Ryan Miller returns to Canucks’ net just in time to take the blame

Facing elimination in Game 5 their first-round series with the Calgary Flames, the Vancouver Canucks will turn to Ryan Miller. The news, first reported by Irfaan Gaffar on Wednesday night, was formally confirmed by coach Willie Desjardins Thursday afternoon.

It’s Miller time in Game 5, and let’s hope that Miller’s knees are up to it, and he doesn’t wind up looking like a beer-leaguer that declared the beginning of Miller time three hours before puck drop.

How was this decision made? Did the Canucks weigh Miller’s experience? Did his mammoth contract, which looks more and more unmovable as his starter’s job slips away amid Eddie Lack’s superior numbers, come into it?

Nah. The Canucks made the decision based on what happened in Game 4. “I thought he looked really sharp in the game in Calgary,” Desjardins explained to the assembled media.

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Stick in Link: Everything sucks right now; are the Sedins playoff busts?

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 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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I Watched This Game: Canucks 1, Flames 3

The Canucks had nothing in Game 4. Possession-wise, they dominated from start to finish, but it was a little like how the toddler always dominates possession during road hockey games in the cul-de-sac. Sure, he has the puck a lot, but that’s mostly because he’s among friends, and nobody has the heart to take it from him. He’s five. Does he really need to know his motor skills are pure crap? Just let him carry it around for awhile. Eventually he’ll pull a Luca Sbisa and just bobble it away for no good reason, and then the game can continue.

But while the Canucks looked like a bunch of toddlers out there, they also looked like a bunch of dads. Old. Slow. Not particularly interested in winning anymore. Which is crazy. Unless a witch turned the entire Canucks roster into slugs sometime between Game 3 and Game 4, there’s simply no excuse for them to be this sluggish in a game they needed to have that badly. Heck, even then it would be hard to defend the way they played tonight. Oh, a witch turned you into slugs? Tough. That’s just playoff hockey. Now go out there and show some flippin’ heart, you pack of stinking gastropods. I watched this game.

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Spitballin’ on more Sedinery, Zack Kassian’s back, and a house fight

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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Alex Burrows taken to hospital after suffering broken rib at Canucks practice

The Canucks will be without Alex Burrows for Tuesday night’s Game 4 after the right winger left practice at the Scotiabank Saddledome on a stretcher.

Information at this point is scarce. According to some reports, Burrows left the ice saying “help”, and appeared to be favouring his wrist. He was followed by the training staff.

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Concourse brawl, fight with security already among Canucks fan playoff lowlights

If you’ve been following the Vancouver Canucks’ first round series with the Calgary Flames, and you’re not Steve Simmons, you know that the last couple of contests have not exactly ended in a dignified manner.

Both Games 2 and 3 have ended in line brawls, with the losing team opting to “send a message”. That’s hockeyspeak for “be a sore loser”, by the by, in much the same way “climate change” is used to downplay “global warming” or “planet wrecking”.

But the bad behaviour hasn’t just been restricted to the ice.

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Alex Burrows, Dan Hamhuis avoid suspensions for Game 3 shenanigans

Game 3 may have ended around 10pm PST last night, but as the Canucks went to bed on Sunday, they did so knowing they could awake to one or two more losses, as both Alex Burrows and Dan Hamhuis awaited the mercy of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

But Lady Fortune has smiled on the Canucks. It would appear that both Burrows and Hamhuis will be eligible for Tuesday’s all-important Game 4.

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Sundin twins, Dan ‘Hamoose’ star in unfortunate ESPN highlight package [VIDEO]

Everybody’s talking about the Canucks and Flames after their spirited Game 2, which ended with the two clubs embroiled in yet another line brawl. Of course, some are talking about it better than others.

Others, in this case, is ESPN, whose highlight package for Vancouver’s 4-1 win won’t do much to dispel the notion that the network wouldn’t know a hockey game if one broke out at a fight. It’s full of mispronunciations and, in some cases, just completely different names. Roland Kenins? Dan Hamoose? The Sundin twins? You should probably watch this.

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Calgary Zoo gorilla loves his new Canucks jersey [VIDEO]

We have a new favourite gorilla here at Pass it to Bulis. Until today, it was Mighty Joe Young, obviously. But that was before we saw this adorable video from the Calgary Zoo in which a Canucks jersey stuffed with straw is placed in the gorilla habitat.

“What you see behind you looks like the torso of a Canucks fan,” we’re told. “We’re gonna see what our gorilla troop thinks of that. Stay tuned.”

Presumably, the goal here is to get footage of a gorilla destroying a Canucks sweater — maybe even throwing some poop at it or something. But it turns out chimps think the Flames are for chumps. Rather than seeing some gorillas symbolically tear a Canucks fan limb from limb, we get a video in which one of the local gorillas goes rogue, and publicly declares his love for the Canucks by draping himself in the blue and green.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 4, Flames 1

Everyone had an opinion on why the Canucks lost Game 1 of their first-round series with the Calgary Flames. Not enough Sedinery; too much Pizza-Juice; Nick Bonino was terrible. But if you ask me, the big issue was simpler than that: after scoring the opening goal, the Canucks stopped scoring. That’s not gonna cut it — not when the Flames turn into werewolves in the light of the third period moon.

But this time, the Canucks scored, and then they scored again. And then again. By the time the third period rolled around, they were too far in front for Calgary’s comeback to have any impact. So naturally, the Flames went nuts instead, offering up pretty convincing rebuttal to anyone who would suggest they’re the most disciplined team in the league. I had my doubts when I watched this game.

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Hoodwinked Films just dropped the illest Canucks playoff anthem around [VIDEO]

We’re not wrong often here at Pass it to Bulis, but sometimes it happens, and when it does, we believe in bringing our mistakes right to you, the readers. Here is one such mistake: on Wednesday, after releasing “Sedinery”, an ode to the Sedins that borrows its melody (and single cover art) from Blackstreet classic “No Diggity”, we were convinced that PITB was the source of not just the number one Canucks’ playoff anthem, but also the number one Canuck-themed club banger.

We were wrong. On Friday, the gentlemen at Hoodwinked Films dropped a video of their own, and folks, this thing is where it’s at. It’s an earworm, but it’s also a tapeworm, because you’re gonna feel it in your backside — this is rump-shaking music. But it’s also raw hip hop artistry. It’s like if, instead of spending the last seven minutes of To Pimp a Butterfly just talking, Kendrick Lamar and the ghost of Tupac had given us the hip hop collab we really wanted, nay, needed.

Have I oversold it? You decide.

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Conspiracy Watch: Does the Canucks’ front office hate the Sedins?

For much of the regular season, the Vancouver Canucks have been credited with a balanced forward corps, thanks to additions like Bo Horvat, Derek Dorsett, and Radim Vrbata. This new dynamic lifted the team back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and has been a welcome change of pace after John Tortorella tried to play the Sedins to death during 2014. However, there has been a hidden thread connecting the moves made by the new regime: they’re all the part of Jim Benning and Trevor Linden’s master plan.

Ever since Benning and Linden took over the Vancouver Canucks, they have done everything they can to “make their mark” on the organization by committing significant money to free agents and acquiring the players their coach wanted. Ryan Miller, an expensive free agency signing, has been in the sights of Benning for quite some time. Similarly, “good human” Derek Dorsett was an interesting acquisition considering the cost, but as one of Willie Desjardins’ former Medicine Hat players, the acquisition began to make some sense. Then there were the contracts extensions to Dorsett and Luca Sbisa, which seemed blind to the play of both men during their first year in Vancouver.

Fast forward to today, and we now know that the Canucks aren’t just overpaying for Sbisa and Dorsett, they’re overplaying them too. Instead of deploying Henrik and Daniel Sedin with consistency during Game One against the Calgary Flames, Willie Desjardins opted to play a “balanced” lineup, rolling all four lines almost equally. This, of course, was a large part of the team’s downfall. Henrik and Daniel Sedin are generational players, and while they may be prone to overuse like anyone else, they need to be given the chance to take over a playoff game.

Instead, the Sedins both played less than five minutes each during Wednesday’s third period. Why? Because they were here when Benning and Linen arrived.

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Three things the Canucks can do better in Game 2

Game 2 between the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames goes Friday, and it’s clear the Canucks need to make a few changes if they don’t want this series to get away from them.

For one thing, they need to win more. On Wednesday, they didn’t win at all, and if I may say, that’s not enough winning. But it’s not quite that simple. In order to win more, they’ll need to do the following:

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Player to watch: Chris Higgins, now with dad strength

Far be it from me to complain about the playoffs, but the Canucks’ postseason berth has had an adverse affect on us here at Pass it to Bulis, albeit a minor one: game of the week has been put to sleep. It’s just a little too easy to pick at this point: whichever game the [...]

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Real Good Tweets, where the Canucks are nearing a dubious record

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

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Jacob Markstrom makes bid for attention with goalie fight [VIDEO]

It’s playoff time in Vancouver, so naturally, all anybody wants to talk about is the goaltenders. Who should be starting? Who’s better? In both cases, the correct answer is Eddie Lack, and unsurprisingly, he was the guy the Canucks turned to in their playoff opener Wednesday night. Will the Canucks stay with Lack, though? One suspects that if the club heads to Calgary down two games, we might see Ryan Miller. Expect Vancouver fans to have some opinions on that.

But while Miller and Lack are fueling debate at the top of the Canucks’ depth chart, third-string option Jacob Markstrom is all but forgotten. Which might have been the motivation behind his goalie fight with Peter Mannino of the Birmingham Senators on Wednesday night: get people talking about ol’ Marky. Take a look:

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Big Numbers: More Sedins, less Bonino seems the way to go after Game 1

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, Flames 2

This was painful to watch, and not just because I spilled all that lye in my eyes this morning. The Canucks were in control of this game through two periods; all they had to do was win da turd, as a certain French-Canadian winger once misremarked. But no one comes back as frequently as the Flames, who are the Brent Favre of hockey teams (minus all the sexting), and when the final buzzer sounded, they had done just that, scoring two in the final frame to steal Game 1.

Now the pressure is firmly on the Canucks, who need to win Game 2, lest they return to Calgary down two games to none. It’s tough to win a series after dropping the first two — although it has been known to happen. Aw heck. I just made myself sadder than I was after I watched this game.

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Eddie Lack the shocking surprise starter for Game 1; we are shocked and surprised

Canucks nation was shocked Wednesday, well and truly shocked, when the Canucks announced that Eddie Lack would be the starting goaltender for Game 1 of the NHL playoffs.

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Canucks vs. Flames: Who’s the real underdog?

There isn’t a soul in the Canucks’ locker room that would ever admit it, but the club had to be over the moon when they learned their first-round playoff opponent would be the Calgary Flames. After all, no playoff team gets outpossessed and outshot the way the Flames do, and that bodes well for outscoring them, since you usually need to possess and shoot the puck in order to score.

But the Flames were probably pretty happy too. The second-worst team to make the postseason, by these metrics? The Vancouver Canucks. What we have, then, is a rare situation where both teams look at their opponent and think, this is my ideal matchup. Neither club is wrong. The numbers may paint the Flames as a beatable opponent, but they also portray the higher-seeded Canucks as eminently upsettable. It’s win-win, except that someone has to lose.

But to hear Flames coach Bob Hartley tell it, this isn’t a battle between two teams that might be a little weak in the knees. It’s David versus Goliath, because the Vancouver Canucks are perfect. “They’re favourites in all departments,” Hartley said, swooning, I imagine.

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Pass it to Bulis presents: ‘Sedinery’ [VIDEO]

It’s been a bounceback year for the Sedins, who went from has-beens to still-ares in 2014-15, rebounding after a disastrous year to post top ten offensive seasons and lead the Canucks back to the postseason. While there’s never been any doubt that the Canucks will only go as far as Daniel and Henrik can carry them, there’s a renewed hope that we could be talking about some real distance. The Sedins have everybody talking again.

They also have us singing. Like all heroes, the Sedins deserve to have their exploits detailed in an ode, and is there anyone more odious than we? I submit that there is not. Presenting “Sedinery”, the long-awaited follow-up to “Holding Out for Bonino”.

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Stick in Link: Bieksa on playoff officiating, Buble’s bracket, playoff X-factors

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 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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We asked five Flames writers about their dumb team

The Calgary Flames wear red. This much we know. But we’re fuzzy on everything else, and with the Flames set to face off against the Canucks in the first round of the NHL postseason, it behooves us to know the enemy.

That in mind, we’ve assembled a panel of Flames experts, folks that have been following this team for longer, and far closer, than we have: Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald, Flames Nation writers Ryan Pike, Kent Wilson and Neil Davies (@bookofloob), and Yahoo Sports columnist and Flames fan Ryan Lambert.

Obviously it’s important to keep in mind that they’re biased, and that they support the Flames, so their reason and credibility is in question. But we digress.

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The Calgary Flames are bad

It’s been a good year for Canadian hockey, with several teams outperforming expectations, and an impressive five of the seven Canadian teams earning berths in the postseason. It’s enough to make Canadian hockey fans all swoony. Five chances at the country’s first Stanley Cup since 1993? Yes please.

But ah, these teams are not equal. The Jets’ first taste of playoff glory is a nice story. Carey Price and P.K. Subban make the Montreal Canadiens all sorts of fun. The Canucks are, of course, perfect. And it’s nigh impossible to avoid getting sucked in by the miraculous Ottawa Senators and however long Andrew Hammond has left.

But the Calgary Flames? They’re bad.

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Watch these eight Canucks playoff pump-up videos, get sufficiently pumped

It’s Stanley Cup Playoffs Eve, with the Canucks set to open their first round series with the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, and I, for one, am pumped.

Is it possible that you are also pumped? I should hope so. But if not, fear not, as there’s a whole category of videos designed to get you pump. They’re called pump-up videos, and they’re all but guaranteed to up your level of pumpedness. Here are eight.

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