I Watched This Game: Canucks 4, Blues 1

The NHL schedule-makers could not have anticipated this, but their scheduling for today’s games was fantastic. With the Canucks, Flames, and Kings battling for playoff position and all within three points of each other, all three were in action at the same time.

Any combination of results would have been interesting, but only one would truly make Canucks fans happy: wins by the Canucks and Flames and a loss to the Blackhawks by the Kings. That left them in the odd position of rooting for the Flames and Blackhawks.

As of right now, it looks like that ideal is exactly what’s going to happen. Like listening to the Lion King soundtrack, the Canucks got rid of the Blues. Meanwhile, the Flames are currently leading the Stars and the Blackhawks have a two-goal lead on the Kings. Barring a pair of third-period comebacks, the Canucks will have opened up a 5-point gap on the Kings and will still be two points up on the Flames.

These are the thoughts that occur to me now, but I was entirely focussed on the Canucks when I watched this game.

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The PITB Podcast, Episode 27: Playoff Push and Pineapple on Pizza

It’s the home stretch of the season and the Canucks are in a precarious position, with both the Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings right behind them in the playoff race. In an ideal world, the Kings would miss the playoffs entirely and the Canucks would face the Flames in the first round, but it’s possible the Canucks could face the Kings or miss the playoffs entirely.

Daniel and Harrison discuss the possibilities, as well as get into the Canucks’ most recent game against the Dallas Stars, Bo Horvat’s progression this season, Ronalds Kenins usage, Radim Vrbata’s 30-goal season, and give Willie Desjardins some deserved Jack Adams chatter. They also find time to talk about Hanna Barbera cartoons and how some of the funkiest bass lines weren’t played on a bass.

Before all that, however, they have a heated debate as to whether pineapple belongs on pizza.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 3, Stars 4 (OT)

Okay, so there are two ways to look at this one: optimists will celebrate the point the Canucks salvaged when they tied the game late, postponing their loss until overtime. Pessimists, on the other hand, will lament the point the Canucks blew when they allowed Tyler Seguin a third-period breakaway. That’s pretty much the only thing you can’t do versus the Stars.

So where do I stand? I’m pretty happy with how things turned out. The outcome is unfortunate, sure, but how can you complain about a game that gave us this awesome GIF of Trevor Linden and Jim Benning high-fiving like they just became best friends.

Next up: karate in the garage. Anyway. Like a high-fiving Lindenning, except without the high fives and no friends to speak of, I watched this game.

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Game of the Week: Canucks vs Blackhawks, April 2nd

The Canucks face a tough schedule this week, with four games in 6 nights and three of them against the top-three teams in the ultra-tough Central Division and the fourth against one of the hottest teams in the league.

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The Paper Feature: John Tortorella still stealing Willie Desjardins’ thunder

The Jack Adams award is purportedly given to the NHL’s best coach, but I think we can all agree that’s hardly the case, and the counterargument need only be one line: Mike Babcock has never won it. If the coach widely-held to be the league’s best has never taken home the hardware, the award probably isn’t what it claims to be.

Fact is, winning a Jack Adams has next to nothing to do with being the best coach. Rather, it’s an award for the best turnaround narrative starring a coach. Call it The Mighty Ducks award. The way to take one home isn’t to coach well — it’s to be at the helm of a team that so exceeds expectations, it’s hardly explainable any other way besides: award-winning coaching.

If that’s the case, though, one wonders why Willie Desjardins appears to be getting no love for the award.

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Real Good Tweets, starring @alixiswright37 predicting Zayn would leave One Direction

You folks made some good tweets last week. Some real good tweets.

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Canucks of the Week, now with five more years of Chris Tanev

Canucks of the Week, written by Kevin Vanstone, examines who and what is keeping hockey in Vancouver interesting these days. That’s right: who and what. It need not only be players. After all, we are all Canucks. All people, places, things, abstract concepts, ideas, emotions — if it’s a noun, proper or common, it’s a Canuck, and it’s eligible to be a Canuck of the week.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 1, Avalanche 4

Burn the Millionaires jerseys. Burn them all.

Rake up a giant pile of leaves, throw the jerseys in the middle, and light them on fire. Melt them with thermite. Shred the jerseys, mix them up with coffee creamer, and blow them up.

Borrow the US Navy’s laser cannon and use the Millionaires jerseys as target practice. Strand yourself on a deserted island with the jerseys and burn them in a fire to signal for help. Go green by creating a giant magnifying lens and burning them with the power of sunlight alone.

Gather them onto an altar and burn them to appease the hockey gods, who are clearly upset the Canucks are trying to take ownership of a Stanley Cup that doesn’t belong to them.

Just burn them like a maniacal leprechaun ordered you to, because the Canucks can never wear them again. They are cursed and I fear that by watching this game, I too have become cursed. The only way to get rid of the curse is to pass it along to someone else by telling them that I watched this game.

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Stick in Link: Chris Tanev is tough, angry Sedins, and behind the scenes with Ben Cooper

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Tuesday and Thursday. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at passittobulis@gmail.com, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Big Numbers: Empty net goals, Station Wagon line, and power plays

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. Big Numbers is a weekly feature on Pass it to Bulis in which we identify the numbers and statistics that really matter or, frequently, the ones that don’t matter at all but are still pretty interesting.

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Will Canucks look like bums dressed as Millionaires again?

Let’s be honest: the 1915 Vancouver Millionaires are about as valid a Stanley Cup champion as the 2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes. Sure, they hoisted the grail, but it was only happening once, as the rest of the eligible teams got their bearings after a slough of rule changes that threw the whole league into disarray.

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the Millionaires’ Cup win, however, it’s still a Cup win, and the only one Vancouver’s ever seen. Which is why, on the hundredth anniversary of it, the Canucks will once again be donning their Millionaires jerseys versus the Colorado Avalanche. Reasonable idea.

But also a terrible idea. It’s been 100 years since the last time Vancouver looked good in those jerseys, and I’m not just talking about maroon being so last century as a colour.

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Have the Canucks set an NHL record for empty net goals?

The Canucks managed to score just two empty net goals all of last season. This season, that’s how many they tend to score in a single game.

With two empty net goals against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night, the Canucks brought their league-leading total to 20, ten times as many as last year. They have five empty net goals in the last three games alone.

The Canucks’ empty net goals represent nearly 10% of their goalscoring this season and it’s one of the reasons they have a 28-1-2 record when leading heading into the third period, which is the 7th best record in the league. Their ability to put the puck into the empty net has helped them close out games that could have otherwise gone to overtime on a single bad bounce.

They also may have set an NHL record for the most empty net goals in a season.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 5, Jets 2

The Winnipeg Jets jumped out to a two-goal lead in Tuesday night’s game, which, as we all know by now, is like reading from the Book of the Dead. It can only end badly. And somebody is definitely getting possessed.

In this case, it was the Canucks, who played like a team possessed from that point forward, snatching the win not just out of Winnipeg’s hands, but also their city name. They’re now known as ipeg, which is hardly a place at all. It sounds more like a wooden leg that plays MP3s. No doubt the Canucks will be loading up the victory playlist on their ipegs after this game. And I will be writing about how I watched this game.

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The PITB Podcast, Episode 26: Tanev Re-Signed and Fast Food Burgers

Chris Tanev is one of the best of the new breed of defensive defencemen, who cannot possibly be described as “stay-at-home.” This season he has proven that he is a top pairing defenceman capable of elevating the play of everyone around him and the Canucks rewarded him with a five-year, $22.25 million contract.

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Losing winnable games may cost the Kings more than the Canucks

There’s been plenty of consternation in Canucks nation over their performance against the worst teams in the NHL this season, giving up key points in recent games against the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Arizona Coyotes, and Columbus Blue Jackets. The Canucks may be second in the Pacific Division, but the Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings are not far behind, so there’s a chance, albeit a slim one, the Canucks could miss the playoffs, with losses in winnable games to blame.

Meanwhile, Canucks fans have a skewed view of the Kings. Up until Saturday’s big win, the Kings had dominated the Canucks, outshooting them 96-54 and outscoring them 12-3. Combine that with the Kings’ reputation for heating up heading into the playoffs and the concern is understandable.

If all you see of the Kings is how they play against the Canucks, they look like a nigh-unstoppable juggernaut, excepting the Canucks’ one win. What you would be missing, however, is that the Kings have struggled just as much as the Canucks, if not more, against the worst teams in the league and it may end up costing them a spot in the playoffs.

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Stick in Link: Kerry Fraser defends Alex Burrows; Chris Tanev uses a pen

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Tuesday and Thursday. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at passittobulis@gmail.com, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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I Find This Photo Odd: Alex Burrows gets DDT’d

Tyler Toffoli and Alex Burrows were both extremely lucky to escape Saturday’s nasty incident — in which Toffoli shoved Burrows into the side boards dangerously from behind — relatively unaffected. Burrows left the ice briefly, but returned unconcussed. Toffoli was ejected, but returned the next game unsuspended, because the Kings were quick to send a basket of muffins to the Department of Player Safety.

But it wasn’t the only incident between Toffoli and Burrows in the game. There was also that moment when the two got tangled up behind the net and Burrows took down Toffoli at the legs. Although that’s not what the photo suggests. Just based on this picture by Aaron Poole, it looks to me like Toffoli won that exchange too:

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Canucks sign Chris Tanev to five-year extension, the weary world rejoices

Elliott Friedman kicked off his latest edition of 30 Thoughts Tuesday with a little bit of news regarding the Canucks and a prominent RFA: “Hearing there’s progress in contract talks between the Vancouver Canucks and Chris Tanev,” he said. “It’s hard to say if it’s imminent, but it’s moving in a positive direction.”

Turns out Elliotte should have gone with his gut. It was totally imminent. Less than two hours later, the Canucks announced a five-year contract extension for Tanev that carries a cap hit of $4.45 million.

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Tyler Toffoli the latest non-suspension to leave Canucks fans shaking their heads

The word came out Sunday morning, with no official pronouncement from the league, just a spattering of tweets from media folk who were asking around: there would be no hearing for Tyler Toffoli for his hit on Alex Burrows, which obviously meant no suspension. The Department of Player Safety looked at the hit and decided the five-minute major and a game misconduct were punishment enough.

Unsurprisingly, this infuriated Canucks fans and gave the conspiracy theorists who suggest the NHL favours big market American teams like the Kings over the Canucks another soap box to pontificate from.

I’m not the type to fashion tinfoil hats — I prefer the classic tinfoil swan — so that’s not what this is about. It’s still incredibly upsetting to see Canucks players repeatedly taking illegal hits with minimal consequences. Toffoli’s hit on Burrows isn’t the first such hit this season and it’s understandable why fans would be outraged.

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Eddie Lack chooses the wrong equipment design again

Never one to shy away from an opportunity to connect with the fans, Eddie Lack has staged yet another equipment design contest. Last year, fans were asked to submit designs for his mask. This year, it was his pads.

And, for the second consecutive year, Lack has chosen the wrong design.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 3, Coyotes 1

After finally standing up to the Los Angeles Kings; after looking at the tyrannosaurus rex gaining in their rearview mirror, fast approaching, and realizing they had no chance of outrunning it, that they had to beat it back, and then somehow, indeed, subduing the charging apex predator, the Canucks faced an even stiffer challenge: a truly crap team.

Sure, this shouldn’t follow. On its face, “beat the Kings, beat the Coyotes” is about as modus ponens as “save the cheerleader, save the world”. But not for these Canucks, who have been standing up to good and playing down to bad of late. Fortunately, they were able to put that aside for one night and actually win a game they were supposed to. And I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 4, Kings 1

In their three previous meetings with the Kings, the Canucks hadn’t managed even 20 shots on goal, totalling just 54 shots. It’s looked like the Canucks don’t even belong in the same league with the Kings, getting outright dominated and outscored 12-3.

That’s why it was incredible to see the Canucks not only compete with the Kings, but for long stretches outplay them, tallying more than 20 shots in the first two periods alone, finishing the game with 42 shots to just 26 for the Kings.

All of that wouldn’t matter if the Canucks didn’t also outscore the Kings, but they did, if only barely, polishing off the win with two empty net goals. It’s a huge win, giving them a four-point cushion over the Kings and, for the moment, keeping them outside the playoff picture. Sure, there’s not much chance the Kings stay outside of that picture, but the Canucks, at least for now, made the possibility of facing the Kings in the playoffs just a little bit less terrifying.

I watched this game.

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Canucks of the Week, where Eddie Lack gets a pass

Canucks of the Week, written by Kevin Vanstone, examines who and what is keeping hockey in Vancouver interesting these days. That’s right: who and what. It need not only be players. After all, we are all Canucks. All people, places, things, abstract concepts, ideas, emotions — if it’s a noun, proper or common, it’s a Canuck, and it’s eligible to be a Canuck of the week.

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The Paper Feature: Jannik Hansen back to being an unsung hero

The Fred J. Hume Award has been around for as long as the Canucks have been in the NHL. Named after the former mayor of Vancouver and owner of the WHL Canucks, the award is given out to the team’s unsung hero, a player who doesn’t get enough credit for their contribution on the ice.

The award has never been won by one player more than twice, which makes sense. Even winning it twice seems to be one too many times: after your praises have been sung by winning an award, how can you be an unsung hero? Winning it a third time seems absurd. You’ve already got two hit singles in your discography; you’re no longer a one-hit wonder.

If any player can win this award three times, however, it’s Jannik Hansen.

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Can the schedule help the Canucks hold off the Kings?

You’re likely going to hear a lot of people calling Saturday afternoon’s game between the Canucks and Kings a “must-win” for the Canucks. And it sure is — at least based on the NHL dictionary, where must-win is synonymous with “big”. It’s not so much a literal term. There are no literal terms in hockey.

It’s a massive game, as it comes with one of those four-point swings, where you gain two points and also cause your rival to not get two points, although you still don’t actually get four more points than them. Again, there are no literal terms in hockey. Anyway.

The worst-case scenario for the Canucks here is that, when the buzzer sounds, the Kings are tied with them at 84 points and 11 games to go. Granted, that’s enough for most Vancouver fans to be concerned, as most agree that the Kings are simply a better team than the Canucks. They’re sure to get more points in their final 11 games, no?

Maybe not. All things being equal, they probably should. But all things are not equal. The Kings’ schedule in the final 11 games is far more point-resistant.

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