Spitballin’ on Luongo staying put, Post-op Kesler, and Ted Nugent’s support for Booth

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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Spitballin’ on sweeping Kings, Kesler’s shoulder, and Skittle Burrows

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 top 10 bloopers of the Canucks’ 2011-12 season

Some hockey games yield great stories, heroes, big goals, and clutch plays. This post is not about those games. This post celebrates weirdness, a quality of which the 87 games of the Vancouver Canucks’ 2011-12 season (and playoffs) had in spades. In fact, there were enough odd little moments this year for us to create a list of our favourite 10 bloopers of the 2011-12 season. What follows is a countdown of the funniest, oddest, and most unexpected stuff that happened on the ice during those 87 games.

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Seven more amazing Ryan Kesler tumbleweed gifs

The Canucks’ 2012 Stanley Cup run may have ended after only 5 games, but the Ryan Kesler tumbleweed meme is still going strong. If you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s what you need to know: in Game 1 of the Canucks’ series with the Los Angeles Kings, Kesler perpetrated perhaps the greatest dive of the post-lockout era. He fell to the ice, he flailed, he lost his stick, and he bounced lightly like a tumbleweed. It was amazing.

The photoshop wizards over at the HF Boards latched onto Kesler’s ever-so-slightly embellished tumble in a big way, splicing him into all sorts of scenes. We featured our six favourites about a week ago, but the guys have clearly yet to run out of ideas. With that in mind, we thought it only right to put together a second gallery. Enjoy.

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Bieksa and Kesler fan videos are a crazed fever dream

With the Canucks down 3-0 in their first round series against the Los Angeles Kings, fans are looking for something to distract them from their favourite team’s playoff woes. Fortunately, these two fan videos for Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler are plenty distracting.

Originally made back in May of 2011 for last year’s run to the Stanley Cup Final, they somehow escaped our notice. I have no idea how we missed them first time around, because they are completely insane and awesome.

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The Kings apologize for harmless tweet; Canuck fans need to develop thicker skin

In case you’re still stewing with outrage over the sheer audacity of the Los Angeles Kings Twitter account, I want you to know that they have heard your cries. Thursday afternoon, the Kings apologized for the tweet, which was, of course, heinous. It was in poor taste to suggest the Sedins were women, claim Francophones such as Alain Vigneault and Alex Burrows should be exiled to France, call Cory Schneider a ginger, and make a riot joke all in one tweet.

Wait, that’s not what happened? They merely suggested the rest of Canada was rooting against the Canucks? Then why is the outrage-o-meter bordering on aneurysmal? Because that’s just true.

Earlier this week, I predicted that we might see a redemption narrative take shape this year in the national coverage, especially since the Canucks had scaled back the embellishment, Maxim Lapierre had become a fighter, and the whole group was tougher and less powerplay-reliant. But, one game into the Stanley Cup playoffs, I can already say that I was wrong.

I didn’t expect Byron Bitz to hit a guy in the head (and neither did he, judging from his contrition this morning); it was a surprise that Ryan Kesler decided to pick Game 1 of the postseason to ratchet up the fakery, something we’ve hardly seen at all from him this season; and I wholly underestimated the way that hating the Canucks had become a national pastime, something the Kings’ social media guy clearly gets, and Canuck fans might want to get used to.

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Spitballin’ on gas station sandwiches, Chicago Wolves specialty jerseys, and that dancing kid

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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Tanev, Kesler, Gilman — who is this year’s big trade deadline winner?

Last year, as the dust from the trade deadline settled, we noted that, the big winner for the Canucks had to be Tanner Glass, who had spent most of the 2010-11 season playing with a revolving cast of linemates. Before injuries necessitated some line juggling, the acquisitions of Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre were supposed to round out the lineup, complement Glass, and give the Canucks a fourth line that could play. It would have been nice.

So who is this year’s Tanner Glass? We submit to you the following three candidates: Chris Tanev, Laurence Gilman, and Ryan Kesler.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at New Jersey Devils, February 24, 2012

One night after accomplishing the nigh-impossible in Detroit, defeating the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, Vancouver set out to unlock an even more elusive achievement: winning a game with offence exclusively by Aaron Rome and Mason Raymond. It wasn’t easy, but after becoming the first road team in 24 tries to leave Michigan with two points, the Canucks were clearly feeling capable of anything.

Granted, it wasn’t exactly an exciting accomplishment to witness, especially after the high standard of entertainment set in the game prior. As sequels go, this was the Staying Alive to Thursday’s night’s Saturday Night Fever. Yes, I have seen both films. I have also seen this game, because I watched this game.

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Drance Numbers: Harry Potter plays soft minutes; the Sedins play optimized minutes

The Canucks blogosphere (lovingly called the Smylosphere by those working within it) has been talking about zone-starts and what they tell us about this team for well over a year now. Lately, however, the conversation has gone mainstream, and articles and broadcast segments about this topic are beginning to appear in places like Hockey Night in Canada and the Vancouver Province. Between the team’s sustained run of success, the uniqueness of their zone-start deployment patterns and, hopefully, several well argued blog-posts on the subject, more people are coming around to the idea that this stuff matters.

But the data remains somewhat problematic, especially for Corsi skeptics. Where shifts begin has a demonstrable impact on possession stats, sure, but what about production? Gabe Desjardins, who runs Behindthenet.ca, suggested that the Sedins benefit from being sheltered to the tune of 7-9 points per season, but that figure was questioned elsewhere.

One of the key things I use zone-starts for when writing about the Canucks is that, if nothing else, they tell a story. If a head coach is relying heavily on a particular skater to start more shifts in his own end when the team is on the road, that’s a pretty good indicator that the coach has a lot of trust in that player’s two-way game.

To put it most simply, zone-starts and quality of competition metrics have improved our understanding of “how NHL players are deployed.” As a result, hockey math nerds have come up with labels over the years to more accurately qualify and describe the roles of certain players. I figured it might be instructive to go through them.

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Breakdowning: Fire drill on the penalty kill in Nashville

The Nashville Predators don’t seem like an offensively-gifted hockey team. Built from the net out with an emphasis on defence and one of the lowest payrolls in the league, they simply haven’t sunk a lot of money into big offensive talent. You would think this lack of high-end scoring punch would be especially apparent on the powerplay.

Nope. The Predators have the second best powerplay in the NHL, behind only the Vancouver Canucks. And, given the way the Canuck powerplay has performed recently, the Predators might actually be the best team in the league with the man advantage these days. On Tuesday, they showed exactly why that might be the case, making one of the best penalty kill units on one the best penalty-killing teams look completely foolish.

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The Canucks Bleacher Creatures are all abominations

This past fall, the NHL joined the NBA, the MLB, and the NFL in partnering with Bleacher Creature Toys, a company based in Pennsylvania that turns the sporting world’s most popular athletes into plush dolls. Now, anybody can snuggle up with a Sidney Crosby, Henrik Lundqvist, or Patrick Kane doll, provided they’re willing to drop $25. (Of course, you could probably do that with the real Patrick Kane for free, especially if you’re an unbelievable blonde.)

There are currently 23 Bleacher Creatures available in the NHL store, and 3 of them are Canucks: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Ryan Kesler. They’re all terrible.

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Vigneault/Kesler tiff falls short of a spat or quarrel

fter the disappointing loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night, Canucks’ coach Alain Vigneault was asked about the performance of Ryan Kesler, who has been struggling of late. With just 3 points in his last 8 games, Kesler has not looked like his dominant self.

Part of Vigneault’s response was that Kesler needs “to use the players around him a little bit more so he can get into open space.”

Understandably, the media wanted to get Kesler’s take on the issue, so they cherry-picked the statement and brought it to the Canucks’ centre to see what he had to say. He was a little miffed:

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Anaheim Ducks, December 29, 2011

Just like last season, the Canucks opened their California road trip a perfect 2-0 and, just like last season, the second win came over the Anaheim Ducks on the second night of a back-to-back. But the similarities don’t end there.

In both Anaheim games, Cory Schneider got the start and the win, the Canucks scored the first goal a minute in, and Daniel Sedin scored the final Vancouver goal, beating Dan Ellis and stretching the lead to three. Of course, there were some differences. For instance: I attended last year’s game. I watched this game.

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Breaking down Ryan Kesler’s second goal from the 4-1 victory in Ottawa

In the postgame scrum following the Canucks’ 4-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators, Alain Vigneault described Dale Weise’s end-to-end rush as “phenomenal,” and while I don’t disagree that it was an impressive individual effort, it wasn’t my favourite goal of the game.

Nice as it was, I was far more taken with the one that preceded it: Ryan Kesler’s second goal of the game, which stretched the lead to 3-0. It was both a fantastic example of the strengths of the Canucks’ first powerplay unit and a comedy of errors for the Ottawa penalty kill. Let’s break it down.

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Spitballin’ on more Luongo misfortune, spam accounts, Behind the Lens

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 topics that deserve mention.

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Ryan Kesler on Blake Comeau: Canuck hit of the year?

One of the loveliest moments of the Canucks’ performance Sunday night versus the Flames was Ryan Kesler’s thundering open-ice hit on Blake Comeau. Midway through the first period, with the Canucks on a powerplay, the puck came to Comeau at the side boards, and he attempted to clear the zone. Unfortunately, only a split second after the puck arrived, Ryan Kesler did as well. He absolutely flattened Comeau.

Now Before you say “Not sure what Comeau’s so upset about”, keep in mind that, clean as this hit was, Comeau probably still didn’t enjoy it all that much. Canuck fans likely did, however, especially since, with Raffi Torres now in Phoenix, these hits are a little less frequent than they were last year. But don’t be misled: this wasn’t the only one. Hit of the year though it might have been, there are indeed other candidates. Here are five.

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Team America is beginning to look good, even at hockey

Safe to say Sunday night’s 5-1 victory over the Calgary Flames was a coming-out party for the line of Chris Higgins, David Booth, and Ryan Kesler. The trio combined for 8 points in the win — 1 goal and 2 assists for both Higgins and Booth, and 2 assists for Kesler — and each was named one of the game’s three stars.

An explosive and productive game of this sort was only inevitable. The line has been noticeable since Alain Vigneault put them back together five games ago versus the Phoenix Coyotes: Booth has five points in that span (3 G, 2 A), Kesler has 7 (2 G, 5 A), and Higgins has six (1 G, 5 A) and is riding a four-game point streak.

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I Find This Photo Odd: Ryan Kesler climbs the net

Thursday night’s 6-5 Canuck loss versus the Nashville Predators was jam-packed with oddities. There was the offensive outburst, as the two teams combined for 11 goals, only three fewer than their entire season series last year. There was the goalie no-show, as Cory Schneider’s hot streak came to a screeching halt with 3 goals on 5 shots and Roberto Luongo only fared marginally better. And, of course, there was that strange little moment when Ryan Kesler scaled the net.

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I Find This Photo Odd: Ryan Kesler, slappin’ de bass

Some of you may remember the photo of Cory Schneider that we turned into three galleries worth of the backup netminder playing every stringed instrument under the sun with the gusto of Andrew Bird. Not simply content to splice guitars into his hands, we shopped in lutes, dulcimers, keytars, and a giant submarine sandwich. It was really stupid.

That said, it’s also the bread and butter of PITB. If we see a photo in which a guy looks like he’s playing an invisible guitar or relaxing on an invisible couch, well, we’re gonna chop the missing item in. It’s with that ethos in mind that we present this Ryan Kesler photo.

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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 topics that deserve mention.

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Drance Numbers is the silly research wing of PITB. While Messrs. Wagner and Mooney blog nationally and solve mysteries, Drance Numbers will look into the minutiae of quantifiable NHL data and bore you with it every Friday. Today, Drance looks at Ryan Kesler’s remarkable special teams contributions.

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Jannik Hansen just got Keslurked

It’s official: Ryan Kesler has an addiction. Only two days after going on a Keslurking spree at the 12th annual Sports Celebrities Festival — a spree that, for many, might satisfy the urge to bomb for quite awhile — Kesler was right back at it, Keslurking Jannik Hansen’s postgame interview with Joey Kenward.

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Attendees of the 2011 Sports Celebrities Festival just got Keslurked

The Canucks were at the Vancouver Convention Centre Thursday night for the the 12th annual Sports Celebrities Festival, a charity event co-organized by the Vancouver Canucks and Special Olympics BC. The evening featured dinner, silent auctions, video games, and plenty of opportunities to pose for photos with members of the Canucks and the individual awards they won last season.

Of course, by now you probably know how this works: if Ryan Kesler is at an event where cameras are in use, he’s gonna sneak in a couple Keslurks, and Thursday night was a shenanigan-heavy affair.

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As you may know, we at PITB are fans of a well-made pump-up video, and “Cinderella Man” a recently uploaded tribute to Ryan Kesler by one MrNHLFanatic, is exactly that. If you weren’t already pumped for Kesler to rejoin the team tonight after allowing his tragically torn hip to Fully Completely heal (in which case, what’s wrong with you?), watch this video. It will get you hyped.

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