The Paper Feature: The Canucks were never going to sweep

Any Canucks fan dreaming of a sweep over the Flames was bitterly disappointed by the third period of game 1. I mean, every Canucks fan must have been bitterly disappointed watching the Flames score two third period goals, including the winner in the final minute, to steal home ice advantage, but especially those dreaming of a sweep.

It was understandable why some would hope for a sweep. If the Canucks could take care of the Flames quickly while the Jets and Ducks beat each other up in the other Pacific Division matchup, the Canucks could have a worn-out opponent in the second round. Some might have looked at the Flames youth and inexperience and expected the pressure of the playoffs to overwhelm them.

Or perhaps you bought into the rise of advanced statistics this past season, found out that the Flames were one of the worst puck possession teams at 5-on-5 this season, and thought the Flames’ luck would run out just in time to get the brooms out.

But the Canucks were never going to sweep the Flames in the first round and it has a lot less to do with the Flames than it does the Canucks.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 4, Flames 1

Everyone had an opinion on why the Canucks lost Game 1 of their first-round series with the Calgary Flames. Not enough Sedinery; too much Pizza-Juice; Nick Bonino was terrible. But if you ask me, the big issue was simpler than that: after scoring the opening goal, the Canucks stopped scoring. That’s not gonna cut it — not when the Flames turn into werewolves in the light of the third period moon.

But this time, the Canucks scored, and then they scored again. And then again. By the time the third period rolled around, they were too far in front for Calgary’s comeback to have any impact. So naturally, the Flames went nuts instead, offering up pretty convincing rebuttal to anyone who would suggest they’re the most disciplined team in the league. I had my doubts when I watched this game.

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Kris Russell crosschecks Nick Bonino in head; will anyone care?

The Canucks got off to a great start in game 2 against the Flames, out-shooting them 13-3 in the first period and, more importantly, out-scoring them 2-0. It was about as dominant a period as the Canucks played all season and a wave of positivity swept through Canucks fandom.

Then that wave crashed on the rocks of a pretty dumb play by Kris Russell and a little negativity snuck back in.

Right as Chris Higgins scored the Canucks second goal, Russell came down with his stick on the back of Nick Bonino’s head at the side of the net. It bore a strong similarity to a play by Dustin Byfuglien near the end of the regular season that earned the Jets’ defenceman a 4-game suspension. Will Russell get a similar suspension? Will he get any suspension at all?

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Hoodwinked Films just dropped the illest Canucks playoff anthem around [VIDEO]

We’re not wrong often here at Pass it to Bulis, but sometimes it happens, and when it does, we believe in bringing our mistakes right to you, the readers. Here is one such mistake: on Wednesday, after releasing “Sedinery”, an ode to the Sedins that borrows its melody (and single cover art) from Blackstreet classic “No Diggity”, we were convinced that PITB was the source of not just the number one Canucks’ playoff anthem, but also the number one Canuck-themed club banger.

We were wrong. On Friday, the gentlemen at Hoodwinked Films dropped a video of their own, and folks, this thing is where it’s at. It’s an earworm, but it’s also a tapeworm, because you’re gonna feel it in your backside — this is rump-shaking music. But it’s also raw hip hop artistry. It’s like if, instead of spending the last seven minutes of To Pimp a Butterfly just talking, Kendrick Lamar and the ghost of Tupac had given us the hip hop collab we really wanted, nay, needed.

Have I oversold it? You decide.

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Conspiracy Watch: Does the Canucks’ front office hate the Sedins?

For much of the regular season, the Vancouver Canucks have been credited with a balanced forward corps, thanks to additions like Bo Horvat, Derek Dorsett, and Radim Vrbata. This new dynamic lifted the team back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and has been a welcome change of pace after John Tortorella tried to play the Sedins to death during 2014. However, there has been a hidden thread connecting the moves made by the new regime: they’re all the part of Jim Benning and Trevor Linden’s master plan.

Ever since Benning and Linden took over the Vancouver Canucks, they have done everything they can to “make their mark” on the organization by committing significant money to free agents and acquiring the players their coach wanted. Ryan Miller, an expensive free agency signing, has been in the sights of Benning for quite some time. Similarly, “good human” Derek Dorsett was an interesting acquisition considering the cost, but as one of Willie Desjardins’ former Medicine Hat players, the acquisition began to make some sense. Then there were the contracts extensions to Dorsett and Luca Sbisa, which seemed blind to the play of both men during their first year in Vancouver.

Fast forward to today, and we now know that the Canucks aren’t just overpaying for Sbisa and Dorsett, they’re overplaying them too. Instead of deploying Henrik and Daniel Sedin with consistency during Game One against the Calgary Flames, Willie Desjardins opted to play a “balanced” lineup, rolling all four lines almost equally. This, of course, was a large part of the team’s downfall. Henrik and Daniel Sedin are generational players, and while they may be prone to overuse like anyone else, they need to be given the chance to take over a playoff game.

Instead, the Sedins both played less than five minutes each during Wednesday’s third period. Why? Because they were here when Benning and Linen arrived.

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Three things the Canucks can do better in Game 2

Game 2 between the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames goes Friday, and it’s clear the Canucks need to make a few changes if they don’t want this series to get away from them.

For one thing, they need to win more. On Wednesday, they didn’t win at all, and if I may say, that’s not enough winning. But it’s not quite that simple. In order to win more, they’ll need to do the following:

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Stick in Link: Canucks have lost one-straight, will keep rolling four lines

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 three times a week. 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, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Player to watch: Chris Higgins, now with dad strength

Far be it from me to complain about the playoffs, but the Canucks’ postseason berth has had an adverse affect on us here at Pass it to Bulis, albeit a minor one: game of the week has been put to sleep. It’s just a little too easy to pick at this point: whichever game the [...]

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Real Good Tweets, where the Canucks are nearing a dubious record

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

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Jacob Markstrom makes bid for attention with goalie fight [VIDEO]

It’s playoff time in Vancouver, so naturally, all anybody wants to talk about is the goaltenders. Who should be starting? Who’s better? In both cases, the correct answer is Eddie Lack, and unsurprisingly, he was the guy the Canucks turned to in their playoff opener Wednesday night. Will the Canucks stay with Lack, though? One suspects that if the club heads to Calgary down two games, we might see Ryan Miller. Expect Vancouver fans to have some opinions on that.

But while Miller and Lack are fueling debate at the top of the Canucks’ depth chart, third-string option Jacob Markstrom is all but forgotten. Which might have been the motivation behind his goalie fight with Peter Mannino of the Birmingham Senators on Wednesday night: get people talking about ol’ Marky. Take a look:

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Big Numbers: More Sedins, less Bonino seems the way to go after Game 1

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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Willie Desjardins needs to take a page from John Tortorella

It’s pretty clear that Willie Desjardins didn’t watch PITB’s parody video of “No Diggity” before game 1, because he missed out on what, in retrospect, was some pretty good advice. At the end of the first verse is the line “Put the twins on so we can win.” In the third period, Desjardins barely put the twins on the ice. The Canucks lost.

In a tight, one-goal game, the Sedins played under five minutes each in the third period, limiting the impact of the team’s best players at the most crucial point of the game. Meanwhile, the team’s top three defencemen, Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, and Dan Hamhuis, all played below their average ice time during the regular season.

There’s a certain wisdom in continuing to play the same style in the postseason that brought you success in the regular season and the Canucks need to be a four-line team with balanced ice time and scoring, but sometimes Desjardins could stand to borrow from John Tortorella’s favourite strategy: ride your horses.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 1, Flames 2

This was painful to watch, and not just because I spilled all that lye in my eyes this morning. The Canucks were in control of this game through two periods; all they had to do was win da turd, as a certain French-Canadian winger once misremarked. But no one comes back as frequently as the Flames, who are the Brent Favre of hockey teams (minus all the sexting), and when the final buzzer sounded, they had done just that, scoring two in the final frame to steal Game 1.

Now the pressure is firmly on the Canucks, who need to win Game 2, lest they return to Calgary down two games to none. It’s tough to win a series after dropping the first two — although it has been known to happen. Aw heck. I just made myself sadder than I was after I watched this game.

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Eddie Lack the shocking surprise starter for Game 1; we are shocked and surprised

Canucks nation was shocked Wednesday, well and truly shocked, when the Canucks announced that Eddie Lack would be the starting goaltender for Game 1 of the NHL playoffs.

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Canucks vs. Flames: Who’s the real underdog?

There isn’t a soul in the Canucks’ locker room that would ever admit it, but the club had to be over the moon when they learned their first-round playoff opponent would be the Calgary Flames. After all, no playoff team gets outpossessed and outshot the way the Flames do, and that bodes well for outscoring them, since you usually need to possess and shoot the puck in order to score.

But the Flames were probably pretty happy too. The second-worst team to make the postseason, by these metrics? The Vancouver Canucks. What we have, then, is a rare situation where both teams look at their opponent and think, this is my ideal matchup. Neither club is wrong. The numbers may paint the Flames as a beatable opponent, but they also portray the higher-seeded Canucks as eminently upsettable. It’s win-win, except that someone has to lose.

But to hear Flames coach Bob Hartley tell it, this isn’t a battle between two teams that might be a little weak in the knees. It’s David versus Goliath, because the Vancouver Canucks are perfect. “They’re favourites in all departments,” Hartley said, swooning, I imagine.

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Ask it to Bulis: Will Ryan Miller be traded?

It’s time once more for Ask it to Bulis, where two incredibly intelligent, witty, handsome, and humble bloggers answer your questions about life, the universe, and everything, but mostly the Vancouver Canucks. Side effects include enlightenment, rationality, and globophobia.

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Pass it to Bulis presents: ‘Sedinery’ [VIDEO]

It’s been a bounceback year for the Sedins, who went from has-beens to still-ares in 2014-15, rebounding after a disastrous year to post top ten offensive seasons and lead the Canucks back to the postseason. While there’s never been any doubt that the Canucks will only go as far as Daniel and Henrik can carry them, there’s a renewed hope that we could be talking about some real distance. The Sedins have everybody talking again.

They also have us singing. Like all heroes, the Sedins deserve to have their exploits detailed in an ode, and is there anyone more odious than we? I submit that there is not. Presenting “Sedinery”, the long-awaited follow-up to “Holding Out for Bonino”.

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Stick in Link: Bieksa on playoff officiating, Buble’s bracket, playoff X-factors

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 three times a week. 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, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Brad Richardson for Linden Vey is not a defensive upgrade

The key to stopping the Calgary Flames, pundits have said, will be shutting down their top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Jiri Hudler. The line combined for 86 goals this season, over a third of the Flames’ scoring, with the bulk of Calgary’s secondary scoring coming from their defence.

The question on the minds of many, then, has been which line will be assigned this all-important shutdown task, and to that end, fans rejoiced when Brad Richardson returned to practice, skating on a line with Shawn Matthias and Derek Dorsett.

Would Richardson’s defensive prowess earn him this tough assignment? No, for two reasons: the first is that Willie Desjardins doesn’t really line match. At least, he didn’t do so during the regular season, preferring to roll four lines and let the chips fall where they may, with chips one through four all seeing superstar lines, and there’s little reason to expect him to change his strategy.

The second is that Richardson is not really a defensive upgrade on Linden Vey.

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Canucks vs Flames: Who are the experts picking?

It’s that time of year, when anyone remotely associated with hockey is asked one question: “Who’s going to win?” It’s also, unfortunately, a pretty meaningless question. No one knows and even the predictions of hockey experts are no better than that of an animal (monkey, octopus, or adorable puppy) picking randomly.

If we could answer the question, you wouldn’t really want to know. That’s like watching The Usual Suspects knowing all along that Verbal Kint is Keyser Soze. It ruins the whole thing. Also, sorry for ruining The Usual Suspects.

Heck, Bob McKenzie, who is basically the platonic ideal of “hockey expert” at this point, refuses to make predictions, because he feels it influences how he covers a series as a journalist, pulling for the team he predicted to win, if only to salvage his own reputation. But many other hockey experts, journalists, and other media types have made predictions, and we’re going to round them up, along with a choice quote from their series previews. Take note of these predictions for once the series is over, so you can laugh at the people who were wrong and conveniently ignore the people who were right.

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We asked five Flames writers about their dumb team

The Calgary Flames wear red. This much we know. But we’re fuzzy on everything else, and with the Flames set to face off against the Canucks in the first round of the NHL postseason, it behooves us to know the enemy.

That in mind, we’ve assembled a panel of Flames experts, folks that have been following this team for longer, and far closer, than we have: Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald, Flames Nation writers Ryan Pike, Kent Wilson and Neil Davies (@bookofloob), and Yahoo Sports columnist and Flames fan Ryan Lambert.

Obviously it’s important to keep in mind that they’re biased, and that they support the Flames, so their reason and credibility is in question. But we digress.

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The Calgary Flames are bad

It’s been a good year for Canadian hockey, with several teams outperforming expectations, and an impressive five of the seven Canadian teams earning berths in the postseason. It’s enough to make Canadian hockey fans all swoony. Five chances at the country’s first Stanley Cup since 1993? Yes please.

But ah, these teams are not equal. The Jets’ first taste of playoff glory is a nice story. Carey Price and P.K. Subban make the Montreal Canadiens all sorts of fun. The Canucks are, of course, perfect. And it’s nigh impossible to avoid getting sucked in by the miraculous Ottawa Senators and however long Andrew Hammond has left.

But the Calgary Flames? They’re bad.

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Watch these eight Canucks playoff pump-up videos, get sufficiently pumped

It’s Stanley Cup Playoffs Eve, with the Canucks set to open their first round series with the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, and I, for one, am pumped.

Is it possible that you are also pumped? I should hope so. But if not, fear not, as there’s a whole category of videos designed to get you pump. They’re called pump-up videos, and they’re all but guaranteed to up your level of pumpedness. Here are eight.

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Is Ryan Miller really a Game 1 option for the Canucks?

It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where Ryan Miller gets the start in Game 1 between the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames. Here’s one: in an attempt to have “one last adventure” as before starting his first NHL playoff game, Eddie Lack goes parachuting, and winds up getting stuck in a tree. With no other options, the Canucks turn to Miller.

But let’s be honest: unless Lack repeats Uncle Jesse’s mistake from classic Full House season 4 two-parter “The Wedding”, he’ll be the man between the posts on Wednesday, as the returning Ryan Miller remains, by his own admission, a work in progress. Which is why it was so strange to hear Desjardins pump both goalies’ tires in front of the media on Monday afternoon.

“I believe both goaltenders are ready,” Desjardins said, somehow managing to stifle a laugh. (Maybe he hid it behind his moustache, which has been cultivated specifically to complement his poker face?)

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The PITB Podcast, Episode 29: Playoff Preview and the Common Cold

The Canucks are back in the playoffs and facing an old rival in the Calgary Flames. This year, the playoffs feel wide open, with no prohibitive favourite to win the Stanley Cup, giving Canucks fans hope that they can defy the odds and go on a long playoff run.

In order to do so, they’ll have to get past the Flames in the first round. Daniel and Harrison preview that series, but also discuss the Canucks’ final game of the regular season, a high-scoring, pre-season-like affair that made it pretty clear that Ryan Miller won’t be starting in the playoffs.

They also touch on the rest of the NHL, making their picks for the Eastern and Western Conference Finals, as well as the Stanley Cup Final, and take issue with Tim Murray firing Ted Nolan in Buffalo.

Before all that, they talk about the common cold, because Daniel has one. What’s your least favourite cold symptom?

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