Watch Canucks prospects put up points in round two of the CHL playoffs [VIDEO]

The Canucks have to be proud of the performance of their prospects in the CHL playoffs. After two rounds, three prospects are still in the top-ten in OHL playoff scoring: Dane Fox, Brendan Gaunce, and Cole Cassels. The Canucks have five prospects still in the playoffs — the aforementioned three forwards and defencemen Miles Liberati and Anton Cederholm.

Bo Horvat’s London Knights regrettably got eliminated by the Guelph Storm, but will still get a chance to play for the Memorial Cup since they are the hosts of the tournament.

Since so few of the CHL playoff games are televised, I compiled a highlight reel for round one two weeks ago and I have done the same for round two, featuring some pretty assists from Brendan Gaunce and an outburst of goals from Cole Cassels.

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If Flames can’t stand the Heat, Canucks should stay out of Abbotsford

While the Vancouver Canucks lost a great deal more than they won in 2013-14, they did at least manage to close out their season with two wins over the Calgary Flames.

The first came in their final game of the season, a mean-nothing 5-1 shellacking of their Western Canadian rivals. The second came two days later, when the Flames announced that they would be pulling up the stakes on their AHL franchise, the Abbotsford Heat, in search of greener pastures. (Although one wonders if they’ll ever be able to squeeze more green out of a municipality than they did out of Abbotsford. Add the $5.5 million the city paid to terminate the Heat’s contract to the $7.2 million they paid in shortfall over the past five years, and you have an absurd $12.7 million in taxpayer money going to a pro sports franchise valued at $420 million.)

But while Abbotsford lost, the Canucks achieved yet another moral victory with this announcement. Last summer, Canucks ownership tried their hardest to get the newly-purchased Peoria Rivermen into the Fraser Valley, but the Flames wouldn’t budge without some serious greasing. Knowing Vancouver was poised to make a killing in a market they were just killing, they wanted big money from the Canucks to vacate Abbotsford, and the Canucks weren’t willing to pay it out.

In the end, the Canucks started bluffing that they might go to New York instead. The Flames called their bluff. And the Canucks went. Hello, Utica Comets.

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Stick in Link: Comets eliminated from postseason; Dale Weise, playoff hero

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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Five ways for Canucks fans to decide who to cheer for in the NHL playoffs

The NHL playoffs start tonight and, for the first time since 2008, the Canucks won’t be participating. Watching hockey without a rooting interest is all well and good, but it’s generally more fun to have a team to cheer for. So which team do you ally yourself with, if any?

For some fans, this is an easy decision, as they are already fans of another team in addition to the Canucks, for whatever reason. For some, it’s because they moved to the west coast after growing up elsewhere and still have a place in their heart for their childhood team. For these people, if their other favourite team is in the playoff picture, they’re sitting pretty.

For the rest of us, however, we have a decision to make: who do we root for in the playoffs? Here are five ways to decide.

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Spitballin’ on Jamie Benn as a Canuck, Barry Trotz, and Heat leaving Abbotsford

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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Big Numbers: Worst offensive season ever; Kassian’s strong finish

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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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. Calgary Flames, April 13, 2014

Nothing went Vancouver’s way in the 2013-14 season. Not a damn thing. So it was a nice change of pace when Canucks jumped out to a 4-0 lead versus the Calgary Flames, with the Sedins looking like their old selves, Frank Corrado scoring his first career goal, and the team appearing to be on the verge of ending the failed campaign on a rare high note.

But it was short-lived. Late in the second, as Daniel Sedin and Paul Byron went into the corner, the high note morphed into a series of high notes — the ones that play when Janet Leigh is getting stabbed a bunch in Psycho. Then Daniel was stretchered off and taken to hospital. I witnessed one final horror in a season stuffed with them when I watched this game.

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Trevor Linden praises the ‘Boston model’, thinks Shawn Thornton is ‘an important player’

During the first intermission of Saturday’s loss to the Edmonton Oilers, Ron MacLean conducted a quick but informative interview with Trevor Linden about his new job as President of Hockey Operations with the Vancouver Canucks. While Linden still sounded like someone coming to grips with his role and hedged his bets on several answers, MacLean managed to get some interesting responses out of Linden.

Unfortunately, one of the most interesting responses was also one of the most concerning. When Linden started talking about having a “well-rounded group of forwards” — particularly in regards to the third and fourth lines — he referenced the “Boston model” and immediately praised Shawn Thornton as “such an important player” for his team.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Edmonton Oilers, April 12, 2014

As is appropriate for this season, the Canucks earned a moral victory in their final road game. Not only did they lose, thereby giving themselves the opportunity to clinch the 6th overall pick in the upcoming draft with a loss to the Calgary Flames on Sunday (and simultaneously worsening Edmonton’s draft position), but they also managed to get a rival team’s fans to call them classy.

As CBC constantly reminded us all game, this was Ryan Smyth’s final NHL game and, like Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames did for Trevor Linden, the Canucks came back out on the ice after the game ended and, led by Henrik Sedin, shook Smyth’s hand and wished him the best.

The reaction was immediate and universal. Even the most ardent Canucks haters could only muster a weak joke about it being the first instance of class ever shown by the Canucks. For one brief moment, Oilers fans were forced to like and respect the Vancouver Canucks. If that’s not a moral victory, what is?

Also, they played something resembling hockey before all of that. I watched this game.

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Spitballin’ on Bieksa to Worlds, Dane Fox’s award, and John Tortorella’s systems

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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What was the Canucks’ lowest point of the season?

Way back at the end of November in this very space, I marvelled at the Canucks’ terrible six-game homestand, an unfortunate stretch in which they played host to the Sharks, Stars, Panthers, Blue Jackets, Blackhawks, and Kings, and came away with a 1-2-3 record, thanks largely to their inability to close out games.

I dubbed this “masterpiece of tragicomic theatre” their worst homestand ever, and elsewhere, I speculated that, at year’s end, we would look back on it as the low point of the Canucks’ season.

In the parlance of today’s youth: ROFLMAO. I am a buffoon. Five months later, I am confident that this homestand was far from the Challenger Deep of this terrible, god-forsaken year. Heck, it may not even be in the top five. Here are the other candidates, in chronological order:

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. Colorado Avalanche, April 10, 2014

The last time we saw the Canucks, they were fighting for their playoff lives versus the Anaheim Ducks. (Not that they seemed to know it. It’s like they don’t even read the papers. Typical millennials.) It didn’t go well, and they were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, making Thursday’s tilt with the Avalanche their first truly meaningless game of the year.

At first, I thought it was going to be impossible to get up for this game, meaningless as it was. But then I remembered life is meaningless, and I find reasons to get up for that every day. By rewarding myself with a bagel, I watched this game.

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Hear James Duthie’s story of arrogant Gillis, Canucks during 2011 Final

There were many in the hockey media that didn’t care for Mike Gillis, so there was no shortage of childish grave-dancing when the Canucks GM and Team President was dismissed from both roles on Tuesday. “Mike Gillis, the smartest man in the room, is no longer in the room,” tweeted Steve Simmons (who’s on a pretty torrid losing streak these days, so you can understand why he might need to kick a man while he’s down).

But Simmons isn’t the only one suggesting Gillis was a pretty arrogant guy. Wednesday on TSN radio, James Duthie was asked, simply, “What do you think Gillis’s deal was?” In response, he shared a story of true Gillisian hubris from the 2011 Cup Final.

This is a story that’s been floating around ever since — full disclosure: I’d heard it before too, from someone else who was in the room — but this is the first time it’s been aired publicly, so it’s your chance to get a window into how truly over the Canucks thought the series was when they arrived in Boston. It’s pretty cringe-inducing.

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The Week Ahead: A Northwest Division farewell tour

Every Wednesday we take a look at The Week Ahead to see what storylines we’ll be following, because Wednesday is a day meant for looking ahead to the future. Around here we call Wednesday “Future Day” and we all wear silver jumpsuits and big bubble space helmets. Doesn’t everybody do that?

This week, it’s the end of the season and the Canucks face a trio of former Northwest Division opponents.

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Stick in Link: Hello Trevor Linden, farewell Mike Gillis, whither John Tortorella?

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 [...]

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Trevor Linden is the future of the Canucks; is John Tortorella still part of it?

Trevor Linden made a good impression in his first press conference as the Vancouver Canucks new President of Hockey Operations. He apologized for lying in his interview with Global TV, he was humble in discussing his lack of experience and need to surround himself with intelligent, experienced people, and he looked comfortable handling every single question that came his way.

The same can’t be said for Francesco Aquilini, who didn’t look at all comfortable in front of the cameras, awkwardly reading from a prepared statement before answering the media’s questions.

Apart from thanking Mike Gillis for “his years of service” three times — it was literally the exact same wording, like he had practiced saying it in front of the mirror the entire previous night — he also gave a particularly convoluted answer when asked about John Tortorella that seemed to imply that Tortorella wouldn’t be with the team next season.

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Canucks officially hire Trevor Linden, who is a big fat liar, as Team President

The Canucks officially announced Trevor Linden as the new President of Hockey Operations Wednesday morning, confirming rumours that were swirling since Mike Gillis’s dismissal from the position the day prior.

This means that Linden lied to our faces on Tuesday. In an interview with Global TV to promote his fitness clubs, he was asked point blank if he would be the next president of hockey operations for the Canucks. He denied the rumour.

The Canucks just hired a big, fat liar to be team president.

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Stick in Link: Mike Gillis got fired; who’s next?

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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Canucks respond to the cries of their angriest fans, fire Mike Gillis

Late in the third period of Monday night’s 3-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, with the Canucks just licking the metaphorical stamp on their mail-in of a game that would have kept their playoff hopes alive, the fans in Rogers Arena erupted in the loudest chant we’ve heard from them in years.

“Fire Gillis!” they shouted.

Less than 12 hours later, Canucks’ ownership has caved to their demands. Mike Gillis has been relieved as both President and GM of the Vancouver Canucks.

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Don’t hire Trevor Linden as Canucks team president; hire Mark Messier

There was a time that the people of Edmonton loved Kevin Lowe, and for good reason. Lowe’s first stint with the Oilers lasted 13 seasons, during which time he helped lead the team to five Stanley Cups. He was a member of the Oilers during their best times — the years the fan still look on with the most fondness.

Lowe was traded to the New York Rangers in 1992, but he returned to the Oilers in 1996, playing his final two years in front of the fans that loved him most, then retired in 1998 after being sidelined with an inner-ear issue that was affecting his balance.

It was hardly the end of Lowe’s time with in Edmonton. He retired straight into coaching, taking a job as an Oilers assistant coach the same year he retired. A year later, he was the head coach, and a year after that, he was promoted to General Manager. Eight years after that, with fans calling for his head after assembling a team capable of winning little else but the draft lottery, he was promoted instead to President of Hockey Operations.

In Edmonton, Kevin Lowe is now all but despised.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Anaheim Ducks, April 8th, 2014

As famed sportswriter Thomas Stearns Eliot wrote about this Canucks season, “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.” A little flowery for my tastes, but his words proved prophetic, as the Canucks looked lame against the Ducks, officially becoming a lame duck for the remainder of the season.

Facing a rookie goaltender in his first NHL game, the Canucks mustered just 18 shots on net. In the second period, they had just 3 shots. In their five power plays, they got the puck on net just 3 times. They were credited with 10 turnovers and it felt like more, giving up multiple breakaways, including the first shot of the game. Not with a bang, but a whimper.

Know who else whimpered? Me, when I watched this game.

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Big Numbers: Last chance to see Selanne; Kassian tallies assists, Hamhuis draws penalties

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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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings, April 5, 2014

The last time the Canucks saw the Kings, they skated away with a moral two points, and an actual zero points, losing the game but punching a bunch of people — which, in the minds of many hockey fans, is the margarine to victory’s butter. This time around, however, no one had to settle for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Winning!, as the Canucks actually managed to score more goals than the Kings, which signifies the sort of triumph that actually affects the standings.

In so doing, the Canucks also staved off their inevitable mathematical elimination from the playoff race, so they also beat math. That’s hard to do. Many members of the Toronto hockey media have been trying to do that for years, with limited success. (Often, these individuals will ask: do you even watch the games? The answer, on this night, at least, is yes. I watched this game.)

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This guy or this other guy: John Tortorella or Mike Gillis?

Many saw Mike Gillis’s layered and intriguing comments during Thursday morning’s Team 1040 radio interview as an ultimatum of sorts, directed either at Francesco Aquilini — either my way, or John Tortorella’s way, some suggested he was implying — or at the coach himself (in which case, swap “Tortorella’s way” for “the highway”).

There’s definitely some merit to this reading. “When you have an entire team’s level of performance drop off there has to be reasons for it,” Gillis said, before pointing to reasons that seemed systematic. He talked about the team getting away from the way he wanted them to play — the way he built them to play. He referenced the change in Alain Vigneault’s coaching style when the new GM arrived on the scene six years ago, implying that a similar adjustment was necessary here.

Ray Ferraro felt Gillis was drawing a line in sand. Via the Vancouver Sun:

“That is as big a distancing from the coach as I’ve seen,” Ferraro said in an interview Thursday. “That’s pushing you to that side of the room and I’m on this side of the room and whoever is making the decision upstairs, you’ve got one or the other.

“I see it as totally unlikely that both are gone and totally unlikely that both are back.”

Thus, it’s one or the other. Gillis or Tortorella? That’s a tough call for Canucks’ ownership, and one that shouldn’t be made alone. So we’ve decided to pitch in and help, with another edition of This Guy or This Other Guy?

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Watch Bo Horvat, Dane Fox, Brendan Gaunce, and Cole Cassels tear up the OHL playoffs [VIDEO]

The Canucks playoff hopes are about as dim as Shane O’Brien caving in Torca del Cerro del Cuevon without a headlamp. The chances of the Canucks making the playoffs are lower than the chances of “fetch” happening. It’s as unlikely as Facebook ever adding a dislike button.

Some players in the Canucks system are seeing playoff success, however, specifically their forward prospects in the OHL. All four are in the top-ten in scoring in the OHL playoffs, with Dane Fox first and Brendan Gaunce third. Their respective teams also dominated the first round, all advancing in four or five games.

It’s tough to see these prospects in action, however, as OHL playoff games are sporadically televised at best. You can see Bo Horvat and the London Knights take on the Guelph Storm in game one of their second round series this Friday on Sportsnet ONE at 4:30, but if you want to see others, you’re basically out of luck.

You can, however, see some of their goals and assists from the first round in the following highlight video!

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