I Watched This Game: Canucks 3, Canadiens 2 (OT)

Last Saturday, I called this game against the Canadiens on All Hallows Eve Eve the game of the week, but it very easily could have been a horror show. After all, the Canadiens have been monstrous to start the season, with a frightening 8-2-0 record heading into this ghoulish game. The beasts of the East have owned October and looked eager to drain the lifeblood from the Canucks and their fans.

The Canucks, meanwhile, had yet to prove their early success wasn’t just a masquerade that would turn into a pumpkin at midnight. Would the Canadiens supernatural speed send them screaming? Would the Dale Weise trade come back to haunt them? How quickly would this game turn macabre? Would it be a monster mash or, worse, a graveyard smash? How much more forced can these Halloween references get?

It turned out that those fears, like the fear of poisoned candy, were completely overblown. The Canucks managed to prove their early season record was no trick and it was a real treat when I watched this game.

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I Find This Photo Odd: Chris Higgins is just astounded

According to the caption that accompanies this typically-excellent Jeff Vinnick photo, what you’re seeing here is Chris Higgins adjusting his helmet. (What you’re not seeing, of course, is the super six-pack that tends to peek out from under his jersey whenever he gets his hands up too high — sorry ladies. And some men.)

But I don’t buy it. I guess this could be a photo of Higgins making sure the bean bucket is on snug. Maybe he just saw Zack Kassian skate by and it reminded him that he could stand to tighten the old brain-protector. (You know, because Kassian wears his so loose. That’s the joke.) Or maybe he saw something else that stunned him. Rocked him to the core. Shattered his entire universe.

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Stick in Link: Daniel Sedin, somehow underrated playmaker; Brooke Malakoff’s inspiring story

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-netters galore and ‘The Twelve’

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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Breakdowning Brad Richardson’s surprise opening goal versus the Hurricanes

Most of the time, when we break down goals here at Pass it to Bulis, they involve the Sedins. The reason for this is simple: Sedin goals are gorgeous and their replay value is high — high enough for us to trump up a flimsy excuse for collecting a paycheque just to watch them over and over.

But today we shift our focus elsewhere, to the Canucks’ third line of Brad Richardson, Shawn Matthias and Zack Kassian, who had their best game of the season Tuesday night versus the Carolina Hurricanes, setting the tone with their hits, as well as a surprising (and surprisingly lovely) early tally.

It was a lovely goal, scored with a promising combination of strength, speed and skill, and it’s worth a second look. So let’s break it down:

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Canucks games are getting goals fast thanks to this one weird trick

On Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, Zack Kassian sprung Brad Richardson on a partial breakaway early in the first period. Richardson kicked the puck up to his stick, settled it on his forehand, and roofed it over Cam Ward’s glove hand. It was the Canucks’ first shot of the game.

The weird thing is that this is not the least bit unusual, which is a bit of an oxymoron. In over half of the Canucks’ games so far this season, one of the teams has scored on their very first shot of the game.

That’s odd, right? Can we all agree that’s odd?

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 4, Hurricanes 1

The Carolina Hurricanes came into Vancouver for Tuesday night’s game versus the Canucks with zero wins and seven losses, which meant one of two things: they were definitely going to win, since they were totally due, or they were definitely going to lose, since that’s what they totally do. (That’s right. Filtering the Hurricanes’ record through the lens of my hockey expertise, I determined that the Hurricanes were either going to leave Vancouver with one win or zero. Sometimes they invite me on the radio!)

Turns out it’s zero, as the Hurricanes played the same brand of hapless hockey that got them to Vancouver without a single victory. Just no hap at all. If only they could apply some hapstick. I came up with that terrible, terrible pun while I watched this game.

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Stick in Link: Chris Tanev is good, has good hair

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 lots and lots of goals, and Daniel Sedin’s war on Christmas

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’s frightening, and enlightening about a visit from the Carolina Hurricanes

Last Friday, in advance of the Carolina Hurricanes’ visit to Vancouver, I made an appearance on “Cheaters Never Win”, a Hurricanes podcast. I’ve embedded the chat below, and my segment (which begins at 34:00) is worth a listen, at least early on, not for me, but for the hosts. To hear them speak is to briefly glimpse into the dark and pitiful mind of two Hurricanes fans.

Yes, pitiful, and don’t you roll your eyes at me, Vancouver hockey dude. I know the Hurricanes have hoisted the Cup, which makes it difficult for us here to ever empathize with their plight, but to my mind, Carolina fans have become a special case. Here’s how low they are right now:

At the outset of the interview, the hosts told me that there was a good chance the Hurricanes would still be winless when they arrived in Vancouver.

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You should probably watch this wackadoo video of the Canucks doing team-building exercises

When the Canucks hired Perry Pearn to round out their coaching staff this summer, we were told his primary responsibility would be remaking the powerplay. Thus far, he’d had success: the Canucks have 7 powerplay goals through 8 games.

So what’s Pearn doing differently? For one thing, he’s actually practicing the powerplay, as opposed to refusing to do so and instead shouting “score a [expletive] goal!” at the five guys randomly picked to play the man-advantage just before they go over the boards.

But it turns out there’s more to it than that, as this insane video demonstrates. Seriously, holy crap, this video.

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The Pass it to Bulis Podcast, Episode 8: Passing Judgement and Ben Affleck

The Canucks season is currently in a weird limbo state. We’re far enough in that it seems like we’re seeing trends that will dictate how the entire season will play out, but it’s still far too early to pass judgement on the team.

Daniel and Harrison talk about some of the early season oddities — like the Nashville Predators being first in the Central Division, the Calgary Flames being sort of okay, and the Colorado Avalanche being a big old mess — and what to make of the Canucks suffering two blowout losses in their first seven games.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 4, Capitals 2

There are certain things that Canucks fans firmly believe about their team, even though they have no real proof of those beliefs being true. Two of those beliefs are as follows: the Canucks always make mediocre goaltenders look like Vezina-calibre all-stars and the Canucks are on the receiving end of an above-average number of first career goals, if not the most in the NHL. If you’re a struggling goaltender or a rookie skater, you want to visit Vancouver, where you’re sure to make multiple miraculous saves or pot your first NHL goal and pose for a picture with the puck after the game.

Are these beliefs true? Do the Canucks make bad goaltenders look good more than other NHL teams? Do they give up more first career NHL goals than other teams? I suspect not. But it sure feels true.

So, when the Canucks peppered Capitals keeper Justin Peters in the first period but couldn’t put the puck past him, it just seemed like confirmation of what we already knew to be true. Even after the Canucks took the lead, they gave up a goal to 20-year-old rookie Liam O’Brien: his first NHL goal. It seemed inevitable: the Canucks would surely lose because of another firmly held belief about this season’s Canucks, that they can’t beat good teams.

My beliefs crumbled to pieces when I watched this game.

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Game of the Week: Canucks vs Canadiens, October 30th

The Canucks have three games this week and it wasn’t an easy decision for Game of the Week. Sunday features an all-too rare visit to Vancouver from Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, the only time we’ll get to see him at Rogers Arena this season.

Tuesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes doesn’t seem overly exciting, but it’s a chance for Henrik Sedin and Alex Edler to complete a set. Henrik has scored a goal and Edler has tallied a point against every NHL team apart from the Hurricanes (and the Canucks, of course). All they need is one goal by Henrik assisted by Edler and they can retire from the NHL in good conscience.

But the game of the week won’t come until Thursday, when the Montreal Canadiens are in town.

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The Paper Feature: Good luck explaining the Sedins to people

The Sedins are back.

That appears to be the overriding takeaway from the first nine games of the Vancouver Canucks’ 2014-15 season, as both Daniel and Henrik are operating at better than a point-per-game pace in the earlygoing. The powerplay is clicking, new linemate Radim Vrbata appears to be a strong fit, and suddenly, the twins are twinning at an elite level once again.

Thank the heavens. I, for one, wasn’t willing to see the end of the Sedin era, and not just because I’m a fan of this team and their uncanny twin engine, but because I’m terrified of what comes after the Sedins.

Trying to explain them to people.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 3, Avalanche 7

The Canucks had some trouble with the speed of the Dallas Stars at the beginning of this road trip, so you had to know they were going to struggle to defend against a team that employs both Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene. Those dudes have more speed than Sandra Bullock’s 1990s filmography and, much like diehard fans of Sandra Bullock’s 1990s filmography (such as myself), it’s tough to keep them from The Net.

And so, while the Sedins contributed their usual Practical Magic, the Avalanche’s stars were Forces of Nature that saw a tired Canucks team and decided Friday night was A Time to Kill. Duchene, in particular was a Demolition Man, hopping the boards with a “Who do I Gotta Kill?” look in his eyes, going end to end like a Fire on the Amazon. With his third period goal, he guzzled the Hope Floats of Canuck Nation. Perhaps you, like the Canuck defenders, napped through this one. Well. While You Were Sleeping, I watched this game.

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Real Good Tweets starring @alexlovesburrs and happy former Canucks

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

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Canucks of the Week, starring Justin Bourne, Willie Desjardins, and the Comets

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 4, Blues 1

It may have taken longer than expected — about eight months more — but Ryan Miller the game-breaker finally arrived in St. Louis on Thursday night. Unfortunately, he arrived several months after Ryan Miller, paid employee, had departed the Blues organization. That guy’s a Canuck now. Like so many things in life, this is simply a case of bad timing.

Not a case of bad timing? Me, turning this game on at the precise moment it began. That’s good timing, and as a result, I watched this game.

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Bo goes pro, but Markstrom steals show in Comets home opener

I hadn’t watched any AHL games this season — I honestly do miss having the Abbotsford Heat in town — but I made an exception for Bo Horvat’s first professional game. Horvat made his debut Wednesday night for the Utica Comets thanks to his pre-season shoulder injury. Without that injury, it would be the NHL or OHL for Horvat, but his recuperation allowed him to head to Utica on a conditioning assignment.

Horvat and the Comets faced the former Heat, who are now the Adirondack Flames. Whatever the name, the Comets continued their dominance of Calgary’s farm team. The star of the game, however, wasn’t the 18-year-old centre, who played mainly on the fourth line, or even one of the Canucks’ other highly-touted forward prospects. Instead, Jacob Markstrom, the much-maligned young goaltender, was the standout star.

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Big Numbers: Vrbata shoots, Bieksa leads, Tanev gets hit

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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Stick in Link: Ryan Miller has a bad day; Alex Edler’s 500th game

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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The Prospector: Virtanen, McCann, and Subban make Super Series rosters

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 the Canucks prospects set to play in the Subway Super Series, Jordan Subban’s goalscoring ability, Cole Cassels’ outstanding week, and a few of the Canucks’ prospects in the ECHL.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 3, Stars 6

Last time Willie Desjardins was in Texas, he was lifting the Calder Cup as head coach of the AHL champion Texas Stars. His return did not end nearly as well. I would say it was the exact opposite of winning the Calder Cup, but that would be losing a bent, dirty spoon. As poorly as things went, at least the Canucks didn’t lose a spoon.

The best thing that could be said about this game is that at least it was short. This game effectively ended just over a minute into the second period, when the Stars went up 5-0 and Ryan Miller finally, mercifully, was pulled. That’s it, game over.

That also means the Canucks and Stars played a second game that they dominated and won 3-1. I wish I had only watched that game. Instead, I watched this game.

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16 surprising facts from the Canucks’ media guide

The Canucks’ media guide is a great tool for writers covering the team, laying out all sorts of information about the team and its history, both important and trivial.

If Nick Bonino scores a hattrick, for instance, a beat reporter can easily find out that it’s the second hattrick of his career, that his first came against the Los Angeles Kings on February 2nd, 2013, and that a good way to liven up his lede about Bonino’s great game would be to mention his love for Luke Bryan and suggest that Bonino could be heard saying, “I Don’t Want This Night to End.”

Most of the information available in the media guide is available elsewhere online, but it’s nice to have it all in one place. It’s also astonishingly comprehensive, listing every player to don a Canucks jersey, along with every draft pick, trade, and team award and record, not to mention every single overtime or shootout game, every penalty shot, and every shutout.

It’s easy to get lost in all the information, but here are some of the most surprising facts that jumped out at me from the 2014-15 Canucks media guide. It made sense, what with Trevor Linden taking over as Team President, to list 16.

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