I Watched This Game: Canucks 3, Canadiens 2 (OT)

Last Saturday, I called this game against the Canadiens on All Hallows Eve Eve the game of the week, but it very easily could have been a horror show. After all, the Canadiens have been monstrous to start the season, with a frightening 8-2-0 record heading into this ghoulish game. The beasts of the East have owned October and looked eager to drain the lifeblood from the Canucks and their fans.

The Canucks, meanwhile, had yet to prove their early success wasn’t just a masquerade that would turn into a pumpkin at midnight. Would the Canadiens supernatural speed send them screaming? Would the Dale Weise trade come back to haunt them? How quickly would this game turn macabre? Would it be a monster mash or, worse, a graveyard smash? How much more forced can these Halloween references get?

It turned out that those fears, like the fear of poisoned candy, were completely overblown. The Canucks managed to prove their early season record was no trick and it was a real treat when I watched this game.

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Canucks games are getting goals fast thanks to this one weird trick

On Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, Zack Kassian sprung Brad Richardson on a partial breakaway early in the first period. Richardson kicked the puck up to his stick, settled it on his forehand, and roofed it over Cam Ward’s glove hand. It was the Canucks’ first shot of the game.

The weird thing is that this is not the least bit unusual, which is a bit of an oxymoron. In over half of the Canucks’ games so far this season, one of the teams has scored on their very first shot of the game.

That’s odd, right? Can we all agree that’s odd?

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Stick in Link: Chris Tanev is good, has good hair

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 Pass it to Bulis Podcast, Episode 8: Passing Judgement and Ben Affleck

The Canucks season is currently in a weird limbo state. We’re far enough in that it seems like we’re seeing trends that will dictate how the entire season will play out, but it’s still far too early to pass judgement on the team.

Daniel and Harrison talk about some of the early season oddities — like the Nashville Predators being first in the Central Division, the Calgary Flames being sort of okay, and the Colorado Avalanche being a big old mess — and what to make of the Canucks suffering two blowout losses in their first seven games.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 4, Capitals 2

There are certain things that Canucks fans firmly believe about their team, even though they have no real proof of those beliefs being true. Two of those beliefs are as follows: the Canucks always make mediocre goaltenders look like Vezina-calibre all-stars and the Canucks are on the receiving end of an above-average number of first career goals, if not the most in the NHL. If you’re a struggling goaltender or a rookie skater, you want to visit Vancouver, where you’re sure to make multiple miraculous saves or pot your first NHL goal and pose for a picture with the puck after the game.

Are these beliefs true? Do the Canucks make bad goaltenders look good more than other NHL teams? Do they give up more first career NHL goals than other teams? I suspect not. But it sure feels true.

So, when the Canucks peppered Capitals keeper Justin Peters in the first period but couldn’t put the puck past him, it just seemed like confirmation of what we already knew to be true. Even after the Canucks took the lead, they gave up a goal to 20-year-old rookie Liam O’Brien: his first NHL goal. It seemed inevitable: the Canucks would surely lose because of another firmly held belief about this season’s Canucks, that they can’t beat good teams.

My beliefs crumbled to pieces when I watched this game.

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Game of the Week: Canucks vs Canadiens, October 30th

The Canucks have three games this week and it wasn’t an easy decision for Game of the Week. Sunday features an all-too rare visit to Vancouver from Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, the only time we’ll get to see him at Rogers Arena this season.

Tuesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes doesn’t seem overly exciting, but it’s a chance for Henrik Sedin and Alex Edler to complete a set. Henrik has scored a goal and Edler has tallied a point against every NHL team apart from the Hurricanes (and the Canucks, of course). All they need is one goal by Henrik assisted by Edler and they can retire from the NHL in good conscience.

But the game of the week won’t come until Thursday, when the Montreal Canadiens are in town.

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Real Good Tweets starring @alexlovesburrs and happy former Canucks

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

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Canucks of the Week, starring Justin Bourne, Willie Desjardins, and the Comets

Canucks of the Week, written by Kevin Vanstone, examines who and what is keeping hockey in Vancouver interesting these days. That’s right: who and what. It need not only be players. After all, we are all Canucks. All people, places, things, abstract concepts, ideas, emotions — if it’s a noun, proper or common, it’s a Canuck, and it’s eligible to be a Canuck of the week.

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Bo goes pro, but Markstrom steals show in Comets home opener

I hadn’t watched any AHL games this season — I honestly do miss having the Abbotsford Heat in town — but I made an exception for Bo Horvat’s first professional game. Horvat made his debut Wednesday night for the Utica Comets thanks to his pre-season shoulder injury. Without that injury, it would be the NHL or OHL for Horvat, but his recuperation allowed him to head to Utica on a conditioning assignment.

Horvat and the Comets faced the former Heat, who are now the Adirondack Flames. Whatever the name, the Comets continued their dominance of Calgary’s farm team. The star of the game, however, wasn’t the 18-year-old centre, who played mainly on the fourth line, or even one of the Canucks’ other highly-touted forward prospects. Instead, Jacob Markstrom, the much-maligned young goaltender, was the standout star.

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Big Numbers: Vrbata shoots, Bieksa leads, Tanev gets hit

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 Prospector: Virtanen, McCann, and Subban make Super Series rosters

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 look at the Canucks prospects set to play in the Subway Super Series, Jordan Subban’s goalscoring ability, Cole Cassels’ outstanding week, and a few of the Canucks’ prospects in the ECHL.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 3, Stars 6

Last time Willie Desjardins was in Texas, he was lifting the Calder Cup as head coach of the AHL champion Texas Stars. His return did not end nearly as well. I would say it was the exact opposite of winning the Calder Cup, but that would be losing a bent, dirty spoon. As poorly as things went, at least the Canucks didn’t lose a spoon.

The best thing that could be said about this game is that at least it was short. This game effectively ended just over a minute into the second period, when the Stars went up 5-0 and Ryan Miller finally, mercifully, was pulled. That’s it, game over.

That also means the Canucks and Stars played a second game that they dominated and won 3-1. I wish I had only watched that game. Instead, I watched this game.

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16 surprising facts from the Canucks’ media guide

The Canucks’ media guide is a great tool for writers covering the team, laying out all sorts of information about the team and its history, both important and trivial.

If Nick Bonino scores a hattrick, for instance, a beat reporter can easily find out that it’s the second hattrick of his career, that his first came against the Los Angeles Kings on February 2nd, 2013, and that a good way to liven up his lede about Bonino’s great game would be to mention his love for Luke Bryan and suggest that Bonino could be heard saying, “I Don’t Want This Night to End.”

Most of the information available in the media guide is available elsewhere online, but it’s nice to have it all in one place. It’s also astonishingly comprehensive, listing every player to don a Canucks jersey, along with every draft pick, trade, and team award and record, not to mention every single overtime or shootout game, every penalty shot, and every shutout.

It’s easy to get lost in all the information, but here are some of the most surprising facts that jumped out at me from the 2014-15 Canucks media guide. It made sense, what with Trevor Linden taking over as Team President, to list 16.

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The PITB Podcast, Episode 7: First Loss and Jump Scares

Tragedy! The Canucks lost their first game of the season on the weekend, which means everything is awful, right? Actually, Daniel and Harrison are still feeling pretty positive about the team, even after the loss to the Lightning.

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New Van Fan, Season 3: The Labyrinth

With a new Canucks season underway, that means it’s time a new season of New Van Fan, though it should be noted that Andreas, the titular new Canucks fan, has now been through the highs and lows of two full Canucks seasons. In his first season as a Canucks fan, they won the Northwest Division and got swept in the first round of the playoffs. In his second, the team fell apart at the seams thanks to a coach that didn’t fit, leading to said coach and the GM getting fired.

Basically, Andreas has experienced the full range of Canucks fandom and has, perhaps, graduated from being a new Canucks fan to, say, a sophomore Canucks fan. Amateur Canucks fan? Dilettante Canucks fan?

After such a disastrous year for the Canucks, it looks like New Van Fan is undergoing a reboot of sorts. The first episode is darker, grittier, and more psychologically tense than past episodes.

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The Paper Feature: Canucks must hunt for October in the red

Expectations were low in Canuck-land heading into this season. With last year’s clustercuss of a season and all the off and on-ice upheaval in the summer, even suggesting that the Canucks might make the playoffs seemed crazily optimistic.

That seemed safest, really: the lower the expectations, the less likely you’ll be disappointed. That’s why I threw out all my sons’ “Future Rock Star” shirts and made them custom “Future Street Musician” onesies.

The Canucks, however, seem intent on raising expectations with their early performance. The Sedins look like their old selves, which is to say, they look like their young selves. The power play appears rejuvenated with the addition of Radim Vrbata and Linden Vey. Alex Burrows scored on his first shot this season instead of having his foot broken by the first shot he blocked. It’s hard not to be excited.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 2, Oilers 0

This was a lose/lose situation for the Canucks. They came into Edmonton to face a team that had yet to record a win this season, was averaging more than 5 goals against per game, and was essentially falling apart at the seams. Failing to defeat this sad-sack Oilers team would be disastrous, but beating them would prove nothing.

At the same time, losing was a very real possibility. The Canucks were stale after a six-day break, while the Oilers were like a hungry dog that would devour anything, no matter how stale. The Oilers are already desperate and desperate teams are dangerous. Some fans were upset that the Canucks needed overtime to beat the Oilers on Saturday; imagine if the Canucks actually lost.

Fortunately, in this lose/lose situation, the Canucks lost, but didn’t literally lose. Instead, they won. I watched them win/lose when I watched this game.

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Canucks prototype jersey shows up on eBay, reveals a dodged bullet

It would be an understatement to say the Canucks have had a troubled jersey history. The franchise has completely changed jersey colours multiple times, have had four different logos — although calling the Flying-V a logo is a stretch — and no one seems to agree on what the best jersey would be.

Some fans want a return of Johnny Canucks as the primary logo, harkening back to the team’s pre-NHL days. Others want to see the skate logo, aka. the spaghetti plate, come back thanks to their nostalgia for the early 90′s. Some like the current colours, but want to get rid of the “VANCOUVER” arced across the top of the orca logo. Some want to keep the colours, but use the alternate third jersey that uses the stick-in-rink logo as the primary jersey.

Heck, I still like the Flying-V jerseys, though sometimes I feel like I’m the only one.

That said, I think we can all agree that we and the Canucks dodged a massive bullet, since they didn’t go with the prototype jersey that popped up in a recent eBay auction.

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Stick in Link: Pearn’s power play, Hamhuis hits hard

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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Horvat back practicing; where does he fit in the lineup?

The current five-day break between game days is torture for Canucks fans, who are eager to see their team continue their winning ways. It’s definitely a bit of a wacky way to start the season. The Boston Bruins will have played 6 games before the Canucks even get to their third. Considering the way they’ve started the season, they may be wishing they had a five-day break instead.

It has been very useful, however, for Bo Horvat, who is back practicing with the team after his pre-season injury and has only missed two games because of the odd schedule. Earlier this week, Willie Desjardins said that he expects Horvat to be back by the weekend, which could mean he gets in the lineup as early as Friday against the Edmonton Oilers or Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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The Prospector: Cassels, McCann, and Forsling off to great start

The Prospector is a semi-regular feature on Pass it to Bulis where we pan the Canucks prospects pool in search of gold. This time around, we look at Cole Cassels, Jared McCann, and Gustav Forsling.

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The PITB Podcast, Episode 6: First Impressions and Leonard Cohen

The Canucks are off to a 2-0 start, which has Vancouver optimistic and hopeful for the first time in a while. Sure, those first two wins have come against the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, but the new Canucks coaching staff is making a good first impression on the fanbase.

We talk about those first two games, the experience of coming together to watch hockey with strangers, the systematic differences between Willie Desjardins and John Tortorella, and constantly go completely off-topic. Also, Harrison talks about Leonard Cohen and “Hallelujah.”

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Burrows’ assist on Bonino’s goal was not a hand pass

The Canucks have been getting their fair share of breaks to start the season, including a string of 7 consecutive power plays against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night. But there was one other break that had Oilers’ fans crying foul and several hockey blogs buzzing.

On Nick Bonino’s second period goal that reduced the Canucks’ deficit to 3-to-2, it was readily apparent that the puck went off Alex Burrows’ glove before it was collected by Dan Hamhuis and sent towards the net for the tip-in. As fans, we expect that kind of play to be immediately blown dead for a hand pass. Instead, play continued and the goal counted.

Was it the wrong call? Should the score have remained at 3-1? If so, could the Canucks have still come back to win or would they have dropped their home opener, leading to mass hysteria in Canucks nation and a massive over-correction from the coaching staff to dead puck era, trapping hockey?

No. It wasn’t the wrong call because it wasn’t a hand pass according to the NHL rulebook.

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

This game alone was more exciting than the entire 2013-14 season. It was high-flying, defence-be-damned, entertaining hockey. There were fights — non-staged fights! — hits, goals, saves, controversy, an entirely-too-intense overtime period, and even a shootout for you heathens out there that enjoy that kind of thing.

But the real highlight of this game — the thing that made watching it completely worthwhile — was the Dry Scrape. For the first time this season, we got to see the zambonis come on the ice before overtime, rather than before the shootout, and scrape the ice clean without flooding it so that it didn’t need time to freeze. Truly a momentous occasion.

It was a privilege to witness such an historic event when I watched this game.

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Game of the Week: Canucks vs Oilers, October 11th

The Canucks play just two games between now and next Saturday morning, which doesn’t give us a lot of choice for our first ever “Game of the Week.” Should we choose this game against the Oilers or that game against the Oilers? So many options!

With no difference in the opponents, we’ll have to go with everything else surrounding the game, which makes it a clear decision. The Game of the Week has to be the home opener tonight, the first Saturday night game of the season, nationally televised on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.

Or, more appropriately, Rogers’ Hockey Night in Canada. Rogers paid out $5.2 billion for exclusive national broadcast rights of the NHL in Canada for the next 12 years, but kept the Saturday night broadcast on CBC.

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