Seven forwards who could come out of the lineup to make room for Alex Burrows

Alex Burrows’ three-game suspension is over, and the Canuck winger is set to return Thursday night in San Jose. But this poses a problem: in order for Burrows to come in, someone is going to have to come out, and with the way the Canucks are clicking, especially after Tuesday night in Colorado, it’s tough to justify any subtractions from their current group of 12.

Sometimes it’s easy. For instance, if you’re feeling frugal this Christmas, spare your love the ten lords a-leaping. No one needs that many jumpy landowners. And it was pretty clear that Judas was the disciple that needed to go. But this duodecad is proving more difficult to trim down. Who comes out? Shawn Matthias? Matthias, after all, was the name of the disciple that replaced Judas, so he’s a natural odd man out. Jannik Hansen? Most other teams in the NHL are surviving without a Danish player.

Those two would have been the most likely forwards until Tuesday, when both played pivotal roles in the come-from-behind win. Matthias scored his first of the season, and Hansen played his best game of the year, arguably, helping to create the tide-shifting 2-1 goal for Vancouver.

So it’s tough. But in the interest of helping out the coaching staff, I’ve put together a list of seven forwards that could easily be benched, with airtight justifications for each.

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Canucks to play rare hockey game on Friday

The Vancouver Canucks hockey team — that’s what they are, it turns out, a hockey team — will play a hockey game contest match Friday night, according to sources.

You’ll forgive our skepticism, and our need to attribute this information to a source. It’s just been so long since they last played that we had begun to suspect that, perhaps, they don’t actually play hockey, that maybe they never played hockey, that the Canucks are a shared delusion, a product of the tainted water of English Bay getting into us, warping our consciousness, telling us lies. As time passed, and their last game drifted further and further into the past, it became less an event that had truly occurred and more a myth. And some, myself included, began to disbelieve.

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Seven guys who weren’t on the Canucks last year

The Vancouver Canucks promised change this offseason, and true to their word, the 2014-15 roster features a bevy of new faces. A quick glance at the announced opening-day roster yields a number of unfamiliar names.

That in mind, here are seven guys who weren’t on the Canucks last year.

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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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After moral victories, 20 other victories the struggling Canucks could enjoy

When the Canucks lost 1-0 to the Los Angeles Kings back in mid-January, they didn’t seem all that worried about the score. They felt they had accomplished something more important in establishing a physical identity and standing up for each other as a team.

It was a moral victory.

The only problem is that they didn’t follow up that moral victory with actual victories — the type that show up under the W column in the standings. Since there’s no M column for Moral Victories in the NHL standings, the Canucks have slid down to the second wild card spot and are close to sliding right out of the playoff picture altogether.

If the Canucks can’t manage actual victories, they should at least try to get something other than moral victories, so here are 20 other victories they can aim for throughout the rest of the season, with help from PITB’s amazing Twitter followers.

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Other things we can blame on that jersey-throwing Blackhawks fan

As if it wasn’t enough to have to watch the Vancouver Canucks blow a two-goal lead and lose to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night, things got even worse for this fanbase when one of us made his way down to the glass and tossed his Canucks jersey onto the ice.

It wouldn’t be the first time this season a fan had done so. Over in Edmonton, it’s happened a few times, and coach Dallas Eakins has been none too pleased about it. He labelled the first fan to do it a quitter. And now it would appear that we have a quitter among us, and a hyperdramatic one that would quit on a team still currently sitting on a playoff spot, at that.

Again I say: it would appear. On first glance. On closer inspection, it wasn’t a Canucks fan at all. It was a Blackhawks fan. We know because he wore his Chicago jersey on the way down.

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15 ways the Canucks’ 9-1 loss to the Ducks could have been worse

Let’s face it, the Canucks’ 9-1 loss to the Ducks was absolutely awful and stands as one of the most lopsided defeats in franchise history. But, as bad as it was, it could have been a lot worse.

You might be asking, “How can that be possible?” Well, hypothetical person, you should just be patient and read the rest of this post. You should have figured out from that lede and the title of this post that we here at Pass it to Bulis were about to offer a list of ways the game could have been worse.

Here are 15 things that could have taken the game against the Ducks from awful to worse-than-craisins.

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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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The Paper Feature: Other winter sports for the Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks learned Tuesday that they would be sending a grand total of seven players to Sochi’s Olympic hockey tournament. As expected, Roberto Luongo will be tending the crease, much like he did for the 2010 club, and Dan Hamhuis manage to infiltrate the bubble on which he’d been situated since the summer, earning an invitation thanks to his strong play to end 2014 and his left-handedness.

Team Sweden selected Henrik and Daniel Sedin, the former of whom will be wearing an “A” for his country, perhaps in a bid to help their coach tell the two apart from the front, and Alex Edler. Last week, Ryan Kesler was invited to Team USA. And Yannick Weber has been invited to join the Swiss defence, which has as many holes as the nation’s cheese.

If you want to get technical, Canuck prospect Ronalds Kenins, who may or may not be two people, both of whom are named either Ronalds Kenin or Ronald Kenins, is also going to Sochi. He’ll be repping Team Latvia.

So we’ll say eight Canucks are on their way to Russia for the biggest international hockey tournament since the birth of Blue Ivy Carter. But enough about them. What are the rest of the Canucks supposed to do while they’re away?

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The Paper Feature: Dear Gary Bettman, the Pacific Division is too hard

Dear Gary Bettman, and to whomever else it may concerns, because it definitely concerns me,

The Pacific Division is too hard.

There. I said it. It’s just too hard. There are too many good teams in it. It’s too competitive. I don’t like it. I don’t think anyone else likes it. I think you should fix it.

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The Paper Feature: Kesler to wing, and John Tortorella’s other bright ideas

“I just look at Kes like a winger,” John Tortorella said at the end the trip. This raised some eyebrows. Kesler is, after all, a pretty good centre, and taking him out of the centre depth chart leaves a massive, Kesler-shaped hole there, like when a cartoon character exits through a wall.

But here’s where it got absolutely crazy: Tortorella then proceeded to list off some of the other changes he plans to make, and if you thought that Kesler on the wing was a twist, the other innovations will blow your mind.

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Twelve ways the Canucks can stop Alex Ovechkin from scoring, which is pretty important

While you’d expect a team to be at their worst at the end of a long road trip, the Canucks and their crew of sleep doctors have frequently pointed to the first game after the trip as the truly bad one. The experts have said it; the Canucks have shown it.

The infamous, 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in November of 2010? That was the first home game after five away, and after the debacle, we learned that the sleep doctor had tabbed that contest well in advance of the shellacking as likely the ugliest outing of the year. April 20th of last season, the Canucks returned from another five-game trip to muster an unacceptable 14 shots in a game versus the Detroit Red Wings. They won, unbelievably enough, thanks to Cory Schneider and some luck in the shootout.

That in mind, it will probably take a little more luck for the Canucks to escape Monday night’s visit from the Washington Capitals with both points. After seven games in the East, this one has all the trappings of a bad night out for the boys in blue.

But the Canucks can increase their luck by doing one very important thing: shutting down Alex Ovechkin. It’s easier said than done, of course. The Capitals’ sniper has 32 goals in his last 32 games, 15 more than the next guy. He’s got a league-best 10 in 11 games this year, and even has people talking about him scoring 50 in 50. So yeah, you want to beat the Capitals? Don’t let Ovechkin score. If the Canucks can get him to play like he tweets — which is to say, terribly — for just one night, their chances improve exponentially. Here are a few strategies for shutting him down:

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The Paper Feature: Time to fire John Tortorella

The Paper Feature will run every Wednesday in the Vancouver Sun’s print edition, as well as online here at Pass it to Bulis. (It’s called the Paper Feature for what we hope are obvious reasons.) It doesn’t start up for a couple weeks, but due to a miscommunication, we were told it started this week. Rather than let this column go to waste, we decided to share it with you, our favourite reader.

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The 2nd annual Canuck headshot awards, starring a weary Roberto Luongo

There are a number of reasons to get excited about the opening of Canucks training camp. There are storylines galore, especially this season, from the new coach and system to the rookies knocking on the door to the bargain-bin offseason signings attempting to prove they’re worth the contract. There’s the fact that training camp is the harbinger of real, meaningful hockey.

And, of course, there’s picture day.

Picture day is the best. It’s the day every player invited to Canucks training camp sits down in front of the weird, paint-daubed background, smiles or scowls, depending on their mood, and allows Jeff Vinnick to capture the headshot that will be used alongside their name all season long. Amazingly, despite how frequently these photos will be used, few prepare for it (although Sean Avery once brought some fashionable frames) and few make the effort to look their best.

The result is comedy by the bowlful, and since we like comedy here at PITB — although we’re only middling at it — we’d like to highlight a few of our favourites, just as we did last year, in the second annual headshot awards.

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14 other drills you can expect out of John Tortorella’s first Canucks training camp

The Canucks had a rude awakening on the first day of training camp, showing up on the ice in full gear, including hockey sticks, only to feel like complete chumps when there weren’t any hockey pucks. After a bit of comic misunderstanding (Henrik, I thought you were bringing the pucks! But Daniel, it was your turn!), new coach John Tortorella revealed that the entire first day of training camp would be conducted sans-puck.

The first day of Canucks training camp involved intense skating drills, tough conditioning tests, and a two-mile run that was meant to be completed in 12 minutes. No word on whether they had to drag Tortorella behind them in a chariot while he whipped them repeatedly, so we must assume they did.

What’s next for Tortorella’s camp? What cruel and unusual punishment will he put them through in the coming days? There’s no need to wonder. We here at PITB managed to get ahold of Tortorella’s top secret training camp schedule. Here are some of the highlights:

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John Tortorella, obvious American spy, talks Luongo, nefarious plot to destroy him

Vancouver Sun colleague Brad Ziemer caught up with John Tortorella on Wednesday and, as you might expect, Ziemer was savvy enough to ask him about Roberto Luongo. (Good thinking, Ziems!)

That’s the big story coming out of this interview, as Tortorella had some encouraging things to say about Luongo. “I have talked to Roberto four times,” he said. “In fact, I just talked to him yesterday… the bottom line is he told me ‘I just want to play.’ … So I am really excited about where he is mentally.”

Now that’s all well and good, and that last line is the quote that’s spreading around the hockey world like a wildfire during a dry, dry August. But if you ask me, and by clicking this link, you technically did, far more important than Roberto Luongo’s mental state, in my opinion, is John Tortorella’s state… of residence.

Yes, I said state. The Tortorellas and their dogs, you see, AREN’T EVEN GOING TO LIVE IN CANADA.

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25 questions we want to hear at John Tortorella’s first press conference with the Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks have scheduled a press conference for 1 pm this afternoon, where it is expected that they will name John Tortorella the new head coach, unless the organization is running a masterful bluff and actually announces a hike in ticket prices, which the media will report in glowing terms since, hey, at least they didn’t hire Tortorella.

Tortorella’s testy relationship with reporters has been the focus over the last several days since rumours began circulating that he was headed to Vancouver, leading to plenty of anticipation for his first press conference with his new team. Unfortunately, it’s likely to be a fairly staid affair, as Tortorella will look to make a good first impression.

That is, unless the reporters on hand ask the right — or, more appropriately, wrong — questions. While the press conference is likely to be full of questions about his tenure with the New York Rangers, what he hopes to accomplish with the Canucks, and why he accepted a job in a fish bowl like Vancouver, reporters are unlikely to ask the kinds of questions that really matter (or completely don’t matter).

With that in mind, here are 25 questions we want to hear at the Tortorella press conference. Elliott, Iain, Brad, Cam, et al., feel free to print these out and bring them with you.

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What type of coach should the Canucks hire?

To the surprise of absolutely no one — save Rick Bowness, whose dismissal leaked before Mike Gillis could get ahold of him and wound up being fired by his own daughter — the Canucks blew up their coaching staff on Wednesday. Bowness, Newell Brown, and most notably, head coach Alain Vigneault were all let go.

And now we look forward. The Canucks are still a team on the cusp, a veteran group that may still be in their window, and it’s going to take the right type of coach to get them over the hump. But what type of coach is that? Thursday morning on the Team 1040, the hosts polled listeners with the following three options: the fresh face, the second-chancer, and the NHL proven guy. But those aren’t the only options — not even close. Let’s take a look at those and more.

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18 things Chris Tanev’s dad will say while negotiating his son’s next contract

Chris Tanev had a solid season for the Canucks, showing that he’s ready to step into a larger role next season. He even spent some time in the top-four alongside Alex Edler. It seemed like he instantly developed chemistry with whoever he played with thanks to his calm, simple style of play.

Tanev is also a pending Restricted Free Agent this off-season, leading to an interesting question. How much is Tanev worth? He doesn’t do any one thing noticeably well. He doesn’t put up points and doesn’t hit. What he does do is make smart decisions with the puck and a good first pass out of the zone. He plays largely mistake-free defence, which is a nice switch for Canucks fans used to Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler, who are far more high-risk.

It was revealed today that Tanev would be representing himself in his contract negotiations, with help from his dad, Mike. That makes things a little more complicated, as Tanev’s dad will likely spend the entire meeting with Gillis saying awkward, embarrassing things, causing Tanev to roll his eyes and say “Daaaaaad” at least twice.

Here are 18 things you can expect Tanev’s dad to say during his son’s contract negotiations.

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Pass it to Bulis presents a musical mockumentary: ‘Poonerman’ [VIDEO]

In case you were not aware, Harrison and I, your (hopefully) esteemed hosts here at Pass it to Bulis, are both musically inclined. Harrison once fronted the incredible funk band, Cinnamon Toast Funk, while I am in the rock band Minnesota Nice. We’ve combined our musical efforts in the past on the blog, with “Song for Nelson Ong.”

During the NHL lockout, Harrison wrote two parody songs that I got the chance to contribute to. “Lockout Man” was our first effort, a parody of the Elton John classic “Rocket Man.” Then Harrison and Sean Gentille of Sporting News got the idea to parody Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend,” switching it to “Call The Union.” It led to a ludicrously precise music video parody that featured Harrison wearing obscenely tight yoga pants.

When news came out that Brian Burke was suing a host of internet commenters for defamation, we quickly realized that the whole situation was ripe for parody. The defendants were listed only by their usernames, including gems like “Sir Psycho Sexy,” “cambarkerfan,” and “Slobberface,” but the name that really stuck out was “Poonerman.”

Harrison recruited myself and his former bandmate in Cinnamon Toast Funk, Bryan Binnema, to come up with the perfect parody song about Poonerman and his legal troubles. Unfortunately, it turns out that the situation is too ripe for parody and we just couldn’t land on a single song.

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Canucks get Round 1 date with San Jose Sharks, who are, we remind you, bad

With their loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, the Sharks close out the 2013 season as the sixth seed in the Western Conference. This means a first-round playoff date with the third seed, your Vancouver Canucks.

We’ll have plenty of coverage leading up to this series (as well as during it), just as we always do, but for tonight, we would simply like to remind you of something.

This post originally appeared on May 13, 2011, in advance of the Canucks’ Western Conference Final series versus the Sharks two years ago. It was true then and it’s true now: the San Jose Sharks are bad.

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Last-minute cramming: a 2013 Canucks season review

In a sense, it’s been a long season. But in another sense (the literal sense), it’s been a short season, a whirlwind. It’s possible that you missed it all. But now the playoffs are here and we’d hate for you to be so far behind you can’t enjoy them. Here’s a quick review of the 2013 season.

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Who are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles of the Vancouver Canucks?

Earlier this morning at the other blog I write for, Greg Wyshynski asked an interesting question: Who are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for your team?

As you may know, the Turtles are a quartet. But what you may not know is that their four members fit into four basic archetypes. There’s the austere leader, the silly guy, the philosopher, and the bad boy. The same can be said of the Beatles, the cast of Seinfeld, the non-infant members of the Simpsons family, the Sweathogs, and almost any other popular quartet in popular culture.

“It’s like some essential human grouping pattern,” Linus Millberg says in Jonathan Lethem’s Fortress of Solitude.

Working out who on any given hockey club might fit into this pattern makes for a fun exercise, so we thought we’d bring it to you here at PITB. Who are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles of the Canucks?

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Twenty-four things for Ryan Kesler to remember, now that he’s a winger again

Ryan Kesler and Derek Roy will be back on the same line again Monday versus the Chicago Blackhawks, but there are a few changes to the Canucks’ second line nonetheless. First of all, Chris Higgins returns to the lineup, and he’ll replace Jannik Hansen on the other wing. Second, Ryan Kesler and Derek Roy will trade spots, meaning that, unless Alain Vigneault has an eleventh hour change of heart (like he did last time), Roy will be the centre. Kesler will be reprising his long dormant role as a right-winger.

But now he has to try to remember what it’s like to play the wing, a position he hasn’t played since 2009. That’s a long time. He might need a refresher course.

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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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