Chris Tanev is injured, which means Luca Sbisa is on the top pairing against the Sharks
Breakdowning Luca Sbisa’s surprising overtime winner versus Winnipeg

Just as everyone predicted, Luca Sbisa was the hero Tuesday night when the Canucks played host to the Winnipeg Jets. Less than a minute into overtime, the Swiss blueliner executed a 200-foot give-and-go with Radim Vrbata, starting the breakout, then following Vrbata into the zone for the centring pass and the goal.

It’s not unreasonable to ask how a thing like this could happen. Sbisa has all of three goals this season and, again, he was at his own goal line when this play started. How does he wind up in front of the Jets’ goal with enough time and space to put the puck into it? The answer is simple: because the Jets screwed up. Like, a bunch. Let’s break it down.

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The Sedins totally cheated at Heads Up! at Dice and Ice

The Canucks’ annual Dice and Ice event in support of the Canucks for Kids Fund is always a treat, both for those who attend the event and us poor schlubs who only get to experience the fun by proxy through the various photo galleries and videos that are released after the fact.

Last season, the event was held prior to Christmas, giving us the memorable ugly Christmas sweater fashion show and revealed Zac Dalpe’s intense love for Sarah McLachlan. Past rookies were forced to dance, leading to a classic dance-off between Alex Edler and Luc Bourdon (RIP).

This time around, the entertainment was clearly talk show inspired, as the rookies, instead of singing or dancing like past rookies were forced to do, played a game of Egg Roulette, a staple on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

The veterans, meanwhile, got a much less messy challenge, participating in a few rounds of Ellen DeGeneres’s iPad party game, Heads Up!, with the players splitting into teams based on their nationality. This, it turned out, was a mistake, as one of the few rules of Heads Up!, which combines elements of Taboo and Charades, is that you can’t say the word on the screen when you’re giving clues.

There’s some wiggle room, however, when the participants share a language other than English and, as we well know, if you give the Sedins some room out there, they’ll exploit it.

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

It’s time to get on board the Ronalds Kenins bandwagon. The Latvian rookie winger has been on fire through his first three games as a Canuck, scoring two goals from the fourth line, giving him the best goals-per-game average in franchise history. Yes, better than Pavel Bure. Are we saying that Kenins is better than Bure? No, we’re not.

The statistics are.

Sure, there will be the killjoys who point out that Kenins currently has a 33.3% shooting percentage, which is probably unsustainable or something, and argue that we shouldn’t get too excited about such success in small sample sizes. And sure, both his goals looked like they should have been stopped by the goaltenders that allowed them, but have we considered the possibility that Kenins is able to curve pucks like James McAvoy curves bullets in Wanted?

It’s not just a possibility, it’s a certainty.

At this point, it’s about time that Kenins gets kitted out with a real number, rather than the rookie 41 he’s currently wearing, not just because he’s going to stay up with the Canucks, but because the Canucks need to know what number to retire. With his second goal in as many games, Kenins proved that he’s a legend in the making.

Like the thousands of time travellers from the future who came back to witness this historic moment in time, I watched this game.

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The PITB Podcast, Episode 20: Super Bowl Sympathies and Kevin Hart

The Seahawks lost Super Bowl XLIX in one of the most devastating ways possible, with the game seemingly in hand before it was all so suddenly taken away. What would be the equivalent for the Canucks? The Nathan Lafayette post in 1994? Losing to the Calgary Flames in overtime of game 7 in the 2004 playoffs after Markus Naslund and Matt Cooke combined to tie the game with 5 seconds left? Or is there any moment that matches that kind of heartbreak?

We try to answer that question, but also discuss the Canucks past couple games — beating the woeful Sabres before succumbing to the Minnesota Wild — Adam Clendening’s debut as a Canuck, the need to relegate Luca Sbisa to the press box, Zack Kassian’s recent comments to the media, and the trade rumours circling Kassian, Eddie Lack, and Jacob Markstrom.

Before all that, however, we talk about Kevin Hart and how he’s basically a less funny, less edgy version of Chris Rock.

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Stick in Link: Zack Kassian seems frustrated for some reason; best Canucks plays of January

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

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What’s the Canucks equivalent to what happened to the Seahawks?

All things considered, Seattle fans did a pretty good job of keeping their emotions in check after Sunday’s shocking Super Bowl conclusion. Especially if you juxtapose it with the reaction to another championship loss a few clicks north in 2011.

I’ll admit up front that I’m not a Seahawks fan. I mean, I cheered for them like everybody else in this town, but at the end of the day, their loss didn’t crush me. After all, I’d only been paying attention for a month or so. It wasn’t too difficult to brush it off. But I know from being a Canucks fan that you can’t do that as a diehard. I know some people had a hard time waking up this morning and going to work, and not because they drank too much — they were just too crushed by the end of this game. But I don’t know that, as a Canucks fan, even amidst all the disappointed I’ve ever felt with this frustrating team, I’ve ever felt what serious Seahawks fans are feeling right now.

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Spitballin’ on aging in reverse, moving Miller, and a Comets-themed wedding

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: Very bold thoughts on the Canucks

Quick note to the editors before I start this piece: this week is a tricky one. As you know, even though these articles run on Saturday, they have to be filed by Thursday. That’s usually fine, but on Friday, the Canucks play the Buffalo Sabres, and I think it’s safe to say that the mood in Vancouver will be drastically different if they lose. After all, it was one thing to lose to the Anaheim Ducks — hockey’s best team. It’s something else entirely to lose to hockey’s worst team — a team that’s all but trying to lose most nights.

With that in mind, I’ve had to write this week’s article with both a win and a loss in mind. Here’s what you’ll have to do Friday night: if the Canucks win, simply remove all the words in bold. But if they lose, leave the article as-is. DON’T FORGET TO DO THIS OR I’LL LOOK FOOLISH.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 5, Sabres 2

The Canucks’ home life has been troubling of late. It’s been showing in their work, and there have been outbursts in class and on the playground. Their last goal in front of the home fans came on January the 8th, and while that tidbit looks a little more damning thanks to the five-game road trip that followed it, it still meant they’d gone two straight home games without a goal. That’s bad.

But not as bad as the Buffalo Sabres, whose city name, if you add the results of every game in the month of January, is Buffalollllllllllll. It’s also an apt description of the team at the moment, approaching the NHL record for most losses in a row as they march towards the NHL basement, where Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are currently being held prisoner. This is a historically bad team, one that seems to have forgotten how to even do hockey in the basic sense. At times in this game they seemed to think this was a Boggle tournament. But it was indeed a hockey game, however laughable, and I watched this game.

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Canucks of the Week, starring an expecting Ryan Miller

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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Kevin Bieksa doesn’t trust Alex Burrows, except for relationship advice [VIDEO]

Given that sports coverage in the past week has been obsessed with Marshawn Lynch’s antagonistic relationship with the media, it’s a great time for a new video from Cabral “Cabbie” Richards, who is able to get past the usual cliches in his interviews with athletes thanks to his charm, humour, and unusual questions.

Even better, his latest video, on the subject of trusting teammates, features Kevin Bieksa, who is one of the best interviewees in the entire NHL, regularly providing reporters with hilarious quotes. He’s at his most entertaining when he’s not even meant to be the subject of the interview, such as when he butted in on an interview with Nathan McKinnon at the World Championships or, more famously, when he did an entire interview during the 2012 playoffs while pretending to be Ryan Kesler.

As we might expect, Bieksa’s segments with Cabbie are fantastic, as he calls Alex Burrows a liar, details how far he trusts his Swedish teammates, and ends the video by doing something completely unexpected that I refuse to spoil.

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Real Good Tweets, starring @INCH_Gladdy and Radim Vrbata’s lesser linemates

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

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Big Numbers: Sedins struggle, Matthias is a penalty-killing boss

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 [...]

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Canucks trade young prospect for older player on an expiring contract

Just last week, Jim Benning made it clear that he had no intention of trading draft picks or prospects and Trevor Linden reiterated that sentiment on the weekend. Though the Canucks certainly hope to make the playoffs this season, they’re still quietly in the first year of a rebuild, attempting to build up the team’s prospect pool. Dipping into that pool to improve the current team just doesn’t make sense.

The shallowest area of the prospect pool is on the defensive end, with no blue chip prospects to speak of, though there are certainly some intriguing names. One of those names is Gustav Forsling, the Canucks’ 2014 5th round pick who led all defencemen in scoring during the World Junior Championship as an 18-year-old.

So why, you might ask, would Benning not only trade a prospect, but also trade from their weakest position and one of their most promising prospects at that position? Because he brought back a defenceman prospect back in return, one who has a similar skillset, but is much further along in his development. So yes, the headline of this article is intentionally inflammatory.

Benning sent Gustav Forsling to the Chicago Blackhawks for the 22-year-old Adam Clendening, a talented offensive defenceman who was playing with the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL, but seems ready to make the jump to the NHL and may do so as early as this weekend with the Canucks.

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Canucks recall Ronalds Kenins, who is only one guy

Derek Dorsett missed Canucks practice on Thursday with a reported neck injury, which may be a euphemism for “concussion,” though I’m not a euphemism doctor. Meanwhile, Ryan Kesler didn’t even have a phone hearing for elbow Dorsett in the head, which is infuriating.

With Dorsett out for who knows how long and Brad Richardson still yet to return from his foot injury, that leaves the Canucks short a bottom-six forward, so the Canucks made the call to the Utica Comets and came up with Ronalds Kenins, who is certainly not the player that most expected.

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Luca Sbisa thinks the Canucks’ mascot is named ‘Whale’

Luca Sbisa has played 40 games as a member of the Vancouver Canucks. Admittedly, that hardly makes him a lifer, but there are a few things you’d think he would know by now, like, say, the name of the Canucks’ mascot.

Among the discoveries from Wednesday night’s Dice and Ice charity event, however: Sbisa has no earthly idea.

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Stick in Link: Canucks are too small, have no answers, must make a trade, obviously lost a game recently

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

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The Prospector: McCann and Cassels go streaking, Markstrom compared to Bishop

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, Jared McCann rips with Nick Ritchie, Cole Cassels stays consistent, Jake Virtanen loves back-to-back-to-back games, and Jacob Markstrom draws a comparison to Ben Bishop.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 0, Ducks 4

I’m just writing this post so I don’t get fined.

I watched this game.

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Stick in Link: Trevor Linden on scouting, Frank Corrado on second pairing

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

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Chris Higgins just cares about defence too much

Chris Higgins is a genius.

The Canuck winger hasn’t scored since December 22nd, and you have to go all the way back to November to find another goal after that. Higgins is on pace for just 11 goals, and for a guy that’s supposed to be a mainstay on the second line, not to mention one who finished second in goals for this team a year ago with 17, that isn’t nearly good enough.

But, as mentioned, Higgins is a genius. Which is why, when asked to explain the massive dip in his production, he’s got this brilliant answer in his back pocket. From The Province:

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What’s gone wrong with the Canucks’ power play?

The Canucks are going into the All-Star break on a roll, or maybe they’re not, depending on how few or how many games you want to bundle into the phrase “going into the All-Star break”. As pointed out earlier this week, the Canucks enter the break with a loss, but won three-of-their-last four, but only won five-of-ten in January.

We can say pretty definitively, however, that the Canucks’ power play is not on a roll going into the All-Star break, unless you mean rolling down a hill towards a pile of sharp rocks, gaining speed all the while.

After failing to score on a whopping 7 power plays against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Canucks have now had 13 straight power plays without a goal. It’s even worse when you consider the Canucks had two 5-on-3 power plays against the Lightning, playing with a two-man advantage for over a minute-and-a-half, and only managed two shots on goal in that time.

That only represents three games without a power play goal, with the Canucks going 2-for-3 against the Philadelphia Flyers and their 29th-ranked penalty kill. Before that, they went 0-for-10. That means they’re 2-for-26 on the power play over the last 8 games, for a 7.7 power play percentage. That’s bad. That’s really, really bad.

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Radim Vrbata opens scoring at the NHL All-Star Game

As is his wont, Radim Vrbata has had a quiet, unassuming All-Star Weekend. There were no drunken shenanigans during the draft for Vrbata, as he simply grinned, enjoying the moment. He was decent during the skills competition, breaking four targets in the accuracy shooting competition in just over 22 seconds, enough to defeat his opponent, John Tavares, but far from the best result of the evening.

All season long, Vrbata has let his play do the talking, leading the Canucks with 18 goals. So far at the All-Star Game, he’s doing the same, opening the scoring for Team Foligno against none other than Roberto Luongo.

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Jake Virtanen goes end-to-end, scores ridiculous goal

It’s been an odd season for Jake Virtanen. It started late, as he was still recovering from his off-season shoulder surgery, and it was interrupted by the World Junior Championships, where he won gold while playing in a lesser role. Perhaps this is why it’s been hard for Virtanen to truly get rolling.

While he is still averaging more than a point-per-game, he’s on-pace for fewer goals than his draft year and hasn’t taken a big step forward as an 18-year-old in Junior. There are certainly positive signs –he’s picking up far more assists, which might alleviate concerns about his passing and vision — but it’s hard not to expect more from the Canucks’ highest draft pick since the Sedins.

But when he scores an astonishing goal like he just did against the Swift Current Broncos, all the reasons why Jim Benning and the Canucks were so high on the kid come crashing back into view.

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