The Canadian team you cheer for just got a whole lot better overnight

The Vancouver Canucks dropped their seventh straight game on Saturday night, a 3-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was a game the Canucks led through two periods but, as has become all-too familiar over the recent months, that mattered very little once the third period Canucks hit the ice. The third period Canucks are terrible, just terrible. It makes one wonder if they pass through a magical hallway in the second intermission — one that transforms their very essence into a hapless, crappier essence.

In any case, the loss was their first to the Maple Leafs in over a decade, which one hopes is rock bottom for this team. It’s a nightmare from which we won’t soon wake up.

Actually, that’s not true. It’s real-life. But the next three weeks, with the Canucks off and Team Canada on, are going to be a beautiful dream. Consider: when you went to bed on Saturday night, the team you cheered for was, as they say, a poop spectacle. But when you woke up Sunday morning, you, like Roberto Luongo, had a new team, with no problems!

Let’s take a look at the Canucks’ problems, and the ways in which they’ve been addressed.

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Spitballin’ on goal droughts, frightened Henrik, and Lack and Luongo in a balloon

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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The Week Ahead: A sweet reprieve from cheering for this infuriating team

The Canucks have two more games before the Olympic break, and we’ll get to those, but first a word on the break itself, and that word is finally.

Finally, and not so much because the Olympic hockey tournament in Vancouver was so much fun and the years have fallen away slowly as we wait for the next one, although that’s true, but because, as a Canucks fan, you should cherish this brief intermission.

Simply put, it’s more than an intermission. This isn’t just a chance to get up, stretch the legs, hit the restroom, and maybe buy a sparkling water. For Canucks fans, this is a much-needed vacation.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Boston Bruins, February 4, 2014

Not unlike they did for Game 6 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, the Vancouver Canucks hobbled into the TD Garden Tuesday night with a woefully depleted defence corps. And up front, the Canucks trotted out a collection of forwards that had seemingly forgotten how to score, led by a superstar centre that could barely stand, let alone skate. They needed a win, and moreover, so did I, because I suspect the trauma of enduring a familiar-feeling loss might have caused some sort of delusional, mental episode.

Fortunately, the Canucks did win. And they won big, with the powerplay scoring four times — four! — and Henrik Sedin gliding out onto the ice after the first intermission without so much as a wince. “Guess what, everybody!” he shouted, “I feel better than ever!” And the Boston defence was no match for the Sedinery he concocted with his brother. “We give up!” The city of Boston said when it was all over. “Vancouver truly is the greatest city in the world.

“And Harrison,” they added, “here is the key to the city. From now on, Boston will be known as Harriston.” It was all so wonderful when I watched this game.

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Photoshop gallery: Brad Marchand kisses invisible Cup

Brad Marchand is an idiot.

Now, to be fair, every team has guys like this, and they can be very effective and valuable. As I said yesterday on Boston radio, if Marchand was our idiot, to borrow a turn of phrase from Tom Sestito, we’d be more than happy to tolerate him. But he’s not. He’s very, very not.

As such, rather than tolerating, or worse, appreciating him, we at Pass it to Bulis encourage you to join us in mocking the Boston Bruins’ winger that’s become the face of the Bruins/Canucks rivalry (meaning the rivalry has a comically gigantic nose).

Above is a photo taken back on December 14, 2013, when Marchand’s Bruins visited Vancouver for the first time since they hoisted the Stanley Cup there in June of 2011. Thinking perhaps we might have forgotten, because he’s dumb and he forgets obvious things, like how to spell “champion”, Marchand mimed a Cup lift-and-kiss — and then he forgot he did it, because, as mentioned, he’s dumb, so he did it a second time.

Fortunately, pulling the same move twice gave Jeff Vinnick two opportunities to capture it perfectly for maximum photoshoppability, and the second time around, he definitely did. With the Canucks and Bruins set to go again Tuesday night, it is time to let the shops flow!

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Stick in Link: Tortorella returns with a vengeance; Eddie Lack, best rookie goalie?

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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John Tortorella sings ‘Don’t Push Me’, the greatest auto-tuned Canucks song ever [VIDEO]

John Tortorella was back at practice for the Vancouver Canucks Monday morning after serving a 15-day suspension for trying to punch his way into the Calgary Flames’ dressing room. It was a foolish decision for so many reasons. After all, who wants to be in there at all these days? Not even the Flames’ players.

Tortorella said as much, echoing the league’s rebuke of him as he apologized for his actions, and the effect they had on the team. “It’s been embarrassing and not just for me, but for everybody around me in the situation that has occurred here,” he told the assembled media.

But embarrassing as it was, some good has come of it. Not on the ice, where the Canucks went 2-4 in his absence and looked like a team without a coach, but off of it. Simply put, “Don’t push me,” an auto-tuned version of Tortorella’s press conference after the game versus Calgary, is one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Watch it. Watch it. Watch it.

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Canucks acquire defenceman Raphael Diaz, but they had to trade Dale Weise to do it

The Canucks made a minor move Monday morning, sending Dale Weise to Montreal in exchange for Swiss defenceman Raphael Diaz.

Our first reaction: this is a great trade. Any time you can get a guy who shares a name with a ninja turtle, you have won the trade. It’s as simple as that. And the Canucks have now doubled down on Swiss Olympians. With Yannick Weber already in the fold, they lead the league in that category, and you can’t spell “Stanley Cup” without “Swiss” (so long as you misspell it Swinsley Cusp).

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Ryan Kesler, Sidney Crosby get burned as Zach Parise named Team USA captain

Bad news, friends: Ryan Kesler has not been named the captain of Team USA.

He was never really in the running for the gig, of course. Most assumed it would be one of Parise, David Backes, Ryan Suter, or Dustin Brown. But since this is a Canucks blog, we try to filter all our news through the Canucks fan experience. Hence, we are outraged that Ryan Kesler was passed over for this honour.

Especially now that Parise has it. Has Zach Parise ever won the Selke trophy? No he has not.

Has Zach Parise ever ditched the team that drafted him to take a big-money contract elsewhere? Yes he has. Who’s to say he join Switzerland halfway through the tournament, after they back a truckload of money up to his house?

Don’t say you weren’t warned, America.

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Stick in Link: David Booth is what he eats; Corrado recalled; Canucks royal rumble

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 vs Chicago Blackhawks, January 29, 2014

The Chicago Blackhawks came into town riding a four-game losing streak. (Well, actually, they flew in on a jet. But you know what I mean.) They were struggling, having recently dropped a 5-4 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames, and through the first period and change of this one, it looked like their struggles were going to continue. They appeared to be exactly what the Canucks needed.

Until they weren’t. Shortly after the Canucks went up 2-0, they turned into exactly what the Blackhawks needed. It was an unfortunate inversion, like when that kid swung over the bar and became Inside-Out Boy. Actually, come to think of it, that kid got special abilities. The Canucks appeared to lose whatever abilities they had. And, unlike Inside-Out Boy, they showed very little guts when I watched this game.

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Shocking revelation: Zack Kassian does not exist

It’s been a trying season for Vancouver fans. After years of the Canucks hanging with the elite of the NHL’s Western Conference like Raven Symone with Mr. Cooper, the team has taken a step back. They’re still a likely playoff team, but only just barely, and there is literally nothing worse for a fan to endure than only just barely making the playoffs. No one understands our pain.

Fans have been forced this season to cheer for moral victories and just one Sedin (and as it turns out, not the good one). They’ve had to grit their teeth through a historic suspension to first-year coach John Tortorella and a brief, unrequited romance with Vinny “I’m a flirt” Prospal. Chris Tanev has a thumb injury. Jannik Hansen’s fallen off a cliff. The powerplay looks like it’s directed by Tommy Wiseau. It’s been tough sledding out here in Vancouver.

All that in mind, I hesitate to further compound the mental anguish through which the 2013-14 season is currently putting us, but, my friends, I have uncovered a lie so shocking it absolutely has to be shared. Please forgive me my dedication to the truth, but the people need to know:

Zack Kassian does not exist.

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The Week Ahead: The Blackhawks, some other teams, and then the Bruins

Every Wednesday we take a look at The Week Ahead to see what storylines we’ll be following, because Wednesday is a day meant for looking ahead to the future. Around here we call Wednesday “Future Day” and we all wear silver jumpsuits and big bubble space helmets. Doesn’t everybody do that?

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Edmonton Oilers, January 27, 2014

David Perron was drafted 26th overall in 2007, a fact that you probably already knew, since the Canucks had the pick right before that, and chose… poorly. This has a tendency to come up.

It definitely came up on Monday night, when the Canucks lost to the Edmonton Oilers, Perron’s current team (who also had two opportunities to draft him, instead picking Alex Plante and Riley Nash, but that doesn’t fit the narrative, so let us digress). Perron was the difference in this one, registering a hat trick, henceforth known as a Perron cocktail. (HEYO!)

So if you think about it, the Canucks really lost this game in 2007. Why did they even bother showing up for this game? It’s been decided for seven years! And why did I even bother watching this game? We will never know. But I watched this game.

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Big Numbers: Daniel Sedin’s terrible January; I think we broke the penalty kill

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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Spitballin’ on ‘Free Torts’, beer, and Vinny Prospal’s surprise retirement

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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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. Nashville Predators, January 23, 2014

I don’t want to be the guy that blames Roberto Luongo for this loss, but let’s be honest: all he had to do to win this game was stop literally every shot he faced. Do that, and the Canucks win. I mean, they gave him a goal. What more does he want? Two goals? Three? Don’t be ridiculous. The Canucks aren’t a basketball team. You get one goal.

Unfortunately, the Predators got two. Thanks for nothing, Luongo. Way to be a passenger. I watched this game.

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Unlicensed gear fail: last we checked, the Canucks were not from ‘Vancouaer’

Three weeks ago at the Winter Classic, the NHL’s brand protection officers, working jointly with Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Anti-Terrorism/Contraband Enforcement Unit, and the Detroit Police, seized more than $700,000 in counterfeit hockey gear — fake jerseys, hats, T-shirts and other souvenirs. They also arrested five people, and then, to let the world know they meant business, they released a statement.

“Around every major sports event in this country, we always see a sharp spike in counterfeit merchandise as criminal groups try to exploit the enthusiasm of fans,” said special agent Marlon Miller. “They use inferior materials to pump out lookalikes that do not benefit the teams, the players or the associations that have trademarked these goods.”

Suffice it to say, the NHL takes unlicensed merchandise very, very seriously.

As for the people making it, not so much. You’re looking at a flat-brimmed, black-and-yellow throwback Canucks hat, spotted at a Malaysian mall by travel blogger Peter Korchnak. According to this hat, the Canucks play in VANCOUAER.

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Stick in Link: Drama-free season for Luongo; Zack Kassian, scourge of Edmonton

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 Paper Feature: Who’s to blame for Saturday’s line brawl? Roberto Luongo

The NHL was none too pleased with what transpired Saturday night when the Canucks played host to the Flames, and it’s difficult to blame them. On Hockey Night in Canada, on Hockey Day in Canada, Calgary vs. Vancouver looked more like Marvel vs. Street Fighter.

We’ll say the Canucks were Marvel, since they had the Iron Man. That would be Henrik Sedin, who was playing his 679th consecutive game. But by “playing”, I mean “attempting to drag his near-lifeless and wholly uncooperative body through”. Henrik was in the lineup despite what appeared to be full-body necrosis. Recognizing that his health bar was dangerously low, John Tortorella shut him down at the second intermission, and the Iron Man was no more.

And speaking of Tortorella, he was pretty clearly in superhero mode as well. After all, attempting to fight one’s way through a group of henchman to get at their boss is a very superhero thing to do.

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The last Canucks coach to be suspended? Harry Neale, for punching a fan [VIDEO]

If John Tortorella was a firefighter, his attempt to battle through a bunch of flames to get at Bob Hartley would likely have us hailing him as a hero today. And speaking of heroes, if he was playing Guitar Hero 3, and he tackled through the fire and flames, we’d all be pretty impressed by that too.

Unfortunately for Tortorella, he is neither regular hero nor a Guitar Hero — he’s the coach of the Vancouver Canucks — which is why his actions Saturday night earned him a 15-day suspension by the NHL on Monday.

It’s the fourth-longest coach suspension in NHL history based on games lost, and based on days, it actually puts Tortorella into a tie for the bronze medal with Don Perry, formerly of the Los Angeles Kings, who was handed the same 15-day suspension in 1982 for ordering his players to leave the bench during a massive bench-clearing brawl versus — wait for it — the Canucks. (That’s right: for all the head-scratching the 15-day ban received, the NHL was actually following historical precedent.)

So which coaches have received longer suspensions? The second-longest goes to Harry Neale, also of your Vancouver Canucks, who was sentenced to 10 games in 1982 for punching a fan during a brawl that spilled into the stands.

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Kevin Bieksa employs ‘photoshop defence’ to explain appearance in Flames’ hallway

From the CalgaryPuck.com forums. John Tortorella was called to New York on Monday morning to account for his actions on Saturday night, when he raced down the tunnel at the first intermission, then around the building to the Flames hallway so that he could fight his way through to Bob Hartley, Oldboy-style. You can’t do [...]

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Kevin Bieksa won the faceoff: on the absurdity of the Canucks and Flames

Kevin Bieksa won the faceoff.

It’s difficult to know exactly where to begin when discussing last Saturday’s meeting between the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames, an event one might call a hockey game, unless one had watched it. This thing opened with 152 minutes in penalties and nine ejections, and it was decided in a shootout. There was hockey in it, I concede, in much the same way there are carrots in shepherd’s pie, but it’s not called a carrot pie — there aren’t nearly enough carrots for that — and neither should this ice fight be given the classification, “hockey game”.

Anyway. As I was saying, it’s difficult to know exactly where to begin, which is why I’ve chosen to begin at the beginning.

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Alex Burrows chugs his glove to mock Shane O’Brien, retains chirping title [VIDEO]

We’ve said it many times here at this blog: Alex Burrows is one of hockey’s great chirpers. It’s an impressive label, especially since the Canuck winger isn’t exactly one of hockey’s great English-speakers. Fortunately, what he lacks in intelligibility, he more than makes up for in his uncanny ability to get his point across nonverbally.

When it comes to the art of chirping, Burrows is Jean Claude Van Damme, which is to say, a little too French to tackle the great English monologue, but capable of stunning physical feats that cover the gap. (Can he do the most epic of splits? If it would incense one of his many nemeses, probably.)

Saturday night, Burrows was at it again, and even with his speech further impeded by the full face-shield he had to wear in his return from a broken jaw, he still managed to retain his title, mocking Shane O’Brien’s reputation as a bit of a party boy by chugging his glove like it was a flask.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Calgary Flames, January 18, 2014

Like the Arcade Fire without their lead vocalist, the Vancouver Canucks came into this game in desperate need of a win. Fortunately, through 48 games, the Calgary Flames are practically a dispensary of wins. You don’t even need a prescription. Their wins are over the counter, like weak codeine products.

The Canucks got what they came for too, although it wasn’t quite as easy as all that. This game was tense. Heck, it was, like the verb “was” itself, past tense. And speaking of proper tense usage, I did not watch this game — I watched this game.

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