Spitballin’, (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a new feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because after a game like last night’s there are lots of things to find and colour. While we covered most of them in the I Watched This Game post, Daniel would have been writing for six more hours if he tried to hit absolutely everything. Here are a few more topics that deserve mention.

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Like Richard Loney sprinting through the Star Spangled Banner, the Sharks came out flying tonight. Not literally, of course, as flying sharks would be absolutely terrifying, but metaphorically. After an initial push by the Canucks, an early penalty gave the Sharks a chance to find their feet (sharks with feet would also be terrifying), getting a powerplay goal and hitting a post on a near-open net shortly after. Unfortunately for them, that increased speed and intensity barely matched where the Canucks already were. The Canucks responded by becoming even faster and more intense. And while it is tempting to make this game all about Ben Eager’s lack of discipline that then spread to the rest of his team, that would do a disservice to how the Canucks outplayed the Sharks throughout the entire game. Yes, the score became awfully silly once the Sharks began parading to the penalty box (sharks on parade being the most terrifying mental image yet), but the Canucks earned the victory by being the better team, not just by taking advantage of the Sharks’ silliness. I should know: I watched this game.

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In these playoffs, the San Jose Sharks have been outscored 15 to 11 in the third period and have made a habit of giving up third period leads, the most recent being game 1 against the Vancouver Canucks. This tendency became an issue in the second round as they nearly gave up a 3-0 series lead to the Detroit Red Wings. Two of Detroit’s three victories saw the Wings overcome a third period deficit to win the game. There was an additional scare in game 7, as the Sharks almost let a two-goal third period lead slip away.

Now, after the Canucks scored two goals in the third period of game 1, there is a serious concern that the Sharks may not have the conditioning necessary to succeed in the playoffs. The reason given by some for the Sharks inability to close out games is that the Sharks simply get too tired and worn out and have nothing left for the third period.

It’s hogwash.

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By now, you’ve likely heard tale of the greatest fight that never happened, when Ryan Kesler refused Joe Thornton’s challenge to drop the gloves just prior to puck drop in Sunday’s Western Conference Final opener. It’s quite the story, especially since it’s somewhat unbelievable: Kesler’s never been known to back down from a fight, and Thornton’s never been that eager to get into one. The roles Thornton and Kesler claim to have played in this exchange seem relatively out of character for both.

But “Out of character” is the central phrase here. Both guys have worked tirelessly to remodel reputations as players who disappear in the playoffs, seemingly due to wholly opposite character flaws. Thornton, famously focused but dispassionate, has been hard at work to turn up the emotion in this postseason. Kesler, famously passionate but unfocused, is committed to a newfound composure. Now, one of them is on his way to his first ever Stanley Cup Final, and the victor will be the one that stays true to his new self.

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Almost every playoff-bound team makes minor moves and trades throughout the season, with the most significant usually made in the time leading up to the trade deadline. Each time looks to add that one missing piece that will push the team over the top. Each of the four teams remaining in the Stanley Cup playoffs made some significant mid-season moves that have helped carry the team to this point in the playoffs, but which GM improved their team the most?

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For many, the big story of Game 1 will be the return of the Sedins, who broke out in a big way, leading the Canucks to a third period comeback with two huge goals. It’s true — this was a big deal. That said, I’m more excited about the return of something else: blown coverage. Defensive lapses! Odd-man rushes! Sweet, sweet space! After the Nashville series, which was tighter than a hipster’s trousers, I had forgotten how much fun it could to be to watch the Canucks versus a team that can blow an assignment. It’s downright refreshing. All three Vancouver goals tonight came off defensive errors, one on each San Jose D-pairing’s watch. Oh, and speaking of watches, I watched this game:

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The Sharks post-season story bears a strong similarity to that of the Canucks, simply reversed. While the Canucks went up 3-0 in the first round, only to have their opposition with 3-straight and push them to 7 games, the Sharks did the same in the second round. Against the Predators, the Canucks won the first, third, fourth, and sixth games of the series. Against the Kings, the Sharks had the exact same pattern of wins and losses. It’s uncanny.

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With last night’s stunning comeback victory, the Detroit Red Wings have forced a game seven in their series with the San Jose Sharks. This means that the Canucks won’t know who their Western Conference Final opponent is until Thursday night.

But who would they prefer to face? PITB takes a look at their two potential opponents, weighing the pros and cons for each, in another segment of This Guy or This Guy.

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I don’t know why teams think they can get away with sacrificing goaltending.  It started in 2004 after Tampa Bay won the Cup and subsequently dealt Khabibulin, only to plummet to the bottom of the standings.

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When we last left Kyle Wellwood, he was happy. Why wouldn’t he be? Things are going swell for Welly. He’s expecting his first child; his experience in Russia taught him a newfound respect for his home continent, as he no longer has to contend with dogs for the best links of sausage; he’s fitting in [...]

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When we last left the non-stop actioner that is the life of Kyle Wellwood, Welly was making his triumphant return from exile, now in a San Jose Sharks uniform. He seemed excited about going to the Sun Belt, and relieved to be home from Russia, the bizarro nation where stray dogs reenact famous scenes from [...]

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Have you seen the Canucks’ schedule in March? They’re away quite a bit. They play 15 times in 31 days, with 9 of those contests in other people’s buildings, as part of two lengthy road trips. The first will be five games, and the second will be four. That first road trip is the annual [...]

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Do you remember this goal? Have you seen it before? It’s amazing. Textbook Wizardous Sedinerie. It might be the best goal of this NHL season, it happened only one week ago, and yet nobody’s talking about it. Let me take you through what you’re seeing: That’s Henrik Sedin there, outskating two Shark players to turn [...]

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Canucks 1 – 2 Sharks Before we go any further, a brief dissertation on the first game back from a road trip: we saw, in The Game That Shall Not Be Named, and in the wise words of the team’s sleep doctor, that the first game back from a road trip often yields a team [...]

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Let’s be very clear: when we began closely following Kyle Wellwood’s career, we had no idea it was going to be this interesting. Well, maybe we did. Even on a slow day, Kyle Wellwood is impossibly interesting, but we genuinely expected the Wellwood’s World feature to be a lame list of stats followed by a [...]

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“From day one, you have to have your leaders expose themselves to their teammates.” -Todd Mclellan, January 3, 2011 (Canucks @ Sharks pre-game on Team 1040)

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Canucks 4 – 3 Sharks The Canucks came into San Jose to play their third road game in four nights. Unbeaten in five, and expected to be dog-tired, there was a sense among Canuck nation that a loss to San Jose was as inevitable as the extraplanar robots that chase down lawbreakers. The Sharks came [...]

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