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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Big Numbers: The long and winding road trip; goal differential a stat to watch

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 —›
Stick in Link: Pat Quinn remembered; Canucks trade Alex Mallet for Andrey Pedan

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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Jannik Hansen named the NHL’s first star of the week

What a week it’s been for Jannik Hansen (and his biggest booster, Thomas Drance, who’s been arguing with Jason Botchford and his Botcholytes about Hansen’s skill, utility, and effectiveness as Radim Vrbata’s understudy for weeks now).

Suffice it to say, this is pretty vindicating: Hansen is the NHL’s first star of the week.

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Pat Quinn, Canucks president, coach, GM, architect, defender, icon, legend dies at 71

The hockey world, and Vancouver hockey especially, has lost one of the greats, as former Canuck defender, coach, president, and General Manager Pat Quinn died Monday at the age of 71.

He will be missed, especially in Vancouver. He was on hand for so many of this franchise’s greatest moments, in large part because he had a hand in orchestrating so many of them.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 4, Blackhawks 1

It was Daniel Sedin’s big night, the occasion of his 1000th NHL game. He was honoured prior to puck drop in a pregame ceremony, given a painting by Tony Harris (but, sadly, not Tony Harrison), and sent on a Disney cruise (which delighted his young daughter beyond measure). And then Jannik Hansen went ahead and stole the damn show.

We probably shouldn’t be surprised. He’s not named the honey badger because he lives alone in a self-dug hole. It’s because he doesn’t give a [hoot], and there’s really nothing more honey badger than choosing to score the first Canucks hat trick since Daniel Sedin did it in 2011, on the night set aside for honouring Daniel Sedin. Screw your big day, Daniel. Sunday, November 23, 2014, will henceforth be known as Jannik Hansen day to all those who watched this game, and I watched this game.

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The Paper Feature: After 20 games, can we say the Canucks are good yet?

The Vancouver Canucks hit the 20-game mark on Thursday night versus the Ducks, and it was only fitting that they’d reach the quarter-mark with hockey’s most confusing outcome: a shootout loss.

Consider: the Ducks left that game with just four wins in their last ten. But because they’ve been to the shootout in five of their last ten, they’ve got points in nine of their last ten. It’s entirely possible the Ducks are coming back to earth after a hot start. But you wouldn’t know it. Not when they keep coming away with points.

Similarly, one-fourth of the way into the season, it remains difficult to have a strong opinion on the quality of this year’s Canucks. Which is problematic, since it’s sort of our job to have one, and the 20-game mark may as well be the deadline. Five games? Small sample size. Ten games? Small sample size. 20 games? Time to make doody, as they say, or get off the pot.

But it’s tough to get off the pot in Vancouver.

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Canucks of the Week, starring Bo Horvat, and those sweet, sweet Oilers

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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Brian Elliott appears to be trapped in Sportsnet’s Canucks broadcasts

Brian Elliott took a brief nap Wednesday afternoon, as he often does. But as he slept, he met a small goblin named Mr. Teeth, who showed him a portal. “Pass through this portal,” said Mr. Teeth, with a wide, mischievous smile that wordlessly explained his name, “And you will be a star… forever.”

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 3, Ducks 4 (SO)

The Canucks have had this one circled on their calendars ever since the NHL released the 2013-14 schedule. Unfortunately, the whole thing was ruined when Bryan Allen was traded to the Montreal Canadiens the morning of the affair, robbing us of only our sixth opportunity to see Allen in Vancouver since he left in the summer of 2006.

On the bright side, there was still Jason LaBarbera’s homecoming. And Ryan Kesler was there too, playing his first game back in Vancouver since pulling a David Duchovny and demanding a move to Southern California. Kesler and Duchovny have a lot in common, actually. Both had five good seasons in Vancouver. Neither emotes very well. And both had roles in 2001 film Zoolander. (Kesler played the title character.)

I’m going to watch the X-Files as soon as I’m done here. But this isn’t about what I’m going to watch tonight. It’s about what I’ve already watched. I watched this game.

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