Stick in Link: Canucks line up Pat Quinn tribute for St. Patrick’s Day

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 PITB Podcast, Episode 25: Doomed Millionaires and Assumed Foursomes

Both times the Canucks have worn their throwback Vancouver Millionaires jerseys, they have suffered embarrassing losses, including the stain of the 2014 Heritage Classic. And yet, the Canucks will be wearing them again next week, this time honouring the 100th anniversary of the Millionaires’ Stanley Cup victory.

We discuss this decision, but also talk about the Canucks’ recent victory over the Leafs, who the Canucks’ unsung hero has been this season, and breakdown the best and worst-case scenarios for potential playoff match-ups, assuming the Canucks hold on to a playoff spot.

Before all that, however, Harrison tells a weird story his friend told him about social awkwardness and bad assumptions.

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Real Good Tweets, featuring @ThomasDrance redefining Ducks

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

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 0, Kings 4

There’s a tendency, with losses like these, to say, “Just throw it in the trash, let it go, and move on to the next game,” but the Canucks can’t afford to do that with this game.

This was the Canucks’ third loss to the Kings this season and they’ve been held to fewer than 20 shots each time. They have two more meetings with the Kings remaining, with the Kings just a point back of the Canucks in the Pacific Division and a threat to knock them out of the playoffs. It’s more likely, however, that both the Kings and Canucks make the playoffs and meet in the first round.

That makes it essential to keep this game, hot garbage though it may have been, out of the trash. They need to remember this game because they need to analyze it and their two other losses to the Kings and figure out just what is going wrong. For whatever reason, the Canucks don’t match up well against the Kings and, with 2-9 games remaining against them, they need to know why.

I also need to know why: why I watched this game.

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Big Numbers: Bo Horvat leads large cohort of Canucks rookies

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 NHL.com, War-on-Ice.com, Puckalytics.com, HockeyAnalysis.com, BehindtheNet.ca, and elsewhere.

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The Prospector: Sven Baertschi says buongiorno to Utica

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, Sven Baertschi makes a good first impression, Alexandre Grenier is running out of time, Cole Cassels will run you over, and Jared McCann has a broken finger.

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What’s the deal with Brandon McMillan?

It sounds like the setup to a bad joke, the kind Jerry Seinfeld would skewer, but it’s simply been a source of confusion for Canucks fans? What is the deal with Brandon McMillan? Why did the Canucks claim him off waivers? Why does he continue to get ice time over, at first, Zack Kassian and, more recently, Ronalds Kenins?

It seems plainly obvious to fans that McMillan contributes very little on the ice: in 6 games with the Canucks so far, he has no points, 5 shots on goal, and is averaging around 11 minutes per game. And yet, Willie Desjardins keeps putting him in the lineup. He was even waived at one point and cleared, but didn’t get sent to Utica. What is he seeing that we’re not?

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 2, Ducks 1

Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie EDDIE EDDIE EDDIE EDDIE EDDIE EDDIE EDDIE EDDIE EDDIE EDDIE EDDIE EDDIE EDDIE

I watched this game.

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The PITB Podcast, Episode 24: Tanev’s Return and Starter Pokemon

Arguably the most devastating injury of the Canucks’ season was to Chris Tanev, whose steadying presence on the top pairing with Alex Edler has been sorely missed. Thankfully, he is returning to the lineup and should make a significant impact as the Canucks push to make the playoffs.

We discuss Tanev and the rest of the defence, including the way Yannick Weber filled in for injuries and Luca Sbisa’s decision-making. We then touch on Willie Desjardins’ vocabulary, Ryan Kesler’s article in The Players’ Tribune about his trade out of Vancouver, and whether it was good that the Canucks lost to the Buffalo Sabres and the Arizona Coyotes.

Before all that, however, we talk about which starter Pokemon is their favourite. This is the most important conversation we have ever had on this podcast.

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The Canucks’ injuries on defence could be a lot worse

Yannick Weber left Saturday’s game against the Sharks after getting crushed into the boards. He lost his balance a moment before the hit and was unable to protect himself. To my untrained eyes, it looked like a left shoulder injury, but the Canucks have yet to report on his exact injury.

It’s the latest in a string of injuries for the Canucks on defence, though this one comes at a slightly better time, with Chris Tanev expected to return Monday night against the Ducks.

The Canucks sorely missed Tanev, as well as Alex Edler, who returned last Thursday. The two defencemen have consistently been the Canucks’ best pairing, playing tough minutes and coming out ahead in possession, so losing both of them at the same time, along with Kevin Bieksa, who hasn’t played since January 20th, had a major impact. While the Canucks have been inconsistent of late, with some sketchy defensive efforts, they should be lauded for holding up as well as they have with three of their top-four defencemen out of the lineup.

It made me wonder when was the last time the Canucks faced such a tough string of injuries on defence and my mind immediately turned to one of the most disappointing Canucks’ seasons in recent memory. No, not last season, but the 2007-08 season, when the Canucks finished last in the Northwest Division, missing the playoffs, leading to the firing of Dave Nonis.

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Paper Feature: Ronalds Kenins is an invitee success story for the Canucks

Ronalds Kenins has been a surprise success for the Canucks this season, stepping into a lineup decimated by injuries and immediately finding chemistry with fellow rookie Bo Horvat. The general feeling is that he came out of nowhere, but that’s not exactly true; we know exactly where he came from.

Every summer, after the NHL draft has taken place, the Canucks hold their annual development camp, bringing in their newest draft picks and other prospects to Vancouver to introduce them to the organization and give them some direction for their off-season training.

Along with the signed and/or drafted prospects, the Canucks always invite a few undrafted players to participate in the camp to get a better look at players they have scouted but aren’t sure about just yet. Every so often, one of those invitees will catch the eye of management and earn a contract or, at the very least, an invitation to the prospect camp at the end of the summer.

Every year, Canucks fans raise the question: does anything ever come of these invitees? Do any of them ever even reach the NHL?

After this season, no one should be asking these questions, as Ronalds Kenins was one of those invitees and hasn’t just made the NHL, but has excelled and earned what should be a permanent spot in the lineup. His success brings to mind another former invitee, one who the Canucks let slip through their fingers before he had success elsewhere: Antoine Roussel.

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Ryan Kesler opens up about trade request from the Canucks, sort of

If you listened closely when the trade deadline passed, you could hear the collective sigh of relief from players around the league who were rumoured to be on the trading block. “Still here:)” Eddie Lack happily tweeted after the deadline passed, though “happily” is redundant. Zack Kassian asked reporters multiple times throughout the day if he had been traded, knowing that those with eyes on their smart phones would likely know about a deal before he would, then rejoiced with an optimistic “Let’s go win a cup !” tweet.

This is all because getting traded can be very stressful. This is true even if you requested a trade in the first place. On Friday, Ryan Kesler, or whichever ghostwriter The Players’ Tribune used to pose as Kesler, talked about the process of being traded and joining a new team.

The most interesting part of the article, however, is what was left out.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 2, Coyotes 3 (SO)

The Canucks have a frustrating tendency to play to the level of their opponents. Against top tier teams, the Canucks have pulled out some remarkable performances this season. They’re undefeated against the Blackhawks, Blues, Islanders, Penguins, and Capitals, for example.

And yet, the Canucks have had some of their worst games of the season against some of the worst teams in the league. They lost to the Devils and Sabres on their recent road trip, lost their only meeting with the Maple Leafs, and have lost twice to the Stars.

So, when the Coyotes entered this game on a 10-game losing streak, with Mikkel Boedker and Martin Hanzal on the Injured Reserve list, and Antoine Vermette, Zbynek Michalek, and Keith Yandle plying their trade in other cities after the trade deadline, I was concerned.

My concerns were borne out when I watched this game.

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Stick in Link: Edler and Burrows set to return against throwback jersey-wearing Coyotes

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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Chris Higgins has secretly been a playmaker this season

One of the most popular posts I’ve written on Pass it to Bulis was the straight-forwardly titled “Chris Higgins scores goals, has abs.” I assume the abs are still there, but the goalscoring has all but disappeared.

Higgins has gone 15 games without a goal and has just one goal in his last 28 games. Since joining the Canucks, Higgins has regularly scored at or near a pro-rated 20 goals each season, though never quite hitting that mark due to missed games. This season, he has just 7 goals, on pace for a 9-goal season.

Unsurprisingly, this has led to a fair bit of criticism from Canucks fans, with many calling for him to be traded and questioning why he remains in the lineup when other players get scratched for lack of production.

Here’s the thing: despite the lack of goals, Higgins is still tied for fourth on the Canucks in points, behind only Radim Vrbata and the Sedins. While his goalscoring has dried up, Higgins dug a little deeper and found an untapped well of playmaking this season.

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The PITB Podcast, Episode 23: Trade Deadline Breakdown Extravaganza!

What just happened at the NHL trade deadline? What did the Canucks do? What’s a Baertschi? Who’s a Conacher?

We break down the Canucks moves at the trade deadline and what they mean for the Canucks this season (nothing at all) and in the future (potentially lots?), as well as touching on a few of the other trades around the league. We also discuss the ethics of tanking and the Canucks’ recent road trip and gonzo game against the St. Louis Blues.

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Recapping the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

It’s the NHL trade deadline! This is essentially a national holiday here in Canada, though no one gets the day off and nothing ever actually happens.

This time, however, something might happen! But probably not. The Canucks are in an odd position where they are clearly building for the future, but are also in a fairly solid playoff position now and now is when fans spend money on playoff tickets.

On the other hand, teams are paying exorbitant prices for merely okay players, so it’s tempting to want the Canucks to trade away one of their multitude of middle-six forwards like Chris Higgins, Shawn Matthias, Brad Richardson, or Jannik Hansen to stock up on draft picks and roll the dice that losing one of them won’t cost the Canucks too dearly in the short term. The emergence of Ronalds Kenins and the presence of other solid youth down in Utica make it tempting, but the Canucks also don’t want to raid Utica’s roster too much with the Comets looking to make a push for the Calder Cup and give their prospects some valuable experience.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 6, Blues 5 (SO)

This weekend, when it came time to select one of this week’s three Canucks games as the Game of the Week, I eschewed this game against the St. Louis Blues in favour of Tuesday’s matchup against the San Jose Sharks. I reasoned that the combination of a tough Central Division opponent and the first home game after a road trip would lead to an ugly result for the Canucks, without much in the way of entertainment.

I was completely, totally wrong.

Here are the things that would have to happen in the Sharks game to make it more entertaining than this one:

* Left wing on the Sharks’ top line: Left Shark from Katy Perry’s Super Bowl half-time show.

* An all-out, no-holds-barred brawl between Jean-Claude Van Damme and Fin.

* Finally, a winner on Safeway’s Score-and-Win thanks to a five-goal night from Yannick Weber.

* Kanye West bursting on the ice just before the game-deciding shootout attempt, declaring, “Yo, Bonino, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish, but Marek Malik had one of the best shootout goals of all time!”

None of those things happened, but all sorts of other entertaining things did, when I watched this game.

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Game of the Week: Canucks vs Sharks, March 3rd, 2015

The Canucks have two home games and an away game this week after their five-game eastern swing, beginning with a game on Sunday against the St. Louis Blues, one of the top teams in the terrifying Central Division, then facing their Pacific Division rivals, the San Jose Sharks, on Tuesday, then the hapless Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.

I don’t like the looks of either the game against the Blues or the game against the Coyotes. The Canucks can certainly compete with the Blues and won their first meeting of the season, but the first home game after a road trip has a tendency to lead to a letdown.

Meanwhile, the Canucks have been playing down to the level of some of their lesser opponents of late, losing to both the New Jersey Devils and the Buffalo Sabres on their road trip, so the game against the Coyotes makes me nervous as well.

That leaves just one game to pick as game of the week, so fortunately it ought to be a good one. The Sharks are in a tailspin, losing 7 of their last 9 games and falling out of playoff position, but they’re still the Sharks and games between them and the Canucks tend to be entertaining.

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Stick in Link: Sedins lead Canucks through injury troubles; trade deadline talk

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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Big Numbers: Shawn Matthias scores goals, Chris Higgins doesn’t

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 NHL.com, War-on-Ice.com, Puckalytics.com, HockeyAnalysis.com, BehindtheNet.ca, and elsewhere.

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The Prospector: Jake Virtanen will destroy you and everything you hold dear

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, Jake Virtanen is the destroyer, Jared McCann and Cole Cassels continue to dominate the OHL, Jordan Subban is a record-breaker, Patrick McNally suffers a season-ending injury, Mackenze Stewart scores a goal, and Dane Fox reminds us all that he exists. Whew!

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 2, Bruins 1

The Canucks had no business winning this game, so they’re extremely fortunate that the mullet is the official haircut of hockey — it’s not all business; there’s plenty of room for a party. And who on the Canucks do you think of when you hear the word “party”? That’s right: Dan Hamhuis.

Wait, that’s not right: it’s Zack Kassian. He’s clearly the partiest member of the Canucks and he continued his goalscoring streak with his 4th goal in 3 games and also his 4th different goal celebration. The goal stood up as the gamewinner thanks to an incredible performance by Eddie Lack. It’s always a party when the Canucks beat the Bruins.

I listened to Andrew W.K. when I watched this game.

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New Van Fan, Season 3 Episode 2: #changeiscoming

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the New Van Fan folks and this episode makes it incredibly clear why, as we’re introduced to the newest Van Fan: Andreas’s tiny, adorable son.

Only, Dan doesn’t find him so adorable. In fact, he suggests that he resembles the absolutely worst possible person a Canucks’ fan could imagine. Is this the end of their friendship? Of New Van Fan?

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Stick in Link: Bonino expected to return, Canucks weathering injuries

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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