch Perfect

The Canucks defeated the Kings in a crucial game on Monday night, potentially leaving the defending Stanley Cup Champions outside of the playoffs. It was close and hard-fought, proving that the Canucks can compete with the Kings if they do end up meeting in the first round.

We break down the game, including Daniel Sedin’s gametying goal off an incredible pass by Henrik Sedin and their performance in general. We also talk about the surprising Yannick Weber, who hasn’t received the praise he’s due for how well he’s played. Then we get into the implications for the playoff picture, with the Flames and Kings playing what may be a deciding game on Thursday, and talk about the goaltending situation, with Eddie Lack playing great hockey and Ryan Miller trying to get back in time for the playoffs.

We also find time to talk about Furious 7, Lethal Weapon, Kenan Thompson, and Kyle Wellwood. Before all that, however, we talk about the movie Pitch Perfect for basically no reason whatsoever.

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Stick in Link: Eddie Lack’s on top of his toes, Bo Horvat has earned trust

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, 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 4, Jets 5

The Winnipeg Jets played some desperate hockey in this game and it’s understandable why. The Jets entered the game tied at 90 points with the Los Angeles Kings for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference, with the Kings holding the tiebreaker.

So, when the Jets came out flying like, er, jets, in the first period, the Canucks, who have struggled with their starts for most of the season, couldn’t keep pace. The Jets jumped out to a quick two-goal lead and the Canucks were chasing for the rest of the game.

On the plus side, there is now a greater probability that the Kings miss the playoffs, putting the puck largely in the Canucks hands as they face the Kings on Monday. Depending on other results, the Canucks could clinch the playoffs and keep the Kings on the outside looking in.

I saw silver linings when I watched this game.

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The Paper Feature: Alex Burrows is the scum/salt of the earth

Alex Burrows is the scum of the earth: a dirty, headhunting, moustache-twirling villain, who only leaves his secret volcano-island lair to bite fingers, pull hair, or, worse, embellish a penalty. He’s exactly the type of player the NHL wants out of the game.

Alex Burrows is the salt of the earth: a hard-working, blue-collar player, who battled his way up from being an undrafted ECHLer all the way to the top line of a Presidents’ Trophy winner. He’s the buster of slumps and the slayer of dragons. The NHL could use more players like him.

How can one player inspire such opposing reactions?

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Canucks call up Sven Baertschi; where does he fit in the lineup?

Ever since the Canucks acquired Sven Baertschi from the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline, he has been tearing things up with the Utica Comets. Baertschi was once the most highly hyped prospect in the Flames organization and his hot start in Utica has earned him some fresh hype.

The 22-year-old winger has 7 goals and 13 points in 12 games with the Comets, so it’s understandable that the Canucks would want to see what he can do with the Canucks. But where does he fit? What line does he play on? Who comes out of the lineup?

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Stick in Link: Matthias fine with fourth line, Comets clinch, and Desjardins demands discipline

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, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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The Prospector: Hunter’s on a hot streak; McCann and Cassels lead the way in CHL playoffs

The Prospector is a semi-regular feature on Pass it to Bulis where we pan the Canucks prospects pool in search of gold.

In this edition, we talk about Hunter Shinkaruk’s goalscoring streak, Joe Cannata’s opportunity with the Utica Comets, and check in on every Canucks prospect in the CHL playoffs.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 5, Predators 4 (SO)

Let’s get this out of the way right of the top: this game was very poorly refereed. The Canucks got dinged for 39 minutes in penalties, giving the Predators 7 power plays, including a late 5-minute major on Alex Burrows that saw both him and Kevin Bieksa tossed from the game with misconducts.

Meanwhile, Radim Vrbata got hit from behind face first into the dasher by Seth Jones and Filip Forsberg got his stick in Eddie Lack’s mask, with no call on either play. It was infuriating and frustrating, partly because it adds more fuel for those stoking the conspiracy fire. At some point you have to let that thing burn down to embers to properly roast marshmallows.

Yes, there were some soft and some missed calls, but the Canucks also need to be more disciplined even if — especially if — referees really are looking to call penalties on them. Kevin Bieksa hit Viktor Stalberg in the head completely unnecessarily. Henrik took a brutal tripping penalty in the neutral zone, then made no effort to avoid Pekka Rinne on a goaltender interference call, even if he was pushed. Ronalds Kenins punched a player in the face after a goal. Radim Vrbata had no business getting his stick into Roman Josi’s hands in the neutral zone, even if Josi embellished the hook by spinning to the ice.

And yes, Burrows definitely intentionally interfered with Paul Gaustad, even if the resulting 5-minute major and game misconduct was far too harsh. The Canucks have to be more disciplined and can’t use the reffing as an excuse.

Or maybe I have this all wrong: perhaps the Canucks are simply preparing for the playoffs, where whistles tend to get swallowed. You can’t simply flip a switch and start taking liberties as soon as the playoffs start; you have to practice going over the line. so that when penalties stop being called, you can keep committing them.

I watched this game.

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Vrbata scores more with Bonino than with the Sedins

It’s undeniable at this point: Radim Vrbata was one of the best, if not the best, free agent signings of the 2014 off-season. The veteran winger leads the Canucks in goalscoring by 13 goals, turning in the second 30+ goal season of his career. He’s also third on the team in points, just 6 points behind Henrik Sedin, has given the power play a massive boost from last season, and is just a few points away from a career year.

He’s been particularly on fire since the beginning of March, with 18 points in 15 games. He has 11 points in his last 6 games alone. What’s been remarkable, then, is that he’s doing it largely without the Sedins. He was presumably lured to Vancouver by the prospect of playing with the twins on the top line, but he hasn’t been on that line for a while, instead slumming it on what is ostensibly the second line with Nick Bonino and, usually, Chris Higgins.

Heck, depending on the night, Vrbata might not even be the second line, since Desjardins rolls his lines and gives more ice time to whichever line seems to be clicking. At one point Ronalds Kenins was having a poor game and was taken off of his line with Bo Horvat and Jannik Hansen and put with Vrbata and Bonino. This was seen as a demotion.

Getting bumped from the first line may have been a blessing in disguise: he’s been far more productive with Bonino than he has been with the Sedins.

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