I Watched This Game: Canucks vs New York Rangers, April 1, 2014

In honour of Alain Vigneault returning to Vancouver for the first time in the regular season since getting the boot last May, I will be using the word “real” throughout this intro, both correctly and incorrectly.

The Canucks were real good in this game, playing with a real intensity as they tried to keep their playoff hopes real alive. They got in on the forecheck real quick and created real scoring chances. They looked like a real hockey team with a real first line and for a real short time it was real exciting.

Unfortunately, it all came crashing down to earth in a real hurry. Even as they looked real good, they still couldn’t put pucks into the net, with the woeful power play giving the Canucks meagre playoff hopes one final kick in teeth, giving up a shorthanded goal to seal the loss. It may seem like this whole season has been a bad dream, but it’s real real. Also real real? The fact I watched this game.

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Alex Burrows suffers rare legal headshot, chips tooth eating granola bar, is the most cursed you can be

How cursed is Alex Burrows? Let us count the ways.

In his first game, he broke his ankle blocking a shot. He missed four weeks. Shortly after returning, he broke his jaw blocking a shot from a teammate — the muffin man Chris Tanev, at that. He missed six weeks. In a fight with Phil Kessel, which is the hockey equivalent of letting your cat go to town on your sleeve, Burrows sprained his hand.

And while all this is going on, Burrows can’t score. Tom Sestito scores five times. Zac Dalpe scores four. Down in Phoenix, a goalie scores. Meanwhile, Burrows can’t buy one.

Then, finally, when he does, scoring two in one game then three more in his next three, he suffers yet another injury after Shea Weber nearly chops his thumb off on a slash. And in his first game back from that ordeal, Wednesday night in Minnesota, the hockey gods decide he hasn’t had enough yet, and subject him to the rare, legal headshot:

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The Paper Feature: 14 ways for Alex Burrows to bump the slump once he returns

This article was originally written at the beginning of December and ended with the following convoluted way for Alex Burrows to bust out of the slump he was currently mired in: “Get a writer to pen an article about your scoring slump on Monday that is set to publish Wednesday when you have a game on Tuesday, thereby tempting fate and ensuring a goal on Tuesday.”

The article was written on December 2nd and was going to be published on December 4th. That last joke was just a way to hedge my bets in case I jinxed myself by writing an article about a scoring slump that could have ended before the article was published. Instead, I jinxed Alex Burrows, who had his jaw broken by an errant clearing attempt by Chris Tanev in the middle of the second period.

I thought there was no way for Burrows’ season to get any unluckier, considering he had taken 49 shots without scoring a single goal. He proved me wrong. Now we’re 47 games into the Canucks’ season and Alex Burrows has yet to score a single goal.

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”Season’s Tweetings: Alex Burrows vs Santa’, an original holiday tale

In what’s become something of an annual Christmas tradition, like watching Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York at the same time (by watching either one of them), we’ve put together a little poem that combines our love of hockey with our fondness of the holidays. Hope you enjoy it.

For past poems, check out Daniel’s Worst Christmas (2011) and Gary Bettman, Commissioner of Christmas (2012), or non-canon CFL tale, An Ode to Marty the Horse).

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Alex Burrows and the Sedins are soulmates; break them up at your peril

Alex Burrows will start Game 1 where he’s started so many games in the past: alongside the Sedins. Now, normally, this wouldn’t be all that notable. After all, it’s his usual spot. But John Tortorella entered training camp with a plan to get him off the Sedin line.

Makes sense when you think about it. Burrows’ deployment there was, after all, Alain Vigneault’s big innovation. If you’re angling to exact some kind of major change to the look of your lineup, especially after Mike Gillis opted to keep it mostly the same, roster-wise, then anointing a new third Sedin is definitely one way to make your mark.

But in the end, Tortorella appears to have discovered what Alain Vigneault realized shortly after the pairing came together: Alex Burrows is basically the Sedins’ soulmate.

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Every Goal, 2012-13: Alex Burrows

Why is Alex Burrows so sad in the above photo? Maybe it’s because he knows new coach John Tortorella plans to give his job, that plum position to the right of the Sedins, to Zack Kassian. Not cool, Torts.

For the past five seasons, Burrows has been to the twins what the Doomsday Device was to the Legion of Doom, or the Dudley Death Drop was to the Dudley Boyz: a legendary finisher. Ever since being paired with the pair, Burrows has been a lock for around 30 goals per season. That said, last season was his least productive in that role. It was the first time he’s failed to score at a 28-goal pace since 2008-09, his first season on the top line. So maybe it is time for a change?

If 2013 was Burrows’ last as the third Sedin, while it didn’t go as well as it normally does, it didn’t go too terribly, either. He finished the year with 13 goals, good for the Canucks’ team lead in scoring. Not too shabby — as ways to go out go, “on top” is always preferable. We close this year’s player-by-player look at every goal scored last season with the man they call Burr.

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Bonus hardware! Handing out the real end-of-year Canucks team awards

The Vancouver Canucks handed out their team awards on Thursday night prior to their lacklustre effort against the Anaheim Ducks. Henrik Sedin took home the Cyrus H. McLean award as the Canucks’ leading scorer and will keep it unless Daniel manages to score 6 points on Saturday against the Oilers without Henrik getting any.

Dan Hamhuis deservedly won the Babe Pratt award for best defenceman, Cory Schneider understandably won the Cyclone Taylor award as the team’s MVP, and Jannik Hansen simultaneously had his praises sung as the team’s Most Exciting Player and was named the team’s unsung hero with the Fred J. Hume award.

That just doesn’t seem like enough awards, so we put together seven more:

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20 reasons that Alex Burrows is really, really sad

Alex Burrows has a lot to be happy about these days. He’s about to get a $2.5 million raise, his team is heading into the playoffs with, if all goes well, home-ice advantage, and there are tentative plans for a charity tennis match between him and Milos Raonic in August, which is pretty dang cool.

Yes, life is good for Burrows and you would think that he wouldn’t have much to be sad about. Oh how wrong you would be, hypothetical person. As this picture from Jeff Vinnick’s Behind the Lens series at Canucks.com reveals, Burrows is super sad right now.

Here are 20 reasons why.

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Big Numbers: Freaky Sedins, Offensive Hamhuis and Identical Goaltenders

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. Here are some odd and interesting numbers and statistics from the Canucks season so far.

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When it comes to taking penalties, Alex Burrows is Mr. Versatility

The Canucks are taking far too many penalties this season. At least, that’s what it feels like just 18 games in. It doesn’t help that the Canucks are currently 19th in the NHL in penalty killing at 79.4%. Penalties tend to be a lot more memorable when a goal is scored during the subsequent powerplay.

Sunday’s game against the Red Wings is a good example. While there were certainly some questionable calls by the officials, it was the Canucks’ lousy penalty killing that helped make them part of the story of the game. With some better penalty killing in the second period, the Canucks would actually have had a chance to get a point out of that game instead of it becoming an 8-goal debacle.

Over the past couple seasons, the Canucks have had one of the league’s best penalty kills, which played a big part in their back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy wins. This season, the Canucks have given up 15 goals while shorthanded. At 5-on-4, they’re tied for the second most goals-against in the league. That has to be a combination of their poor penalty killing and taking too many penalties.

The biggest culprit so far has been Alex Burrows, who has found himself in the box far too often this season. This just makes matters worse, as he is also one of the Canucks’ best penalty killers.

Over at Backhand Shelf this morning, I looked at the trends in penalty minutes across the entire NHL. I’m going to do the same here, focussing on the Canucks.

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Alex Burrows loses a glove to Mikko Koivu, equipment thief [VIDEO]

Tuesday night’s contest between the Canucks and Wild may have been lacking in overall entertainment value, but the few highs made up for the many lows. All three goals scored in the game were top-notch, pretty goals, with Jannik Hansen’s tally the prettiest of them all, thanks to the efforts of Mason Raymond, Keith Ballard, and Jordan Schroeder. (Back off, Bieksa, you didn’t do anything. You just stood there.)

But there was one other thoroughly entertaining moment in the game. The Wild tried to get Alex Burrows off his game all night, starting in the first period when Zenon Kenopka tangled with the Canucks winger, leading to coincidental minors for the two of them. That was a bad trade-off for the Canucks, as Burrows has 131 more goals in his career than Kenopka. But Minnesota’s plan to agitate culminated in the oddest moment in the game, when Mikko Koivu straight-up jacked Burrows’s glove right off his hand.

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Zack Kassian isn’t fully benefiting from playing with the Sedins yet

Not long ago, the Canucks’ acquisition of a big power forward with a right-handed shot would have resulted in one reaction from fans: finally, someone to play with the Sedins.

It’s a testament to how well Alex Burrows has played with the Sedins that Canucks fans did not have that reaction when the Canucks traded for Zack Kassian. Instead, Kassian was projected as, at best, a second-line winger on the Canucks, someone to play alongside Ryan Kesler and David Booth. At worst, he could be a physical presence on the fourth line.

But now Kassian has been promoted to play on the top line and the early returns are impressive. Kassian leads the Canucks in goals with 5 in 7 games and is, in fact, tied for second in the NHL in goal-scoring. The thing is, most of that goal-scoring hasn’t exactly come as a result of playing with the Sedins, but there’s reason to believe that he will have success with them in the future.

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Relive Alex Burrows’ modified spin-o-rama, and by ‘modified’, we mean ‘really bad’ [VIDEO]

Over the past few years, Alex Burrows has established himself as one of the Canucks’ surest things on breakaways and penalty shots, most of the time by virtue of his “Blue Steel”, his go-to backhand move. We’ve celebrated it several times here on this blog, most notably in this post, which features a compilation of every single instance in which Burrows has used the move successfully.

Burrows is known for the move at this point, but as he himself said, it doesn’t matter — if he does it right, he’ll score. But it’s not entirely true. After all, the move only works because there’s still a possibility Burrows might do something else. If his going backhand shelf was 100% assured, goaltenders would simply overcommit to the right post and wait to get hit in the chest.

All that said, you can understand why Burrows might occasionally want to give goaltenders another look, and he certainly did so Monday night versus the Los Angeles Kings. His move — which involved a spin and a stutter-step before a hit post — seemed forgettable at the time, but a day later, people are still talking about it, debating both its legality and ridiculousness. So let’s take another look.

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The 10 best pictures of Canucks as kids

There is no better hockey-related Tumblr account in the entire world than NHL Players as Kids. Seeing pictures of big and tough hockey players as adorable, cherub-faced children is inherently hilarious. Making it even better is how many of them haven’t changed in the slightest and look almost exactly the same as they did when they were kids.

There are several Canucks represented on NHL Players as Kids and many of their pictures are awesome and need to be shared. So here I am, sharing them with you. That’s just how we roll here at PITB.

Without further ado, here are the 10 best pictures of current and former Canucks as kids:

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Alex Burrows, fashion icon and six Canucks fashion disasters

Alex Burrows is apparently a fashion icon. Canadian clothing store RW&Co. targeted the French-Canadian fashion maverick to headline their “Perform At Your Best” campaign, along with So You Think You Can Dance Canada champion Nico Archambault and entrepreneur Jeremy Gutsche.

Burrows reveals the secrets of his imitable style, describing it as “trendy but comfortable” and that he doesn’t “like to wear things that make a statement.”

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Watch four minutes of Alex Burrows scoring with the exact same flippin’ move (VIDEO)

Like Judy from “Family Matters”, Alex Burrows is best known for going upstairs. (Okay, maybe not best-known. You might remember him from such incidents as biting a guy, kneeing a guy in the groin, pulling a guy’s hair, getting revenged upon by an official, or taunting Mike Richards by miming a little recreational drug use. But after those things, Burrows’s forehand-backhand-roof deke totally has to be one of the first things that comes to mind.)

Burrows’s trusty forehand-backhand deke, which he uses so often we’ve taken to calling “Blue steel”, has resulted in some of the clutchiest clutch goals in Canucks’ history. Streak-breakers versus the Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings come to mind, but those are just two of sixteen times Burrows has turned on the red light with blue steel in his NHL career, according to blogging newcomers Bure’s Triple Deke.

But the gents at BTD didn’t just count them up: they compiled them in your must-watch Youtube video of the day.

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Alex Burrows’s contract extension just got Keslurked

Undeterred by his impending expendability, Alex Burrows re-upped with the Vancouver Canucks Friday, signing an extension worth $18 million. Fans were delighted to learn that they’ll get at least four more years of the finger-biting, dragon-slaying, hair-pulling former ECHLer.

The Canucks were likely delighted too, and not just because Burrows complements the Sedins so well, but because they were running out of time to get this one done. While it seemed like the two sides might be far apart earlier this week, they managed to find some middle ground just in time, inking the deal a little over an hour ahead of the 2pm deadline. (If only other negotiations could go so well, perhaps this deadline need not have even existed.)

Then, pleased as punch, they tweeted an instagrammed photo of Burrows and Jedi Laurence Gilman sneaking the extension in.

But one look at the photo shows that Burrows putting the pen to paper wasn’t the only instance of sneakery taking place.

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Terrified by Shane Doan making him expendable, Alex Burrows signs extension

Earlier today, News 1130 terrified Canucks fans with the possibility that the Canucks might not re-sign the beloved Alex Burrows. It must have terrified Burrows too, since only 3 hours later, the Canucks signed Burrows to a 4-year contract extension worth a total of $18 million, according to reports from Dan Murphy on Twitter.

Burrows has played his entire career for the Canucks and has shown a lot of loyalty to the team that gave him his shot in the NHL. Coming off a 28-goal, 51-point season in 2008-09, Burrows gave the Canucks a hometown discount, signing for 4 years at $2-million per year. He rewarded the Canucks by becoming one of the best bang for the buck players in the NHL, scoring 89 goals over the first three years of that contract.

It wasn’t just the quantity of goals, however, it was the quality. Burrows scored important goals for the Canucks, none bigger than his game 7 overtime gamewinner in round one of the 2011 playoffs, finally sending the Canucks past the Blackhawks after being bounced by them in the previous two years. It was that tendency that endeared him the most to Canucks fans.

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No, Virginia, signing Shane Doan doesn’t mean Alex Burrows is done in Vancouver

Canucks fans are on edge today, waiting to find out whether Shane Doan will be their new favourite player or not. With the news that Doan is down to deciding between Vancouver and Phoenix by 2:00 pm today, excitement and nervousness abound. While many are thrilled with the prospect of adding a player with Doan’s skill and experience, others have their concerns.

Doan will be 36 by the time the season starts; is he too far past his prime? He’s scored 30+ goals just twice in his career and has never scored a point-per-game; is he overhyped? He plays a hard-nosed, physical style; could injury problems crop up as his career comes to a close?

These are all valid concerns to discuss. Today, a new, completely invalid, concern was introduced to the conversation. Could the signing of Shane Doan signal the end of Alex Burrows?

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Who were Ryan Kesler’s best linemates last season?

Sometimes when I get curious enough about something to investigate it, digging up statistics and putting together charts, the answer turns out to be the obvious one. Fortunately, it can also turn up some other interesting information along the way.

Here’s the question I had: which wingers were most effective with Ryan Kesler last season? One of the big questions coming into this season is who should play on the second line with Kesler, once he returns too early? David Booth seems to have his spot all sewn up, but there are many competitors for the opposite wing, including Chris Higgins, Mason Raymond, Jannik Hansen, Zack Kassian, and Nicklas Jensen. Heck, if Shane Doan signs with the Canucks, you can add him and Alex Burrows to that list.

David Booth and Chris Higgins were Kesler’s most common linemates last season, but were they his most effective linemates? To get the answer, I did some WOWY (With Or Without You) analysis to see how Kesler performed with and without various linemates. In this case, the answer appears to be pretty definitively “yes.”

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Every Goal 2011-12: Playoffs

You didn’t think we could end the Every Goal series on such a positive note with Chris Higgins, right? You should know by now that things can never end well for Canucks fans. That is why the last post in our annual off-season Every Goal series will end with all 8 goals the Canucks managed to score during the 2012 playoffs versus the Los Angeles Kings.

On the plus side, we’re only looking back at the good parts, when the puck was going into the Kings’ net. If you squint and ignore the scoreboard, you can imagine that the Canucks won the series. While you’re at it, imagine that the NHL and NHLPA have concluded their CBA negotiations and that there won’t be a lockout to start next season.

In any case, the Canucks scored some pretty goals during the playoffs and they deserve to be remembered and highlighted. Seeing them outside of their disappointing context makes them a lot more enjoyable.

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Every goal, 2011-12: Alex Burrows, part three

Good news and bad news, friends: if you’re expecting a whole lot of Henrik-to-Daniel magic, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Half of the goals in the final instalment of Alex Burrows’s “Every Goal” entry are scored after Duncan Keith concussed Daniel Sedin with an elbow to the face.

On the bright side, Henrik remains in fine form on many of these goals, especially Burrows’s 26th, which I’m convinced would have gotten a ton more play if it had happened on the other side of the ice where the boards didn’t hide all the spiffy stickhandling.

Plus Burrows does pretty well for himself too. A number of these goals are as self-made as Don Draper. Enjoy.

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Every Goal, 2011-12: Alex Burrows, part two

I’m sure you’re expecting a lot of Sedinery in part two Alex Burrows’s “Every Goal” entry, but it’s not their party. Today’s clips really underscore what a star Burrows has become, from his goal versus the Maple Leafs, who paid dearly for underestimating him all year, to a goal versus the Avalanche that really shows his place in the Canucks’ locker room.

But also there’s a lot of Sedinery. Enjoy.

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Every goal, 2011-12: Alex Burrows, part one

Alex Burrows had a quiet year, but I don’t mean that quite the way it sounds. It’s not that he wasn’t good, or that he was ineffective — it’s that he was exactly as effective as he usually is.

Burrows’s role on the Canucks is so cemented now that he’s finally beginning to be listed as a right winger in some places. He’s a natural left winger and he’s even admitted to preferring to play that side, but for four years, he’s been the right winger for the Sedins. This year, people began to realize that three seasons as a right winger kind of sort of makes you a right winger.

It’s a small, but symbolic shift. This was Burrows’s fourth straight season above the 25-goal mark. He really is the guy he’s been for the last four years. But this means expectations change. A 28-goal campaign isn’t met with the surprise it was when he first did it in 2008-09. It’s about par. As a result, it seemed like a quiet year because we’re used to him surprising us.

It was still fun, though. Here are the first 10 goals of Alex Burrows’s 28 in 2011-12.

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Burrows scores for Canada in disappointing quarter-final loss to Slovakia

For a moment, it looked like Alexandre Burrows’ incredible story was going to have another amazing chapter. In Canada’s must-win quarter-final against Slovakia, Burrows scored his third goal of the tournament, putting Canada up 3-2. It looked like it might stand up as the game winner and carry Canada to the semi-final.

Instead, a series of poor decisions cost Canada the lead, then cost Canada the game.

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