The Paper Feature: Seven ways to improve the experience at Canucks home games

Talk to any number of Vancouver Canucks fans about the in-game experience at Rogers Arena and you’re going to hear a few things more than once: “Funny, I forgot all about the option of attending a game live,” many will say. “I quite enjoy doing the wave,” others will add, infuriatingly. And others still will not hesitate to tell you the live experience is too “corporate”.

I don’t agree at all. Have you ever been to a corporate event? Those people know how to party.

The folks hosting Vancouver Canucks games, on the other hand, do not. As attendance continues to dip, even after several changes this summer, many are beginning to wonder if there aren’t ways to make Rogers Arena a more desirable place to visit on game nights.

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Canucks of the Week, in which Superman returns

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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Stick in Link: Hamhuis returns; why the Canucks will make the playoffs

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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I Watched This Game: Canucks 4, Flyers 0

Ever since 2015 began, the burning question in Vancouver has been: “What’s wrong with the Canucks?” (Followed closely by: “Did all of B.C.’s mayors get together and decide to be more newsworthy in 2015 or something?”) The team has struggled to score — making them look like fools for trading Roberto Luongo, then making Joni Ortio look like Roberto Luongo — and thus, they have also struggled to win, as you need to score to win. (Something Eddie Lack keeps trying to bashfully suggest. But he’s just so friendly, it’s hard to take him seriously.)

But now there’s a new question: Why can’t the Canucks play the Flyers more often? Because it seems as though, in just sixty minutes versus the struggling Eastern Conference club, all the questions about what ails this team were put to bed. Nick Bonino? The Sedins? Goal-scoring in general? Fixed, fixed, fixed. Just this weekend, I pegged this as the game to watch, and was I ever proven right when I watched this game.

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Stick in Link: Dan Hamhuis reloaded; Canucks at the midway point

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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Are the Canucks bad?

The Vancouver Canucks began this season with a great deal of promise, which was either great, or the worst possible start, depending on how you look at it. On the one hand, it served to validate their promises that this season would be unlike last season. But on the other hand, by beginning the season strong, they actually were doing what they did last year.

And as the season’s hummed along, and the Canucks have continued to match last year stride for stride, fans have been getting nervous. Normally this would be silly, to be more and more scared that your team is bad as they play well deeper into the season, but not when the puck possession is beginning to slide. As the advanced stats community has warned us many times, that usually signals a brewing storm.

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Game of the Week: Canucks vs Flyers, January 15

This week’s schedule poses a bit of a conundrum when it comes to selecting the marquee game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 0, Flames 1

Some nights you just don’t score. You can look really good. You can put in a solid effort. You can even generate some quality looks. But at the end of the day, it always takes a little luck. The robots knew. You gotta get lucky. And when you don’t, well, there’s always a late-night poutine shack open somewhere.

What were we talking about? Right, there was a hockey game tonight. I zoned out a bit because nothing happened. Anyway, I watched this game.

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Radim Vrbata the lone Canuck made to attend the 2015 NHL All-Star Game

We did Radim Vrbata a grave dishonour earlier today, somehow forgetting about him during our mid-season report card. After realizing his name was nowhere to be found in this week’s Paper Feature, he undoubtedly spent most of the morning sulking around his condo.

Fortunately, his day was made immeasurably better when his name showed up elsewhere, on the NHL’s list of players announced for 2015 All-Star Weekend. For the first time in his career, Vrbata is an all-star. Congratulations! Here is your ticket to Columbus, Ohio. Yes, you have to go.

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Canucks of the Week, starring you-know-who-ongo

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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I Watched This Game: Canucks 1, Panthers 3

Roberto Luongo may have been with the visitors on Thursday night, but in a lot of ways, his return to Rogers Arena probably felt like a home game. Rather than getting jeered all night, he was honoured with a video tribute and a standing ovation at the first TV timeout. Then the fans LUUUUUU-ed him with nearly every save. And by the third period, the lower-bowl was practically empty, which had to make him feel like he was back in Sunrise. Nice touch there by the Canucks’ faithful.

In addition to the video tribute, not to mention the portion of his salary the Canucks are still charitably paying, the club also gifted their former starter a win — the 389th of his career, tying him with Dominik Hasek for 11th all-time. So all in all, it was a good night for Luongo. Less so for the team that traded him away, but it just wasn’t their night. It was Luongo night. And so, like them, I watched this game.

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Stick in Link: Roberto Luongo overload edition

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: Canucks one of those ‘special’ teams; more icetime for Edler

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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Hey, remember that horrible loss to the Islanders last year?

There were so many low points in the Canucks’ 2013-14 season that it’s hard to say which was indeed the lowest. In fact, you could probably build a really good Family Feud category by just asking people in Yaletown what moment they hated the most. “We surveyed 100 Canuck fans. Top five answers on the board. What was the worst part of last season?” “BENCHING LUONGO AT THE HERITAGE CLASSIC.” (“Good answer, good answer!”) “Survey says:”

*ding*

Yeah, you’d better believe that boneheaded move is up there. As is the horrible, horrible game the Canucks put in when they last hosted the New York Islanders on March 10, a game in which they entered the third period leading 3-0 and exited the third period having lost 7-4. SEVEN. TO FREAKING. FOUR. I watched this game from a bar, and thank God, because after a game like that, I needed liquor right away.

Heck, even now, a season, General Manager, a half a roster removed from that heinous, heinous night, it’s still a pretty troubling moment to remember. (Read our recap from the night: I nearly lost my damn mind.) But hey man, until we can face our fears, we will be ruled by them, which is why, with the Islanders back in town on Tuesday night, now seems as good a time as any to look back at what one of the most infuriating [one-game] Canuck collapses in franchise history.

Don’t panic, though. I’m not going to make you rewatch the entire game. Just the four-minute highlight package. And you can follow along with me below.

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Stick in Link: Lack gets dumped; Burrows gets bumped

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 Henrik Sedin’s bayonet, goal differential, and the singular Alex Burrows

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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Canucks of the Week, starring the last days of Tom Sestito

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: How the Canucks are meeting and failing expectations

It’s amazing how quickly things can change in the NHL, even in the course of one game. Thursday night versus the Los Angeles Kings, the Canucks looked on their way to stealing two points from the defending Stanley Cup champions. Ryan Miller had been standing on his head, which is a strange way to tend goal (although it enables him to make higher kick saves). Either way, it appeared to be working, and the Canucks had clearly decided that it was Miller’s night, and purposed themselves to keeping the puck near him so he could work his magic.

At that point, the story was clear: a year removed from their bad selves (and not the bad selves one gets down with, but the bad selves that are just plain bad), Vancouver appeared to have refound their ability to beat the California teams. Five out of six points on this recent swing! How fantastic! What a way to ring in the New Year! 2015 may not be what Back to the Future II said it was going to be, but no doubt that Biff’s sports almanac had the Canucks as the 2015 Stanley Cup champs.

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Canucks waive goodbye to Tom Sestito

After discovering an incredible loophole in the collective bargaining agreement that allowed them to “waive” a player they didn’t particularly “want”, the Canucks have done exactly that, putting Tom Sestito in the FREE PLAYER bin in an attempt to send him to the Utica Comets.

One suspects he’ll clear, unless the Calgary Flames, who are avid enforcer collectors, don’t mind that he’s got a few dents and scratches. And once he clears (and provided he reports), he may soon realize this is actually probably the best thing for his career.

Here are the facts: The Canucks of the Three Greenhorns era have no use for Tom Sestito. Trevor Linden, Jim Benning, and Willie Desjardins have their hearts set on four lines that can play, which means twelve players that can play, and when you’re icing guy that’s working against the efforts of the other eleven (Judasing, I believe this is called), that’s a problem.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 2, Kings 3

2014 was an ugly year for the Vancouver Canucks franchise — especially that first half. After a strong opening to the 2013-14 season, the Canucks greeted the New Year by falling flat on their faces, winning just 13 of their final 41 games. Chief amongst their issues this time last year: an inability to hold leads, especially against the California trio that ruled the top of their treacherous division. So naturally, the Canucks came into 2015 eager to prove there would be no repeat of last season, and what better way than a New Year’s Day test against the difficult Los Angeles Kings.

And prove it they did! After jumping out to an early lead, the Kings pressed, and pressed, and pressed, but the Canucks’ team defence was unwavering, and Ryan Miller stood tall, holding Los Angeles at bay. There are still five minutes to go as I write this, granted, but the outcome has never been… more… damn it. Tie game. Crud. Looks like I’ll be scrapping this intro.

So the Canucks and Kings went to overtime, I assume, since they can’t possibly… YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.

I watched this game.

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The top 20 Vancouver Canucks goals of 2014 (10 – 1)

If you read yesterday’s opening half of this year’s fancy Canuck goal countdown, you may have noticed that there wasn’t much Sedinery. The same can be said for much of 2014, unfortunately. But not for the back half of this list. The Sedins are all over it. Watching these goals, you’d think we’d turned back the clock three years or something. They’ve still got it. They may not show it quite as often, but when they do, my word is it pretty.

And they aren’t the only ones. The top 10 Canuck goals of the year also feature appearances from Zack Kassian, Radim Vrbata, and the Calgary Flames. As the year that is becomes the year that was, here are the 10 best Canuck goals of 2014.

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The top 20 Vancouver Canucks goals of 2014 (20 – 11)

2014 will hardly go down as a year to remember for the Vancouver Canucks franchise, except maybe as a cautionary tale. (Don’t overwork the Sedins. Don’t believe Ryan Kesler. Don’t entrust the fate of your veteran room to John Tortorella. And so on.) There wasn’t much to celebrate. But every now and then, albeit not that often, especially in the last days of Torts, the Canucks scored a goal. And sometimes — again, infrequently — they scored a beauty. Not with the regularity of previous years, perhaps, which is why this list will only go to 20 instead of the usual 30, but still. Sometimes.

Today we celebrate those times. The hard times will come later, probably in our annual point-by-point retrospective. But for now, pretty goals. A bunch of them. We give you the top 20 Vancouver Canucks goals of 2014.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 1, Ducks 2 (OT)

I got a Wii U for Christmas, so let’s make this quick: the Canucks played a game tonight. They weren’t very good, and when you’re going up against one of the NHL’s best teams, being very good is pretty important. So they lost.

But all is not lost. Just the game. There were still some positive signs: for instance, Ryan Miller was excellent, and arguably the sole reason the Canucks left Anaheim with a point. Plus now the game is over, so I can get back to playing Nintendo, as soon as I finish sharing my insights from when I watched this game.

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Game of the Week: Canucks vs Ducks, December 28

Every now and then, we get little reminders that Canuck players are just like us. Most of the time, I appreciate these reminders. They help us to humanize these guys, to realize that, despite their superhuman strength, skill, agility, and so on, they’re just dudes.

But so help me if we get one of these reminders in the Canucks’ first game back. I don’t want to see a Vancouver team that looks like they did what I did this holiday season, which is eat and drink until I could not move. If they look for even a second like they gorged on ham, mashed potatoes and garlic bread, or drank pancake batter spiked with spiced rum until it was seeping out of their pores — if they look like a team with a hangover and a food baby — I’m going to flip.

Not literally, mind you. I’m still pretty full. I can barely walk right now.

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Real Good Tweets, starring @vrbatrows, the master mathematician

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

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