Luongo, Lack cool things down as Luongo rumours heat back up

Considering what went down at the Heritage Classic, with the spotlight suddenly falling back on Roberto Luongo and his frayed relationship with this Canucks team, one would have been forgiven for thinking the goaltender had reached his breaking point — that he was about to go dark.

The fact that he wore a black tuque didn’t help anything at all. Was he in mourning? Was this the first sign of a full-on transformation into dark period Luongo, the birth of Roberto Luongoth?

Apparently not. He refused to speak on Sunday, but on Monday, Luongo seemed to have found the bright side of not playing in the Heritage Classic: there were no netcam shots of his backside in those cream-coloured pants.

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Big Numbers: Canucks don’t score much; could Kesler make history?

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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Daniel Sedin out, Darren Archibald up, as Canucks silly season continues

The Canucks lost far more than just a game on Sunday afternoon.

They lost the drama-free crease that’s been the lone bright spot in this season. They lost ground in the wild card race, giving up a game-in-hand to the Dallas Stars, who are tied with them at 66 points but have played three fewer games. They lost any shot at people looking on the Millionaires’ jerseys with fondness, after their second straight lackluster performance in the retro duds. And they lost the last ounce of optimism to which this fanbase was clutching, both because of all the aforementioned losses, and because of the one I haven’t mentioned yet.

The club also lost Daniel Sedin to a leg injury.

The winger injured his left leg during the second period of the Heritage Classic, and after staying down quite a bit, hobbled to the bench, and then the locker room. He did not return.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Ottawa Senators, March 2, 2014

Decked out in their Millionaires gear, the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday were supposed to be evocative of the last team to bring the Stanley Cup to the city a little over 99 years ago. It didn’t happen. With a completely avoidable goaltending controversy overshadowing everything (including, amazingly, their own marquee event), the Canucks had less in common with their century-old forerunners than they did last year’s team.

Honestly, it was incredible. This was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d seen this all before. There was a glitch in the Matrix when I watched this game.

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Eddie Lack starts Heritage Classic, as Canucks dust off the ol’ goaltending controversy

It’s been a weird year. Between John Tortorella’s Punch-Out, Alex Burrows’ goalless streak, the slumping Sedins, and the general decline of the Canucks, which has been so sharp Tom Sestito’s begun to look like a contributor, the patience of Canucks’ fans has been thoroughly tested.

And yet, through it all, we’ve been able to rest on one simple and wonderful thing: despite everything, at least there hasn’t been a goaltending controversy. It took some doing, but with Roberto Luongo finally reporting to camp, a smile on his face, Cory Schneider elsewhere, and new backup Eddie Lack happily, quietly, paying deference to his elder, all has been quiet in the Canucks crease.

Until this bolt from the blue paint.

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Stick in Link: It’s pretty much all Kesler today, as you might expect

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, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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So, how about that reported Ryan Kesler trade request? Pretty weird, huh?

The Canucks played their first game of the post-Olympic stretch on Wednesday night, and in a stark departure from the the seven games they played before it, they even won! Imagine that! Pretty neat, if you ask me.

But even despite coming away with two points for the first time in a month, few are talking about the busted slump today. Much more compelling than the players who played is the drama surrounding the dude that didn’t: Ryan Kesler, who was out with broken fingers after pounding a table in an aggressive trade demand, or something like that. I’m having a hard time keeping up.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. St. Louis Blues, February 26, 2014

It was always going to be a difficult transition from experiencing the wonder that was Team Canada to returning to Vancouver Canucks fandom. That’s a major adjustment. But fortunately, the Canucks didn’t drag things out. Rather than trying to ease us into things, perhaps by playing a dominant, fabulous brand of star-studded hockey for a little bit before eventually settling into their old selves, they just ripped off the band-aid, coming out and playing classic Canucks hockey, circa 2013-14, from the outset.

Lots of shots. Not much to show for it. mediocre powerplay. A reliance on Tom Sestito for offence. I can’t say it was a completely welcome return to normality, but what it was was true to life, and we here at Pass it to Bulis appreciate nothing if not verisimilitude. Apart from the win, which was a weird new wrinkle, everything was in its right place when I watched this game.

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The most embarrassing moment of the John Tortorella era happened yesterday

Ask most Canucks fans what the most embarrassing moment of John Tortorella’s brief tenure as Canucks’ coach has been and one incident is bound to spring to mind: the hot-tempered coach’s Oldboy moment, when he attempted to punch his way through a hallway of foes to exact vengeance against Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley.

But not if you ask me. For my money, the most embarrassing moment came Tuesday,

On the eve of the Canucks’ first game of the post-Olympic stretch, Tortorella attempted to clear up a minor firestorm he engendered last weekend, apologizing for his (apparently unconscionable) position on the Olympic gold medal hockey game.

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The Paper Feature: 7 reasons it’s better to cheer for the Canucks than Team Canada

And we’re back.

For three glorious weeks, the Vancouver Canucks effectively did not exist. Their scoring troubles, their inability to hold leads, their injury woes, their losing streak? During the Sochi Olympics, it was all quiet on the Western front, as Vancouver fans were gifted a much, much better team: a team with untold puck-movers, brilliant first-line centres, and, incredibly, two goalies of equal skill, one of which was Roberto Luongo, and yet no goalie controversy whatsoever. This is unheard of in Vancouver.

But now, as the players go back to their NHL teams, we have to do the same.

Don’t cry, Vancouver. If you’re down about this, you’re looking at things all wrong. Team Canada may have been near-flawless, but only near. There were some serious issues with that group — issues the Canucks simply don’t have. This may surprise you to hear, but it’s actually better to cheer for the Canucks right now, and I have reasons.

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Will the Olympics turn out to be a blessing or a curse for the Canucks?

“I love my teammates!” Roberto Luongo tweeted, along with the above photo, shortly after earning his second consecutive gold medal with Team Canada. Of course he does: his teammates include Sidney Crosby, Sidney Crosby’s little brother (“If you’re going to Sochi, take your little brother with you”, Crosby’s mom had said), Dan Hamhuis, Mike Smith, and the adorably huggable Marty St. Louis. How can you not love that team?

Of course, shortly after this photo was taken, these guys, with the exception of Dan Hamhuis, were no longer Luongo’s teammates. And now Luongo returns home to a much more troubled bunch, facing a much more daunting task than winning a short tournament for which they’re heavily-favoured.

As it stands, the Canucks aren’t a playoff team. But they could still turn it around. If they do, the Sochi sojourn will turn out to be a good thing for the club.

Mind you, if they don’t, the Olympics could take some of the blame, especially after Ryan Kesler returned from Russia with a hand injury. Will Sochi turn out to be a blessing or a curse?

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I Find This Photo Odd: Tortorella and Sullivan are not impressed

Dan Hamhuis returned yesterday to Vancouver an Olympic gold medallist. He didn’t play a whole lot in the tournament, and only saw one shift in the gold medal game — the final one, as Mike Babcock threw him a bone by sending him over the boards to watch the clock tick away from the ice — but there’s no doubt that he still values the experience.

It’s over now, however, and Hamhuis must immediately transition back from a team where he’s a little-used depth defender to a team where he’s the number one option, averaging 24:28 a night.

There are upsides and downsides to this. The upside: you play more. That’s fun. You certainly didn’t work your way up to the bigs just so you could attend games for free. The downside: playing more means more opportunities to make mistakes, and if you’re playing for John Tortorella and Mike Sullivan, that means more opportunities to draw nasty looks like this.

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I Watched This Game: Canada vs. USA

Friday morning’s contest between Canada and the United States was very reminiscent of the 2010 gold medal game in Vancouver, and not just because it ended with another one-goal win for Canada, the greatest nation on earth.

Actually, scratch that. That’s totally why. There were other similarities — the game was fast, the teams were the same — but really, this match was more reminiscent of Canada’s previous matches in this tournament versus Norway, Latvia and Finland, with Canada dominating for most of the match, even if the scoreboard said otherwise in the end. That’s impressive, because the USA is very different from, Norway, Latvia and Finland. They have much better players. Also more debt to China.

Like every other Canadian who was supposed to be working, I watched this game.

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Sidney Crosby is struggling: twenty reasons why

Team Canada has won all three of their games so far in Sochi, so naturally, everybody is panicking. The biggest concern: Sidney Crosby has yet to score all the goals and all the points, which makes no sense, since we built him to do exactly that.

Crosby was initially supposed to be paired with Chris Kunitz in this tournament, since Kunitz came pre-loaded with chemistry, but it didn’t work, and when it became apparent that Kunitz was only a star player when he wasn’t surrounded by other star players, he was bumped down the depth chart in favour of Patrice Bergeron and Jamie Benn. It still produced nothing.

Fortunately, Drew Doughty’s star turn was enough for Canada to get past Finland, but the nation is concerned that it won’t be enough going forward. Getting Sidney Crosby back to form is priority one, and that means finding him linemates with whom he clicks.

Why is this so difficult, though? Why does the best player in the world appear to struggle playing with others? Does he smell? Is it just a matter of small sample size? Is it luck, since Crosby is still generating a tonne of chances? Both B and C? (Probably.) But what if it’s something else? Here are 20 theories:

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I Watched This Game: Canada vs. Finland

The 2014 edition of Team Canada features one of the greatest collections of forwards in the history of the known universe. Sidney Crosby. Jonathan Toews. John Tavares. It’s a veritable murderer’s row (except not for baseball). So naturally, the leading scorer as we say goodbye to the group stage is defenceman Drew Doughty.

While Canada’s forwards continue to adjust to playing with players commensurate to their talents, Doughty looks like a superstar among superstars. And, while the forwards adjust to the big ice, Doughty appears to be in his element — his element being water, and in this case, the frozen kind. (Chris Kunitz’s element, meanwhile, is heart, because he brings little else to this group. But we’ll be glad to have him if we need to summon Captain Planet — or evil Captain Planet — during the elimination round.)

I was also in my element today. My element is couch. That’s where I was when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canada vs. Norway

Sitting down to watch Team Canada’s Olympic opener versus Norway, I had concerns. I’ve been watching the Canucks all year, and they are bad. In fact, every hockey team in Canada is pretty bad. Team Canada, on the other hand, is supposed to be pretty good. My fear, then, was this: could the bodies of Canadian hockey fans even handle the sudden adjustment from cheering for such a bad team to cheering for such a good team? That’s a very drastic ascent. What if we all got the bends?

Fortunately, Team Canada seemed to have the best interests of its nation in mind. Rather than storming out of the gate, cohesive and in synch from the first puck drop, they opened the tournament looking like a team that couldn’t even beat Norway. For fans of any of Canada’s seven hockey teams, it was refreshingly familiar. I am pleased to have avoided decompression sickness and joint stiffness while I watched this game.

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Team Canada cheat sheet: meet the blueline, goalies

Earlier today we introduced you to the forwards that make up the Team Canada roster. But the team is more than just its most exciting players. There are also defencemen and goalies on this team. Let’s meet them in much the same way.

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Team Canada cheat sheet: meet the forwards

The men’s Olympic hockey tournament, the crown jewel of the Winter Olympics, is just about to get underway. The whole world will be watching. That means you will be watching, since you are, presumably, of this world.

But oh no! You know nothing about hockey! That’s bad news, as hockey fans are a notoriously insular bunch, and when they sense an outsider, they have a propensity for mockery and shunnery of the highest order.

We would hate for that to happen. And so, in an attempt to keep you from being mocked and/or shunned, we have created this cheat sheet — a quick guide to Team Canada’s roster, which will help you to know who people are, and what to say during the game. We’ll begin with the forwards.

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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, 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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