I Watched This Game: Canucks 2, Sharks 6

The Canucks had a chance to win this game. And then it began.

You’ve got to feel for Jacob Markstrom, who battled valiantly to get back to the NHL after the Canucks placed him on waivers at the beginning of the season and saw him pass through to the minors without incident. He played excellently for the Utica Comets, and absolutely deserved the opportunity to show off his revamped game. But alas, he didn’t get the chance. After three goals on his first four shots, Markstrom was on the bench, Lack was in the crease, and the game was, for all intents and purposes, in the books.

Like Jacob Markstrom in his first start of 2015, I watched this game.

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Reaction to Baertschi move shows Jim Benning still has trust of Canucks faithful

Jim Benning is never going to have an 100% approval rating, and sure enough, there are some that feel he missed the boat on Monday’s trade deadline. The trade for Sven Baertschi? That was fine, although it stood in opposition to Benning’s professed love of draft picks.

But there was a chance for him to accrue several more in the deadline frenzy, especially with Shawn Matthias scoring non-stop as he approaches unrestricted free agency, and Chris Higgins and Kevin Bieksa being exactly the sort of veteran glue guys playoff teams love

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Stick in Link: Baertschi overhyped in Calgary; Eddie Lack loves ‘corn boats’

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 play it safe on deadline day, buy a couple lotto tickets in Cory Conacher, Sven Baertschi

In the days leading up to the 2015 NHL trade deadline, most speculated that the Canucks were going to remain somewhat neutral. It was the right approach. While the team is in a playoff position, they’re hardly running away with it — heck, if not for the mediocrity of their division this season, they’d be just barely hanging on to the second Wild Card spot. Instead, they’re five points clear of third place in the Pacific.

Thus, it’s hardly worth “going for it”, as they say. Elite teams go for it. But it’s also not worth throwing in the towel. After all, if the hockey gods are going to hand the Canucks a playoff spot, well, you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, and neither do you trade it for prospects and picks.

Hence, the team decided to let this team do whatever it’s capable of as assembled, and remained mostly neutral on trade deadline day. And nothing speaks to a team’s commitment to neutrality like adding yet another Swiss player.

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The Paper Feature: I went on vacation and now everything about the Canucks is different

My Iron Fan streak came to an end this week.

Prior to the Canucks’ visit to New Jersey on the 20th of February, I hadn’t missed a game in nearly two years, putting together an Iron Fan streak of 164 contests. Now, admittedly, it’s not exactly Henrik Sedin going 679 games strong, especially since it’s tough to pick up an injury on the couch in one’s pyjamas, but still — 164 games is a pretty decent little run. If you’ve got me beat, I applaud you.

But on the 20th, I missed my first of four in a row, as the Canucks went on a road trip out east, and I did the same down the California coast, choosing to keep my phone and computer shut down for the duration of my vacation. Good idea, right?

Terrible idea.

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Canucks of the week, starring the immovable Jake Virtanen

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 3, Sabres 6

That headline isn’t a joke. Nor is it a typo or a bad dream. The Canucks actually surrendered six goals to the Buffalo Sabres. It’s just the first time since November — and only the second time this season — the Sabres have scored five. And it gives Buffalo their first consecutive wins since mid-December. In other words, this shouldn’t have happened. The Canucks just lost to the 2001 Atlanta Thrashers.

But we should have seen it coming, and not just because the Canucks are consistently finding ways to surprise us this season, but because this road trip was never really a road trip. It was a tour of vengeance, like the events of Kill Bill. The Canucks’ only focus was in defeating the teams that had defeated them in a Stanley Cup Final. The Rangers? Done. The Bruins? Done. Even the Islanders’ 1982 win was avenged. But Buffalo, like New Jersey, has no real beef with Vancouver. And so they were spared. I, however, was not when I watched this game.

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Game of the Week: Canucks vs Islanders, February 22

The Canucks have three stops remaining in their five-game swing through the Northeast: Long Island, Boston, and Buffalo. All three have the potential to be a lot of fun, albeit for very different reasons.

The important thing to keep in mind with the Sabres is that you’re not just watching a bad team. You’re watching a historically bad team. It’s like watching any M. Night Shyamalan movie after Unbreakable. It’s not just bad. It’s so bad, it’s a cultural moment. You shouldn’t watch it as a film buff, but you should watch it as a member of the culture. You want to be able to say you saw it. Same goes for these Sabres. Tune in.

But they’re not the team I’m most excited to see.

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Real Good Tweets, starring classic @DarrylDyck photo, ‘Canucks in Chaos’

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

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Big Numbers: Canucks could make playoffs with .500 hockey; more loser points, please

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 Alex Biega’s shot, and Zack Kassian’s latest inexplicable scratch

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 Find This Photo Odd: Zack Kassian stars in an unflattering sign

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that we can’t resist a good fan sign. Nor can we resist chuckling or getting all huffy about a bad fan sign.

But we’re not quite sure how to feel about this sign, from Monday night’s game versus the Minnesota Wild. Is it good or bad? We’ll let you decide.

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Stick in Link: Show Chris Tanev the money (then give him a bunch); Sedins as mentors

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 3, Wild 2

You had to know the Canucks were going to win this one. The team has made a habit in recent weeks of defying our expectations, marching past the Bruins, Blackhawks and Penguins in a seven-day span while also managing to inexplicably squeeze in a loss to the Minnesota Wild. So of course, in a rematch with those same Wild, the only difference being that half the Canucks’ defence is hurt now, they were going to come out on top.

Not to mention Vancouver is completely incapable of putting together a streak right now — in either direction. They can’t win consecutive games. They can’t lose consecutive games. So it doesn’t even matter that they were without their top pairing, the co-MVPs up to this point. They’re nothing if not inconsistent, and that meant following up Saturday’s loss with a win. There was really nothing the Wild could do. I was pleased with the Canucks’ predictable unpredictability when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 2, Flames 3

It’s Valentine’s Day, the day when you cozy up to that special person in your life and offer up the romantic gestures that you’re obligated to do on this most romantic of occasions. But what if you don’t have someone special? Why, then you check in with your old flames, in the hopes that one of them doesn’t either and they need someone with whom to commiserate.

That’s essentially what the Canucks did tonight, hooking up with one of their old Flames, the old Flames — the Flames who played meaningful games against them in February, games with playoff implications and the like. It’s been a while since the Canucks and Flames last hooked up for a game like this. But it felt so familiar, so comfortable. Maybe they’ll get back together? The old chemistry is still there, that’s for sure. That’s what I noticed when I watched this game.

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The Paper Feature: What should the Canucks do at the trade deadline?

We’ve spent much of this season trying to determine what, exactly, these Vancouver Canucks are. A contender? A pretender? A third thing that fits the rhyme scheme? It’s been hard to say, especially as the Canucks continue to match last season’s point totals.

But the team is finally beginning to stray from the 2013-14 script, albeit not in a way that really helps to sort out whether they’re good or bad. At the time of this writing, they’re 5-5-0 in their last ten, and they’ve been alternating wins and losses for eight straight. What are we to make of a team that hands the Pittsburgh Penguins their collective butt, then goes to Minnesota and lets the Wild hand-deliver their collective butt? Are the Canucks butt-handers or butt-handees?

Fortunately, as fans, we can continue to debate this ad infinitum, without consequence. If I say aloud that the Canucks are bona fide contenders, the worst that will happen to me is someone will tweet nastily in my direction, and that’s going to happen regardless. But for the Canucks’ front-office, they actually need to make an assessment.

And quickly. The NHL trade deadline is under three weeks away now, and what Vancouver does will hinge on what their GM, president, and coach think of their ability to hold onto a playoff spot down the stretch and potentially compete once there. Do they add? Do they subtract? Do they… I dunno, multiply? Let’s examine their trade deadline options.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 5, Bruins 2

On the eve of Valentine’s Day, only hours before puck drop, Shawn Matthias sat down with his beloved.

“Love bug,” he said, “Of all the gifts, what most would you like to be gifted this Valentine’s?”

“500 hats,” she said, greedily. “Like Bartholomew Cubbins.”

“Nerts!” Matthias said quietly to himself. “It’s the day before Valentine’s and I have a game in three hours! How will I ever get 500 hats, of varying shapes, sizes and colours, on such short notice?”

And then he had an idea.

I watched this game.

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Breakdowning Daniel Sedin’s dizzying overtime goal versus the Blackhawks

Say what you will about the Sedins’ gradually declining five-on-five effectiveness, but I’d still take them over just about any other duo four-on-four. With more room to operate, the Sedins hit peak Sedin, and the result tends to be magic.

Which is likely why Daniel Sedin is the Canucks’ franchise leader in overtime goals, with 12, and why, on Wednesday, Daniel became just the fourth NHLer to score his third overtime tally this season — the others being John Tavares, Sean Monahan, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

The goal is vintage Sedins, so vintage Main Street hipsters have been wearing it like a coat ever since. The Sedins cycle the puck in the corner until the Blackhawks are dizzied, then, in a flash, they bring the puck to the net with one well-placed saucer pass, and the next thing you know, the game is over.

That’s the short breakdown. But this one is too pretty for just a passing glance. Let’s dig into it a little bit.

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Canucks of the Week, in which John Tortorella 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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John Tortorella breaks the silence, says he deserved to get fired, which, yeah

You might remember John Tortorella from such Vancouver Canucks eras as the Torts-ture Era, a brief blip on the franchise’s radar in 2013-14 in which they played sorta well, then really poorly, then so disastrously poorly that Tortorella became the first Canucks head coach to be sacked before his 100th game since Bill LaForge’s 20-game stint in 1985.

We haven’t heard much from Tortorella since then, but on Friday, he emerged from his Tortress of Solitude to do a radio appearance on Tampa Bay’s 620 WDAF. Unsurprisingly, since these guys know what’s up, he was asked for his thoughts on his ugly run in Vancouver.

Among the quotes you should expect to see floating around today: ““Quite honestly, I deserved to be fired after that second half of the year,” Tortorella said, correctly.

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Stick in Link: Canucks claim McMillan; Yannick Weber bring special celebrity dad on road trip

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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Winnipeg Jets and the blockbustery day: Canucks were never really in the running for Kane

For the second time in the last 45 years (it’s becoming an alarming pattern!), the Buffalo Sabres have taken that which is rightfully ours.

Not unlike when they stole the 1st overall pick from the Canucks in the 1970 draft by means of witchcraft, the Sabres made a massive trade splash on Tuesday, snatching up disgruntled hometown boy Evander Kane right from under the Canucks’ nose in a blockbuster deal.

Heading to Buffalo: Evander Kane, defenseman Zach Bogosian and goalie Jason Kasdorf. Headed to Winnipeg: Tyler Myers, winger Drew Stafford, prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux and one of the innumerable 2015 first-round picks the Sabres turned up as they continue to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

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Sedins get apology from Stars’ Jamie Benn, the end

Let’s be honest: nobody wanted to talk about that awful Minnesota Wild game. So it was an infuriating blessing when Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin’s comments on a jocky Dallas radio station, in which the duo played along with a riff on the Sedins that suggested some pretty offensive and crude things, came to light. The city of Vancouver talked mostly about that yesterday instead. Wild game? What Wild game?

But with the Canucks playing the Blackhawks on Wednesday evening, it’s time to retire this story, and wouldn’t you know it, right on cue, it received the ending it deserves, with Jamie Benn doing his captainly duty and reaching out to the Sedins to apologize.

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Stars’ Seguin, Benn disrespect, insult Sedins on Bad Radio [AUDIO]

There was a time when one could argue that Daniel and Henrik Sedin were the most dynamic and dominant duo in the Western Conference. That time is probably over, mind you, what with the Sedins aging, and their speed of attack and point totals dropping in what one suspects is a correlative relationship.

Meanwhile, as they get older, the young stars of the game stay the same age. These days, one could probably point to, say, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars as the most dangerous one-two punch in the West. They’re faster, more dynamic, and younger.

Of course, with age comes maturity, so while you might take Benn and Seguin on the ice right now, in a broadcast studio, I’ll take the veteran, intelligent Sedins and their ability to know when a conversation is veering into dumb and offensive territory and either steer it back towards reason or shut it down. This is a skill that Benn and Seguin have yet to master, as evidenced by a recent appearance on The Bob and Dan Show (which is also aptly called BaD Radio).

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 3, Wild 5

What’s worse? Watching this game, or watching this game two nights after watching the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins — a win so convincing you wondered if embarrassing evenings like this loss were in the past? It’s sort of amazing. If this loss to the Minnesota Wild had followed the loss to the Sharks, it might have been met with a collective shrug, as everybody acknowledged that this is just who the Canucks are right now. We were already on our way to accepting that, after all.

the Penguins’ game left us wondering if, perhaps, that’s who the Canucks were, and maybe it was the Sharks game that was an aberration. It turned us around. And then — and maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think I’m alone here — the frustration that followed this loss was exacerbated by a sense of naivete, like it was silly to think the Canucks would be able to pick up where they left off versus Pittsburgh. The joke was on me when I watched this game.

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