I Watched This Game: Canucks at Washington Capitals, March 14, 2014

I don’t really know how to describe this game, only to say that I haven’t seen anything like it for some time. In fact it’s been so long that my vocabulary that I might used to describe it has atrophied. It was…expediting? No, that’s not right. Exfoliating? Nope, that’s not it. Excited? Is that the word?

Exciting! That’s the one. It’s been a long time since I used that word in relation to the Canucks, but it fits this game. The Canucks buzzed around the offensive zone, created scoring chances, and actually capitalized on a few of them. It was bizarre. I mean, they didn’t win, of course. It wasn’t that bizarre. But it was still fun to watch.

I was — what’s the word? — entertained when I watched this game.

Continue Reading —›
What are realistic expectations for Dane Fox?

The conversation surrounding the Canucks has understandably shifted from the present to the future. That’s what happens when the team’s chances of making the playoffs have shrunk from slim to positively diaphanous. The Canucks are down to a 3.2% chance of making the postseason, according to Sports Club Stats, and fans have been looking to next season and beyond for nearly a month already.

Since there isn’t much to get excited about with the current roster, so it makes sense that fans would look to who might be on the roster in a coming season. In many ways, seeing a top prospect like Nicklas Jensen look like a legitimate top-six winger, at least when playing with top-end talent like Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows, is more satisfying right now than seeing the Canucks win.

Other prospects are also showing promise: Cole Cassels has produced some surprising offence, Bo Horvat has progressed well, Ben Hutton has received Hobey Baker consideration, and Frank Corrado is playing big minutes in all situations for the Comets. None of them, however, have produced the type of gaudy numbers that really catch the attention of the average fan.

One prospect has, however: undrafted free agent signing Dane Fox. The Erie Otters left wing has scored an eye-catching 62 goals and 101 points in 64 games. The one fairly massive caveat is that Fox is an over-age player — a 20-year-old playing against 17, 18, and 19-year-olds — and had never produced at better than a point-per-game prior to his over-age year. So what, realistically, can we expect from Fox?

Continue Reading —›
I Watched This Game: Canucks at Winnipeg Jets, March 12, 2014

Alex Burrows is such a terrible teammate. Having gone 35 games without scoring a single goal this season, Burrows chose to break his drought during Henrik Sedin’s 1000th career game, stealing the spotlight and making the game all about him. Selfish.

To make it even worse, Burrows scored two goals without allowing Henrik to tally an assist, despite playing on the top line with the Canucks captain. And you’ll notice that he scored two goals; why no assists, Burrows? Share the puck, Alex, this is a team game.

In fact, Burrows had a game-high 6 shots, while his other linemate, Nicklas Jensen, had just one, clearly because Burrows is such a puck-hog. Way to provide a toxic environment for the rookie, Burrows. Oh wait, I’m being sarcastic. Creating a toxic environment is a bad thing, Burr.

The final piece of evidence that Burrows was playing for the name on the back of his jersey rather than the logo on the front? He had the opportunity to score in the shootout and didn’t do it, obviously because it wouldn’t have counted for his points this season. He clearly just wanted to boost his personal statistics and didn’t care about getting his team the win. He was just out for number one, who was, in this case, number 14.

Alex Burrows is just the worst. I watched this game.

Continue Reading —›
The Week Ahead: John Tortorella versus Roberto Luongo

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 Canucks are on a road trip to Winnipeg, Washington, Sunrise, and Tampa Bay.

Continue Reading —›
Stick in Link: Canucks fans are a little bit peeved

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.)

Continue Reading —›
Nicklas Jensen to skate on the first line, because he’s actually scored recently

When Daniel Sedin was injured during the Heritage Classic, fans were understandably upset that Darren Archibald was called up from the Utica Comets rather than Nicklas Jensen, who was on a scoring tear. Why would the Canucks call up a bottom-six forward when a first-line forward is out of the lineup?

It wasn’t until Zack Kassian was suspended that Jensen got the call. Personally, I was okay with Jensen staying down in the AHL, as it’s better for his development to play top-line minutes with Utica than to play under 10-minutes per night. That’s assuming, of course, that he wouldn’t get top-line minutes in Vancouver, which seemed to be a safe assumption. Perhaps it’s the years of having Alain Vigneault, who was loath to use rookies in vital roles, as the Canucks head coach.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t liked many of John Tortorella’s decisions of late, but this one I do like: after a strong performance against the Calgary Flames that saw Jensen promoted up the ranks as the game progressed, Jensen will start on the first line with Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows against the New York Islanders tonight.

Continue Reading —›
Big Numbers: First line futility; Canucks on-pace for historic low

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.

Continue Reading —›
I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Calgary Flames, March 8, 2014

The last time the Canucks played the Flames, the game was marred by a linebrawl off the opening faceoff, a crazed John Tortorella attempting to bull rush his way into the Flames locker room during the first intermission, and a total of 188 penalty minutes.

For a moment, it looked like this game might start the same way, as Tom Sestito and Brian McGrattan lined up opposite each other for the opening faceoff and had words. Fortunately, those words appeared to be, “Good day to you, sir” and “God be with ye,” because the two players separated and did a novel thing: they played hockey. Imagine that.

I watched hockey players playing hockey when I watched this game.

Continue Reading —›
The Prospector: Nicklas Jensen, Alexandre Grenier, Dane Fox, and Cole Cassels

The Canucks have just 5 wins in 2014, but even as they were going on a massive losing streak heading into the Olympic break, they were still easily in the playoff picture. Sure, they were on the bubble, but all they needed was to come back from the break rejuvenated and ready to make a strong push to end the season and they were in.

Instead, the Canucks won one game, lost the next in the shootout, then dropped three straight in regulation, including losses to Phoenix and Dallas, both teams battling for the final wild card spot in the West. They’ve gone from being one point out of the playoffs to being four points out and in position for a top-ten pick at the 2014 entry draft.

It isn’t pretty and it has plenty of fans giving up on the current season and looking to the future. While we at PITB aren’t writing anything off just yet, we’re still going to take a look at that future, mainly because it’s nice to be positive about something related to the Canucks once in a while.

Continue Reading —›
Zack Kassian gets three-game break from having to play for the Canucks

When Zack Kassian is on his game, you can see the potential to be the power forward that Mike Gillis was banking on when he traded Cody Hodgson to get him. He uses his vision and skill to dish the puck, his quick wristshot to pick corners, and his big body to protect the puck and create space.

Here’s the problem: he’s not on his game very often. And sometimes, when he’s really off his game, he uses his big body in a far less intelligent way. That was the case on Thursday, when he hit Brendan Dillon square in the numbers, sending him face first into the boards in front of the Canucks bench. It was an ugly, stupid, entirely unnecessary hit. He definitely deserved to be punished.

That’s why it’s frustrating that the NHL chose to reward Kassian instead, allowing him to take a three-game vacation from having to play for John Tortorella and his frustrating, goal-starved Canucks. This is supposed to be a deterrent?

Continue Reading —›
I Watched This Game: Canucks at Dallas Stars, March 6, 2014

John Tortorella has a 5-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks.

I watched this game.

Continue Reading —›
Recapping the 2014 Trade Deadline

This day was supposed to go very differently for the Canucks. This was supposed to be the day the Canucks made a statement about their plans for the future. This was the day Ryan Kesler was supposed to get traded.

Don’t get me wrong: not everyone in the Canucks fanbase is going to be upset that Kesler is sticking around through the rest of the season. Apparently Jay Feaster thinks the Canucks should have traded Kesler, which, more than anything else, makes me think it was the right decision to hang onto him.

But with the Canucks’ season crashing and burning all around them, this seemed like the ideal time to admit defeat.

It didn’t happen.

Did you miss it not happening? Then PITB is here to help. We liveblogged the entire trade deadline from start to finish and now it acts as the perfect recap. For best results, start from the bottom. Otherwise, you’ll be confused by all the players somehow getting traded to their original teams.

Continue Reading —›
The Paper Feature: 10 crazy things the Canucks might do at the trade deadline

Today is the trade deadline and, for the first time in a long while, we might see some major deals in Vancouver. Not the awesome kind, mind you.

While the Canucks certainly still have a chance to make the playoffs, when you add Daniel Sedin’s injury in the Heritage Classic to the team’s goalscoring woes, things look awfully bleak. Thus, it would be perfectly understandable if the Canucks cut their losses and became big sellers at the deadline, retooling and rebuilding towards the future.

In that light, Ryan Kesler’s rumoured trade request is a blessing in disguise, giving Mike Gillis a perfect opportunity to break up the core of this team without becoming the villain in the same way Mike Keenan did when he traded Trevor Linden.

Kesler getting traded wouldn’t be the only crazy thing that could occur at the deadline, however, as the Canucks are in position to make major changes and set the team up for the future. It’s time for Mike Gillis to go whole-hog. Now is not the time to go half-hog, Gillis, or even three-quarter-hog.

Here are 10 crazy things we could see today, with the likelihood of each rated out of 5 Bob McKenzies.

Continue Reading —›
Roberto Luongo traded to Panthers, where he’ll join best bud Tim Thomas

This trade deadline wasn’t supposed to be about Roberto Luongo for the Canucks. That was last trade deadline. Have we gone back in time? If we did, let us all take a lesson from Back to the Future and stay away from our moms.

No one saw this coming. Well, except us. (We gloat because this rarely happens.) But other than us, no one saw this coming. Long after it seemed like Luongo was stuck in Vancouver for good, he was finally traded to where he wanted to go all along: Florida. He’ll join none other than Tim Thomas in net, forming the odd couple of goaltending tandems.

Continue Reading —›
Eddie Lack favourites haters on Twitter, continues to be the best

Eddie Lack got a lot of undeserved flak on Sunday afternoon during the Heritage Classic, bearing the brunt of fan outrage over John Tortorella’s decision to start him over Roberto Luongo. Sure, the jeers and boos weren’t really meant for him, but they were still directed at him, which likely feels about the same.

Lack handled the situation with his usual aplomb on Twitter, first taking a humorously passive-aggressive approach, then poking fun at himself. But that was just the public side of his Twitter persona. Taking a look at his favourites reveals some hidden hilarity.

Continue Reading —›
Stick in Link: Canucks acquire Costello, Heritage Classic fallout, and Kesler rumours

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 [...]

Continue Reading —›
I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Minnesota Wild, February 28, 2014

If you need proof that judging a goaltender by their wins and losses is incredibly stupid, you just have to look at Eddie Lack this season. He has a mediocre 9-8-4 record after this shootout loss to the Wild, but has a .925 save percentage and 2.05 goals against average. Over his last eight starts, he’s allowed more than one goal just twice, but has just two wins.

The Canucks have given Lack less support than the parents of an Art major. By my calculations, Lack should have about 734 wins by now. I think there might be something wrong with my calculator, actually. There’s also something wrong with me, because I watched this game.

Continue Reading —›
Spitballin’ on Tanev’s return and the Heritage Classic

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 —›
Pittsburgh Penguins reportedly made trade offer for Ryan Kesler

Ryan Kesler is expected to return to the lineup tonight against the Minnesota Wild, which won’t do anything to quiet the constant murmurs created by his rumoured trade request.

At this point, nothing will, especially after a little more fuel for this fire appeared this morning. According to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, at least one team made a serious attempt to acquire Ryan Kesler.

Continue Reading —›
Can the Canucks win without Kesler?

With their win over the St. Louis Blues Wednesday night, the Vancouver Canucks leapt back into the playoff picture, leapfrogging multiple teams to snag the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. Sure, there’s not one, but two teams just one point behind them with three games in hand, but for this brief moment, things are looking mildly rosy in Vancouver.

That’s what complicates the current situation with Ryan Kesler. For those still catching up, news broke Wednesday that Kesler had requested a trade at the beginning of the season. Sure, Mike Gillis, Kesler’s agent, and now Kesler himself have all denied it, but the report came from Louis Jean, one of the most reliable insiders around, and it’s in the Canucks’ best interests to deny the report. It’s hard to know who to believe.

Either way, as of right now, however, the Canucks are still in the playoff hunt and Kesler is still an integral part of the team. As much as it has now become clear that the Canucks are no longer a cup contender (though non-”contenders” have won the Stanley Cup before), it would be extremely surprising to see Gillis blow up the team, trading veterans for picks and prospects en route to a rebuild. Teams this close to making the playoffs are far more likely to stand pat at the trade deadline, making minor moves around the fringes to improve depth in key areas, such as the Dale Weise for Raphael Diaz trade.

With that said, there is an awful lot of smoke out there for the Kesler rumours to involve no fire whatsoever. So, if the Canucks do trade Kesler, what does that mean for this season? Can the Canucks win without Kesler?

Continue Reading —›
The Week Ahead: Post-Olympic home stand

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 brief home stand against the Blues, Wild, and Senators before heading to Phoenix.

Continue Reading —›
Stick in Link: LEGO Canucks, injured centres, and shootout practice

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.)

Continue Reading —›
Big Numbers: Roberto Luongo’s perfect Olympics, Team Canada’s dominance

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.

Continue Reading —›
I Watched This Gold Medal Game: Canada vs Sweden

For Team Canada, this was not the climax of their Olympic narrative. No, that came in the semifinal against Team USA, a 1-0 nail-biter that was a bounce away from going to overtime. This was just the denouement, with every storyline coming to a satisfying conclusion.

Sidney Crosby’s scoring struggles? Resolved. Carey Price in net over 2010 gold medal winner Roberto Luongo? Resolved. Chris Kunitz being anywhere near this team? Resolved. Most importantly, the tired storyline of whether Canada could win gold on the big ice was finally, thankfully resolved.

Also the storyline of whether I could get up early enough to watch this game. That was resolved when I watched this game.

Continue Reading —›
Canucks in Sochi: Four Canucks heading to the gold medal game

During the Olympics, Pass it to Bulis has transitioned to Pass it to Zamuner and will be going full bore with Team Canada coverage, including full I Watch This Game posts for each Team Canada game.

There are, however, other countries participating in the Olympics — I know, I’m surprised too — and several other countries feature Vancouver Canucks players and prospects. It’s only fitting, then, that we keep an eye on these players and how they’re performing in a feature we like to call “Canucks in Sochi.”

It’s guaranteed at this point that at least two Canucks will come home with gold medals, which is pretty neat. The big difference is that two of those Canucks have mad a major impact for their country, while the other two have barely played.

That’s at least four medals coming back to Vancouver, with a fifth to be decided in the bronze medal game. Not bad, Canucks, not bad at all.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger... Continue Reading —›