Real Good Tweets, starring @alixiswright37 as the overprotective team mom

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

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Canucks of the Week, starring Bo Horvat, and those sweet, sweet Oilers

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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Brian Elliott appears to be trapped in Sportsnet’s Canucks broadcasts

Brian Elliott took a brief nap Wednesday afternoon, as he often does. But as he slept, he met a small goblin named Mr. Teeth, who showed him a portal. “Pass through this portal,” said Mr. Teeth, with a wide, mischievous smile that wordlessly explained his name, “And you will be a star… forever.”

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Big Numbers: Vrbata on-pace for 40, Edler plays big minutes

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 3, Ducks 4 (SO)

The Canucks have had this one circled on their calendars ever since the NHL released the 2013-14 schedule. Unfortunately, the whole thing was ruined when Bryan Allen was traded to the Montreal Canadiens the morning of the affair, robbing us of only our sixth opportunity to see Allen in Vancouver since he left in the summer of 2006.

On the bright side, there was still Jason LaBarbera’s homecoming. And Ryan Kesler was there too, playing his first game back in Vancouver since pulling a David Duchovny and demanding a move to Southern California. Kesler and Duchovny have a lot in common, actually. Both had five good seasons in Vancouver. Neither emotes very well. And both had roles in 2001 film Zoolander. (Kesler played the title character.)

I’m going to watch the X-Files as soon as I’m done here. But this isn’t about what I’m going to watch tonight. It’s about what I’ve already watched. I watched this game.

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Stick in Link: Kellan Lain traded to Oilers for Will Acton; Ryan Kesler’s back in town

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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Remembering Ryan Kesler’s best moments, hours before we boo the crap out of him

Tonight, Ryan Kesler is back in Vancouver for the first time since he demanded a trade to either Chicago or Anaheim, which, when you consider Chicago’s cap situation, was essentially just a demand to go to Anaheim. Why? With his first daughter turning 7 next year, did he want to be closer to Disneyland? Is he a big fan of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim? Did he really want to pay more taxes?

Whatever the reason, Canucks fans generally weren’t too happy about their beloved jerk skipping town and he quickly became behated. How will they react to his return? Will they boo him every time he touches the puck or just at the beginning of the game? Will they boo him at all? Will he get a standing ovation and be moved to tears like Vince Carter in Toronto on Wednesday?

Before you decide to jeer or cheer, let’s look back at his time with the Canucks and some of his most memorable moments.

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Breakdowning Radim Vrbata’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it powerplay goal

The Canucks made some changes to their powerplay personnel in advance of Wednesday’s visit to Edmonton, and just looking at the gamesheet, you might be tempted to conclude that it paid off. The club scored two goals with the man advantage, which, in a 5-4 game, is the difference between a win and a loss.

Of course, for those watching the game, you know the personnel shift that really made a difference wasn’t Yannick Weber in for Linden Vey, or Zack Kassian for Alex Edler. It was the Oilers’ penalty-kill for the PK units that had held the Canucks scoreless in the 20 opportunities leading up to Wednesday night.

That was never clearer than on Radim Vrbata’s first goal of the evening, which came just two seconds after the powerplay had begun, with Vrbata stepping into a jaw-droppingly wide-open slapshot.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 5, Oilers 4

I don’t meant to alarm you, but Ryan Miller has allowed 16 goals in his last 4 starts. He has a .900 save percentage, 35th in the NHL. Mind you, I’m not a fan of the word “allowed” when it comes to goals against, as it sounds like the goaltender just stood there, letting the other team score, and that was only true of one of Edmonton’s goals in this game.

Plenty of teams have proven that you can win by outscoring your goaltending woes, but those teams usually aren’t paying their number one goaltender $6 million a year.

Fortunately, there’s still plenty of season left and I fully believe that Miller can and will be better for the Canucks as the season progresses. He’s proven that he can still steal a game and his numbers have been skewed by a few ugly games, but the fact remains that those games happened. And so did this game. I watched those games and I watched this game.

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Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa are falling short of expectations

The Canucks have a problem on defence. They’re currently giving up 2.89 goals per game, tied for 12th worst in the NHL. Part of the problem has been their goaltending, which has been outstanding one game, disastrous the next, and mediocre otherwise, with Ryan Miller and Eddie Lack combining for an atrocious .900 save percentage.

But there are defensive issues as well and two players in particular who have underwhelmed in that regard: Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa. For the first time as a Canuck, Hamhuis is a negative possession player, while Bieksa is making a mess of relatively soft minutes.

Both Hamhuis and Bieksa were expected to bounce back from pedestrian seasons under John Tortorella, returning to a partnership that was extremely fruitful as a shutdown pairing under Alain Vigneault. Instead, they’ve struggled and seen their partnership broken up once again. What’s the problem and how can the Canucks fix it?

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The Canucks ugly Christmas sweater is making fools of us all

To hear some folks tell it, the official Vancouver Canucks ugly Christmas sweater is a holiday miracle, right up there with Clarence Odbody earning his wings, finding a sterile stable in dawn-of-the-common-era Bethlehem, and the Grinch becoming imbued with the strength of a dozen grinches atop Mount Crumpit.

Some folks, in this case, being retailers, who are marvelling at the redeemer come down from on high to save them, this pullover of prophecy, this sweater of sweaters.

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Daniel and Henrik Sedin should get into the Hockey Hall of Fame

The 2014 Hockey Hall of Fame inductions happened on Monday, as Peter Forsberg, Dominik Hasek, Mike Modano, and Rob Blake were inducted into the Hall, along with referee Bill McCreary and — finally, belatedly — Pat Burns.

While some pre-NHL Canucks are in the Hall of Fame, just one player who really made his name in Vancouver, Pavel Bure, has been inducted, with other former Canucks, like Cam Neely, Mats Sundin, and He-who-shall-not-be-named, hardly counting. Even Bure is tarnished, in some minds, by how he left the Canucks and a couple of his biggest career accomplishments came outside of Vancouver. Technically, his only Rocket Richard trophies were won with the Florida Panthers, though he also led the league in goals in the 1993-94 season.

It’s entirely possible that the first career Canucks to make it into the Hall of Fame — players who spend their entire career, or at least all of their best seasons, in a Canucks jersey — will be Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

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Linden Vey’s slow transformation into Yannick Weber

For the second consecutive year, Linden Vey may have to wait a while for game no. 19.

The rookie forward looks to be the odd man out Wednesday in Edmonton, as the Canucks seek to address a few key areas: their struggling powerplay, first and foremost — it’s fallen to 17th in the league at 18% — and if there’s time, their team faceoff win percentage, which is 27th in the league.

To the former, Yannick Weber steps into the man advantage in place of Vey, hoping to cut down on the overpassing and put the Canucks back on the highway to goals. To the latter, Bo Horvat draws into the lineup for Vey, and I do mean draws, because his best asset right now is the one Vey doesn’t have.

It means familiar territory for Vey, as he waits for a spot to open up for him at centre. Granted, it’s not quite as dire as his time in Los Angeles, where the Kings are Umberto Eco deep in the middle, but it’s a concern. When the season began, there appeared to be as many as three centre spots up for grabs. Now, 18 games on, there may not be any left for Vey. Unbelievable as it sounds for a rookie with 9 points in his first 18 games, the first quarter of the season may go down as a massive missed opportunity.

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Stick in Link: Richardson on Kassian; we’re still talking about that Martin Hanzal goal

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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Spitballin’ on the Taxman, Barry Wilkins the puckhog, and signing toddlers

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 Paper Feature: Canucks’ balanced scoring won’t last forever

When Radim Vrbata went down with an injury, Canucks fans were surprised to see Jannik Hansen promoted to play with the Sedins on the top line. While Hansen isn’t as bad with the twins as some seem to think, he’s clearly not the next best option after Vrbata.

That would be Alex Burrows, who transformed from a checking line winger into a consistent scoring threat alongside the twins, who won their respective Art Ross trophies with Burrows on their wing. Burrows was an unconventional choice to play with the Sedins, but an inspired one by Alain Vigneault, as his hard forechecking, grinding style was matched by a surprisingly high hockey IQ and good hands around the net.

There’s just one problem: the second line has been too good.

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The PITB Podcast, Episode 10: Keeping Even-Keeled and Christmas Season

It’s an emotional roller coaster for Canucks fans right now. After the Canucks largely successful road trip through California, fans were jubilant, certain that this was confirmation that this Canucks’ season wouldn’t be as disastrous as the previous one.

It took just one, ugly loss to the sub-.500 Arizona Coyotes to undo all those good feelings and convince those same fans that the end of the world was nigh.

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Canucks of the Week, starring Pat O’Neill, and the unstoppable Martin Hanzal

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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Game of the Week: Canucks vs Ducks, November 20th

Only two games to choose from this week and it’s a tough one. On the one hand, we have the Canucks’ sixth — SIXTH!! — meeting with the Edmonton Oilers, and I think I speak for all of us when I say I simply can’t wait to see these guys again. After all, while the Canucks may have won the previous five meetings, I think they still have a lot left to prove, like, uh, whether or not they can win six.

I don’t know. I’d complain about the Oilers-heavy schedule, but 1) the first two games were preseason, which hardly counts, and 2) the Canucks have had a hot start to the year, and part of me wonders whether the confidence boost a club gets from playing Edmonton isn’t part of it.

Anyway. We’ll pick the other game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 0, Coyotes 5

We should probably have seen this coming. After surviving the California trip, after that exciting OT win versus Ottawa, after stoking the fanbase with some wins and a brief dance with Lady First-In-The-West, that minx, the Canucks were due for a letdown. Cue the Arizona Coyotes of Phoenix in Glendale.

There are nights when I feel lucky to have this job. Then there are other nights, when I realize the game is over, but there’s still another period to go, and I have to watch it, I have to, or I’m finished. Nights like this one. I… I watched this game.

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There’s nothing wrong with Jannik Hansen playing with the Sedins

Radim Vrbata has recovered from his injury and will play tonight against his former team, the Arizona Coyotes of Phoenix in Glendale. He’ll be back on the top line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, looking to improve upon his near point-per-game numbers this season.

This will come as a relief to both the Canucks and their fans, as Vrbata helps make the Sedins a more dangerous line and should also provide a boost to the Canucks’ suddenly ailing power play that hasn’t scored in the last three games.

Vrbata’s return also means that Jannik Hansen won’t be playing with the Sedins, which is an even bigger source of relief for some than Vrbata’s return. The amount of vitriol I saw aimed at Hansen over the last two games was astonishing, amd it wasn’t just the fans. Jason Botchford and Tony Gallagher were nearly apoplectic about Hansen getting top line duty.

To a certain extent, it’s understandable why: Hansen is not a natural finisher, with a career-high of just 16 goals, so the Sedins’ pretty playmaking is sometimes all for naught, dying on Hansen’s stick. Visually, Hansen’s play is unappealing, full of missed chances, sloppy skating, and awkward falls. He just doesn’t pass the eye test.

What he does pass, however, is the numbers test. Despite appearances, Hansen has been one of the Sedins most effective linemates.

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Stick in Link: Sedins don’t want 3-on-3 OT; Green Men off-season training

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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Real good tweets, starring @mammamialack, Eddie Lack’s proud mother

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

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Big Numbers: Juice served cold; Horvat draws in

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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The Prospector: Virtanen scores in Super Series, Cassels added to Team OHL, Subban is ridiculous

The Prospector is a semi-regular feature on Pass it to Bulis where we pan the Canucks prospects pool in search of gold.

In this edition, we look at Jake Virtanen, Cole Cassels, Jordan Subban, Patrick McNally, Thatcher Demko, and the rest of the Canucks’ college prospects.

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