Canucks of the Week, starring an honest, critical Ryan Miller

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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The Paper Feature: Seven surefire ways to fix what ails the Canucks

It goes without saying that the Vancouver Canucks have been crummy for a while now, but since it’s my job, I’ll say it anyway: crummy, crummy, crummy. Wednesday night’s loss to the Dallas Stars pushed the club’s losing streak to five games, and left the club scrambling for answers.

And we have them. With two games remaining before the Christmas break and the swing through California that will immediately follow, it’s imperative the Canucks gets things turned around immediately, and we have a few suggestions that should help them to do just that. Admittedly, we’re hardly experts here, but I think even the most experienced hockey mind will be able to see that our ideas will lead this team back to the path they were on to start the season.

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Hidden Easter eggs and unexpected cameos in the Canucks holiday fireplace video

If you’re such a diehard Canucks fan that you can’t even light the fireplace without ruminating on your devotion to the home team, we at PITB sincerely hope you’ve stumbled across the Vancouver Canucks 2014 holiday fireplace, an hour of crackling fire, surrounded by Canucks paraphernalia such as a Fin plushie, four Orca stockings, and even the leg lamp from A Christmas Story done up in a Canucks sock and a skate.

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Stick in Link: Bad luck Lack; Canucks looking to move forward(s)?

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 [...]

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Eddie Lack starts versus Dallas, as the Canucks gift us something to argue about

After a gruelling, seven-game Eastern road swing that, predictably, saw the Canucks regress into a knockoff version of themselves, with their legs turning to rice noodles and their blood turning to beef broth — in other words, they became the pho-Canucks — the team has a pretty soft schedule this week.

Between appearances on Hockey Night in Canada, the Canucks play just once — Wednesday night versus Dallas. It’s great for them. Their system needs a tweak. They need a rest. And the whole team could stand to regain their composure a little.

But it’s terrible for those of us who write about them. We need games to fuel us, especially after a four-game losing streak. We’ve already blamed the Sedins and criticized Willie Desjardins for playing Jannik Hansen on their line; Kevin Bieksa and Luca Sbisa are already broken up; we’ve scathed the defence, we’ve cast aspersions on the offence. We’re parched over here. For the love of all that is holy, throw us a bone, Canucks!

“Eddie lack confirms he is starting tonight.”

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Here’s a video of the Canucks holding kittens and talking about Christmas

In the grand scheme of things, the Canucks didn’t deliver last season. (Unless you like that sort of thing. If you’re into frustration and horror, they delivered. They were like The Torsk, the stork’s obsidian-feathered, mythological evil twin that doesn’t serve up babies, but rather a small black bindle that bursts with carpenter ants the moment he alights at your home and places it menacingly in your lap.)

But at Christmas, the Canucks came correct, gifting their fans with an interactive holiday card that included the results of an ugly Christmas sweater photo shoot, and a behind-the-scenes video. It was the best gift we could have asked for, and it helped us through some difficult times. A little under a month later, when John Tortorella was going batcrap in the halls of Rogers Arena, and we went to our happy place, this photo of Alex Burrows was pinned on the wall.

Twelve months later, the season arrived once again, and the Canucks were faced with the Herculean task of topping last year’s goodies. But how?

With kittens. This year’s holiday card is pretty excellent.

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What’s wrong with the Canucks?

The Canucks played one-tenth of a hockey game on Saturday, falling to the New York Rangers in about six minutes, or the time it takes to microwave a Hungry Man Turkey Pot Pie, and I think I speak for all Canucks fans when I say: ridiculous. Pot pies are not meant to be microwaved — unless you like your pie crust soggy instead of flaky and your meaty, saucy, filling tongue-searingly molten hot.

Also the Canucks were terrible.

They’ve been terrible for a few games now, actually. The loss was their fourth in a row, and if that performance was any indication, there are more coming.

But not until Wednesday at the earliest, leaving Canucks fans with several days to wrestle with the question: What’s Wrong With the Canucks? We have some theories.

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Canucks of the Week, starring the Canucks minus hockey

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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Real Good Tweets, starring @petbugs13 and things people favourite

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

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Big Numbers: Pacific Division is struggling; Chris Tanev, secret goalie

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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I Watched This Game: Canucks 1, Canadiens 3

The Canucks did not play well tonight. Unlike the defensive pairing of Kevin Bieksa and Luca Sbisa, there’s no getting around it. They tested Carey Price just 16 times, which isn’t nearly enough, and they were out-attempted by a staggering margin of 68 to 29.

And yet, with five minutes remaining, they were still in the game, because hockey is funny. Then, with four minutes remaining, right when we began to wonder if they might steal a point, the Canadiens scored, because hockey is the cruel kind of funny. On the bright side, this is the first time I’ve ever felt like I could have been out there on the ice and fit right in. I felt like a real, honest-to-goodness Vancouver Canuck when I watched this game.

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Stick in Link: Burrows on Beliveau; are the Canucks collapse-proof?

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 get Paul MacLean fired for winning too crappily

The Ottawa Senators were a team on the verge when the Canucks visited them on Sunday afternoon. They’d dropped seven of eight, and five in a row coming into the contest, and one got the sense that if they couldn’t end their losing skid against Vancouver, who was playing their sixth game of a seven-game road trip, only 24 hours after after their fifth, heads would roll.

Paul MacLean needed a win in a big way. And when the Senators went down by three goals early, you could see him mentally clicking through the folders on his computer, trying to find his most recently updated résumé, then hoping he could add his Jack Adams award to the accomplishments section without screwing up the formatting.

But then the Senators turned things around, storming back to tie the game and win it in overtime. And MacLean responded like a guy who’d just received notice of his stay of execution.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 2, Leafs 5

I remember it like it was yesterday, perhaps because it was only yesterday that I advocated letting Eddie Lack play in Toronto. It wasn’t that I felt he was the superior goalie or anything like that — I just thought, and I still feel, that when your backup posts a shutout, he should be rewarded with the next start, rotation schedule be damned. But alas, my argument was not heard.

But then! An ally! Turns out Ryan Miller also felt that Eddie Lack deserved to be in goal for this one. But upon realizing that “blog post” wasn’t enough to make it happen, he tried another attack: “playing terribly”. It’s super effective! By the second period, after a flurry of Maple Leaf goals, Lack became the fifth thing Miller let past him. Meanwhile, proven correct, I watched this game.

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The Paper Feature: How consistent is Henrik Sedin across universes?

With 24 points in 25 games, the Sedin twins appear to be back to their point-per-game selves, which bodes well for the Canucks’ hopes of making the playoffs, and making some noise once they get there. But there’s another way to look at the numbers.

While it is indeed true that Henrik’s back to his old self, it’s tough to say which old self. After all, while his numbers through the first 25 are a drastic improvement over the last 25 under John Tortorella, in which Henrik had just 11 points, they’re not a big spike over his production in the first 25 under Tortorella.

They’re identical, in fact, as TSN 1040′s Jeff Paterson pointed out recently: Six goals. 18 assists. 24 points. And two years ago, in Alain Vigneault’s final season here, it was the same. Henrik Sedin through 25: six goals. 18 assists. 24 points.

It’s eerie, and it’s confusing. On the one hand, it completely undercuts the notion that this season is going to be different for the Sedins, or that it already has been. The evidence doesn’t really support that. But on the other hand, this is some startling consistency — something for which the Sedins have always been known.

So, in the interest of putting a positive spin on a somewhat disconcerting number, we decided to dig deeper. Henrik has put up identical early numbers across three seasons. But what about across universes?

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Eddie Lack should start for the Canucks on Saturday

For Canucks fans, there’s very little to complain about right now.

After a strong first two months of hockey, the team is perched atop the Western Conference with 37 points. There’s still a lot of season yet to go, but it’s going to take a major collapse for this club to miss the playoffs. With 56 games remaining, if the Canucks were to go .500 the rest of the way, picking up just 56 points total in those games, they’d finish the year with 93 points, which was enough to make the playoffs last season.

Meanwhile, every line is contributing. Early in the season, there was talk of the Canucks having three third lines. At this point, you’d have to argue they’ve been playing like three second lines.

But it’s Vancouver. We have to have something to complain about, and usually, when we’re grasping at straws, we look towards the crease. Maybe there’s a goaltending controversy we can muster?

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Canucks of the Week, starring Eddie Lack and his supportive mom

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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How Daniel and Henrik Sedin stormed the capital

Hockey fans often enjoy pointing out the differences between their sport and the sport of basketball, and admittedly, there are several. In hockey, the hoop is on the ground; the court is made of a slippery surface that requires special knife shoes; dunks are rare (although they do happen); fewer players drink Sprite; 6’2″ is considered tall; and it’s a lot harder to be a winning team just because you have the best player.

To that last point, though, while hockey may be more of a team game — that’s what happens when your stars are only on the ice for around one-third of the game, as opposed to, say, four-fifths of it — it is still possible to win hockey games for little reason beyond having the standout player. Or, in the case of the Canucks, players.

That’s what happened Tuesday night versus the Washington Capitals, as the Canucks skated away with two points because, simply, they happen to employ two guys from the same womb.

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Stick in Link: Canucks go sight-seeing in Washington; Cassels, Demko join Team USA

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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Spitballin’ on Eddie Lack’s shirt escape, and Nick Bonino, who’s like Sidney Crosby, except better

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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Game of the Week: Canucks vs Penguins, December 4

The Canucks are on the road this week, paying visits to Detroit, Washington, and Pittsburgh, and there’s a case to be made for each of these as the marquee game.

Red Wings/Canucks games have always been a lot of fun, save for the John Tortorella year, when all that free-flowing, high-octane hockey was replaced with something more closely resembling the last two hours of a game of Risk. (Will this ever end? Stop fortifying Kamchatka and do something. Some of us have to work in the morning.) So it’ll be a nice treat to see the new-look Canucks, who skate the puck and try to do stuff with it, up against Mike Babcock’s Red Wings.

But that game is at 11am on a Sunday. Nothing good happens before noon on a Sunday. Unless you’re a Protestant.

Far more exciting are the subsequent visits to Washington and Pittsburgh, home to Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, respectively.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 5, Blue Jackets 0

Here’s a phrase you don’t hear very often: as a Canucks fan, you really have to give credit to the NHL’s schedulemakers. The Canucks started the season strongly, and one suspects that a schedule front-loaded with Oiler games had something to do with it. It was like Vancouver’s preseason extended into the regular season. It was as though they were given a head start.

And now, here they are, on their longest road trip of the year, and once again the NHL schedule hands them an early tune-up by starting the trip in Columbus versus the Blue Jackets, or, as they’re known in these parts, Oilers East. Unsurprisingly, the Canucks had little difficulty dispatching the BJs, even despite playing a pretty forgettable game. And I watched this game.

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Totally real Black Friday deals at the Canucks team store

On Thursday night, as is tradition, the Americans celebrated Thanksgiving a month and a half late. It’s strange that they continue to do this, especially since it puts the entire country alarmingly behind in their Christmas shopping, which is why the day after Thanksgiving is such a scramble to buy gifts.

Nevermind that they still have a month until Christmas itself. Americans are notoriously responsible purchasers, known for buying what they need well in advance, which is why the day after Thursday Thanksgiving has been known as “Buy Lotsa Awful Christmas Crap” Friday, or B.L.A.C.C. Friday.

Until recently, it’s been a strictly American affair. But now Canadian retailers are getting in on the action for some damn reason, offering Black Friday deals of their own, even though yesterday was just a typical Thursday here in the Canadas.

Among those retailers: the Canucks team store, where you’ll find some of the best deals on rare and special Canuck-related items. Check out what they’re selling today!

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Real Good Tweets, starring @wholegrainne and kindly dad Trevor Linden

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

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Stick in Link: Alex Edler’s revival; Canucks off to best start, like, ever

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 [...]

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