Spitballin’ on Alberts re-signing, snarky Whitecaps, and prospects scoring beautiful goals

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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Who are the Canucks’ best penalty killers?

While the Canucks have been a mess on the powerplay this season and have been inconsistent defensively at even-strength, the one area that has been a strength all season long has been the penalty kill. The Canucks have allowed more than one powerplay goal in a game just three times this season and haven’t done so since February 24th against the Detroit Red Wings.

Once the Canucks had some actual centres in Ryan Kesler and Derek Roy, the penalty kill got even better, going seven straight games and 25 opportunities without allowing a goal against. As a result, the Canucks finished 8th in the NHL in penalty kill percentage at 84%. It’s been one of the most consistent areas for the Canucks, killing off 86% last season and 85.6% the season before.

It’s sometimes tough to tell who on the Canucks is most responsible for their shorthanded success. Goaltending obviously plays a big role and it’s assumed that coaching is vital, but which defencemen and forwards have been the best on the penalty kill for the Canucks?

It’s harder to figure out than you’d think.

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Breakdowning Mason Raymond’s first period goal against the Nashville Predators

When the Canucks score 7 goals in a game, it’s tough to know which one to break down. We even had calls on Twitter to break down Henrik Sedin’s gorgeous penalty shot goal or Maxim Lapierre’s slick breakaway marker. As nice as those goals were, it’s more than a little difficult to break down a goal when it’s just one skater and a goalie. It would just be one screen shot with the breathtaking analysis of, “Well, you see, he did something the goalie didn’t expect him to do and the puck…well, it went in.”

It seemed obvious to me which one needed the full Breakdowning treatment: Mason Raymond’s seventh goal of the season, which came on a beautiful passing play that incorporated every single Canucks skater on the ice.

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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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Every goal, 2011-12: Andrew Alberts

There are some people who were put on this Earth by God to score goals in hockey. Andrew Alberts is not one of those people. Alberts’ purpose in hockey is tied to his size. Because he’s 6’5″ and weighs 215+ lbs, he’s expecting to throw punishing hits and clear out crease crashers. As a stay-at-home defender, he’s expected to use his reach to take away the opponents’ space to maneuver and cut off passing lanes. When he’s at his best, he should be unnoticeable except for the opposition forwards lying in his wake.

Thing is, when you’re a kid playing road hockey, you seldom dream about making the game-winning pokecheck. You don’t give the running play-by-play of your perfect gap control. More than anything else, you dream about scoring the big goal. I’m guessing Alberts was the same way, but things don’t always turn out the way we hope.

But in two games this season, Alberts got to live that dream. While he only scored 2 goals, they were both gamewinners. For once, Alberts was the noticeable hero. Here are those two goals.

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In light of the Canucks’ disastrous trip to Boston, we expect some significant line-up tweaks from the occasionally esteemed Coach Vigneault. During the last Canucks’ meltdown (the first round near suicide swoon against Chicago), we threw out some ideas for roster changes (see our April 23rd posting where we recommended reuniting Ryan Kesler and Alex [...]

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