The PITB Podcast, Episode 6: First Impressions and Leonard Cohen

The Canucks are off to a 2-0 start, which has Vancouver optimistic and hopeful for the first time in a while. Sure, those first two wins have come against the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, but the new Canucks coaching staff is making a good first impression on the fanbase.

We talk about those first two games, the experience of coming together to watch hockey with strangers, the systematic differences between Willie Desjardins and John Tortorella, and constantly go completely off-topic. Also, Harrison talks about Leonard Cohen and “Hallelujah.”

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‘I’m Daniel’, and other great moments in misidentifying Canucks

It’s every sports media member’s nightmare: you go to talk to a player, perhaps about the game he just played, and after a couple of awkward questions, he has to tell you that you have him confused with someone else.

Incredibly, it doesn’t happen very often, even in Vancouver, which is saying something since the Canucks have two guys who look literally identical to one another and, as teammates and coaches will tell you, remain difficult to differentiate even after years of seeing them every day.

How has it been so long since the last mistake? Maybe because they can get a little intense when you get it wrong, as poor Joey Kenward did after Saturday’s 5-4 shootout win over the Oilers.

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Burrows’ assist on Bonino’s goal was not a hand pass

The Canucks have been getting their fair share of breaks to start the season, including a string of 7 consecutive power plays against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night. But there was one other break that had Oilers’ fans crying foul and several hockey blogs buzzing.

On Nick Bonino’s second period goal that reduced the Canucks’ deficit to 3-to-2, it was readily apparent that the puck went off Alex Burrows’ glove before it was collected by Dan Hamhuis and sent towards the net for the tip-in. As fans, we expect that kind of play to be immediately blown dead for a hand pass. Instead, play continued and the goal counted.

Was it the wrong call? Should the score have remained at 3-1? If so, could the Canucks have still come back to win or would they have dropped their home opener, leading to mass hysteria in Canucks nation and a massive over-correction from the coaching staff to dead puck era, trapping hockey?

No. It wasn’t the wrong call because it wasn’t a hand pass according to the NHL rulebook.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 5, Oilers 4 (SO)

This game alone was more exciting than the entire 2013-14 season. It was high-flying, defence-be-damned, entertaining hockey. There were fights — non-staged fights! — hits, goals, saves, controversy, an entirely-too-intense overtime period, and even a shootout for you heathens out there that enjoy that kind of thing.

But the real highlight of this game — the thing that made watching it completely worthwhile — was the Dry Scrape. For the first time this season, we got to see the zambonis come on the ice before overtime, rather than before the shootout, and scrape the ice clean without flooding it so that it didn’t need time to freeze. Truly a momentous occasion.

It was a privilege to witness such an historic event when I watched this game.

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Game of the Week: Canucks vs Oilers, October 11th

The Canucks play just two games between now and next Saturday morning, which doesn’t give us a lot of choice for our first ever “Game of the Week.” Should we choose this game against the Oilers or that game against the Oilers? So many options!

With no difference in the opponents, we’ll have to go with everything else surrounding the game, which makes it a clear decision. The Game of the Week has to be the home opener tonight, the first Saturday night game of the season, nationally televised on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.

Or, more appropriately, Rogers’ Hockey Night in Canada. Rogers paid out $5.2 billion for exclusive national broadcast rights of the NHL in Canada for the next 12 years, but kept the Saturday night broadcast on CBC.

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The Paper Feature: Ten gimmicky fan acts that could replace The Green Men

It’s hockey season once again, that beautiful time of year when we reverse our metamorphosis into social butterflies and return to our hockey cocoon, or hockoon. Ah, hockey season. What a time. If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of a sports journalist clacking out the lede “the boys are back in town” on his laptop.

It’s true, though. The boys are back in town, save for Jannik Hansen, who never left. I saw him leaving a Safeway parking lot in August. That’s right. Jannik Hansen shops at Safeway, and it’s a commendable choice. Their store-brand orange juice has just the right amount of pulp.

But it’s not just the players who are returning. The fans, too, are coming back around, albeit not in the droves they have in years past. That’s going to take some time. With a riot, a lockout, two first round exits and the short-lived John Tortorella era darkening their experience over the last four years, many are, understandably, keeping the team at arm’s length for the moment.

This has been the story for much of the offseason, with fans way, way down the season ticket waiting list getting calls, and the Canucks admitting they haven’t sold as many packages as they’d like. But let’s not dwell on that. Our concern here today isn’t the status of every fan. We’re thinking of two in particular: the Green Men, Force and Sully.

Are they thinking of retiring the fluorescent green zentai suits? The duo won’t be at the home opener, and now that they’ve got a shiny new radio program Saturday nights on TSN 1410, one wonders if their schtick is slowly going to be phased out. And if so, who will replace them as Vancouver’s bizarre and notable fans du jour? Here are a handful of suggestions:

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Spitballin’ on small sample sizes, shootout practice, and Todd Bertuzzi: lounge pianist

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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Canucks of the Week, starring Burrows, ref cams, and Willie

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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Breakdowning Henrik Sedin’s highlight-reel empty-netter

It’s probably too early to say Henrik and Daniel Sedin are back, since one game does not a season make, especially one game against the cellar-bound Calgary Flames, but there were moments in the 4-2 win where it was perfectly clear that they’re determined to get back. One such moment: Henrik Sedin’s empty-netter to seal the victory. If this is the effort level we can expect to see from Henrik this season, one suspects his line will be a touch more effective than they were last year.

This goal was the result of more than just effort, however. Henrik tried very hard, no doubt, but you also need to have an incredible skillset, not to mention a remarkable head for the game to pull this off. Let’s take a closer look at the scoring play:

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Stick in Link: Sbisa gets it; free beer for everyone

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, featuring @KentBaskyNM and his monkey theory

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

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Big Numbers: Burrows scores early, Edler leads Canucks

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 4, Flames 2

It’s difficult to know how excited to get about Wednesday night’s season-opening win for the Canucks over the Flames. On the one hand, it’s been so long since we’ve seen the Canucks play a meaningful game at all, let alone win one this way, scoring powerplay goals, getting game-breaking offence from the Sedins, deploying the infuriating and effective Alex Burrows, and holding onto leads — it was all very satisfying. But is it sustainable, or is this just the sort of thing that happens when you get to open the season versus the Calgary Flames, as opposed to, say, an angry, vengeful San Jose Sharks team?

I mean, have you looked at the Flames’ lineup? Paul Romanuk called this game, rather than John Shorthouse, because Sportsnet was looking to show off their fancy new NHL broadcasting rights and the toys and personnel it allowed them to acquire, and while the new voice felt a bit strange, it made a great deal of sense. After all, Romanuk’s main gig of late has been calling the Spengler Cup, that tournament that features the best Canadian players who aren’t good enough to stick in the NHL, and the Flames employ a lot of guys he needs to be familiar with in a year or two.

Like Paul Romanuk brushing up for Davos, I watched this game.

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Seven guys who weren’t on the Canucks last year

The Vancouver Canucks promised change this offseason, and true to their word, the 2014-15 roster features a bevy of new faces. A quick glance at the announced opening-day roster yields a number of unfamiliar names.

That in mind, here are seven guys who weren’t on the Canucks last year.

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Parody of intermission Canucks interviews is hilarious, sweaty [VIDEO]

The 2014-15 regular season kicks off tonight and you know what that means: lots of intermission interviews that tell us the team needs to get more shots on goal in the upcoming period.

Intermission interviews are a wealth of no new information whatsoever. That makes them ideal fodder for parody and funny folks Kiah & Tara Jean stick the landing with this great video that nails every aspect of intermission interviews, particularly their sweatiness.

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Pass it to Bulis presents: ‘Holding Out For Bonino’ [VIDEO]

Before Jim Benning could even start building the great wall o’ players in his office, he had to deal with Ryan Kesler, whose agent Kurt Overhardt began from day one to demand the new Canucks GM do what the old Canucks GM couldn’t or wouldn’t, and make a trade. Then, perhaps to ensure that the team Kesler was joining wouldn’t be gutted in the transaction, the list of teams for whom Kesler would waive his no-trade clause was whittled down to two.

Benning made the trade anyway, sending Kesler to Anaheim in a deal that centered (pun!) around Nick Bonino. Some said Benning merely settled for Bonino. But what if Bonino is who he wanted all along? Come with us as we explore this theory through song, borrowing from the epic melodies of Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For a Hero”.

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The 2014-15 Canucks: A super-cynical season preview

Last season was one of the worst in Canucks history, with the team coming just short of setting a franchise record for fewest goals in a non-lockout season. It was ugly, uninspiring hockey and it cost both the coach and the GM their jobs.

“Change is Coming” the Canucks said and, on the surface, that appears to be true, with a bevy of new players joining the team. Ultimately, however, those changes amount to putting lipstick on a pig. And not particularly nice lipstick either. Like, slate grey lipstick.

“At least things can’t get any worse,” says the naive Canucks fan. So very, very naive. Things can always get worse. This season is going to be horri-awful.

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Stick in Link: Bieksa’s health, Desjardins’ craziness, and Lafayette’s memories of ’94

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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Get pumped for the season with amazing videos from Samir Javer, Clay Imoo

On Wednesday night, Vancouver fans get to enjoy something they’ve not enjoyed in since last spring, or maybe even further back, depending on when last year became unbearable for you: a regular-season Canucks game, as the Sedins and company kick off the 2014-15 campaign in Calgary versus the Flames.

Just one more sleep. But fret not. While today is bound to feel almost as long and unbearable as the John Tortorella era, two of Canuck Nation’s best Youtubers, Samir Javer and Clay Imoo, have dropped new videos to help tide us over.

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The 2014-15 Canucks: a super-optimistic season preview

It was hardly a banner year for the 2013-14 Canucks, and that’s saying something, because we’ve grown accustomed to banners in this city. Two Presidents’ Trophy banners. Five Northwest Division title banners. The last year the Canucks didn’t win something, even if only in their sandbox, was 2007-08. And wouldn’t you know it, that was also the last time the Canucks failed to make the playoffs. Is there a correlation? I dare suggest there is. The secret, my friends, is banners. Is it any wonder that the Canucks’ first losing season in six coincided with the year they decided to consolidate their five Northwest Division banners into one? You take down the banners, my friends, and the banners will take you down.

2013-14 was a dismal campaign, and it came at a cost. The official slogan, “We Are All Canucks”, was struck, in favour of “Change is Coming”. And the change did come. President and General Manager Mike Gillis was dismissed, as was coach John Tortorella. In their stead came Trevor Linden (president), Jim Benning (GM), and Willie Desjardins (coach).

On the ice, there were personnel changes as well. Of the 33 players that played a game for the Canucks last season, 13 are no longer in the organization, with leading goal-scorer Ryan Kesler the most notable departure.

But how will these changes affect the team’s performance? Splendidly, I say. This season is going to rule.

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The PITB Podcast, Episode 5: Season preview and sophomore albums

Kiss my butt. Roll Tide.

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Camp Cuts: Nicklas Jensen to Utica, as Tom Sestito lives to fight another day

Nicklas Jensen is the latest impressive young forward to fall victim to his lack of waiver eligibility, as the Canucks sent the big winger to the Utica Comets in their bid to get down to the 23-man roster limit. I think I speak for everyone, save Tom Sestito, when I say, well, shoot. The move [...]

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I Watched This Pre-Season Game: Canucks vs Edmonton Oilers, October 4, 2014

It’s tradition in Vancouver to complain about the NHL schedule. Doesn’t matter that our beef is actually with the Atlantic Ocean, whose East Coast Bias runs deeper than any NHL schedulemaker. The transatlantic-migration-and-its-effect-on-population-density argument doesn’t really fly over here. It’s clear the NHL is out to screw us.

But if we’re going to complain about the negatives of the schedule, we should also praise the positives, like how the Canucks got to close their preseason with two games versus the defensively hapless Edmonton Oilers. There’s really no better way to go into the regular season, especially for a team that lost their offensive mojo last season, than by playing the Oilers, who make every NHL team feel like, well, the 1980s Edmonton Oilers. Honestly, playing these Oilers fills you with such a confidence, one wonders if they’re even a real team. Is it possible the Oilers have been inside you all along?

Maybe. But I’m pretty confident they’re real, since they played in this game and I watched this game.

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Canucks anthem singer, Mark Donnelly, wipes out mid-anthem in Penticton [VIDEO]

It’s pre-season for the Canucks, but it’s also pre-season for a lot of other people: referees, arena staff, zamboni drivers, and, apparently, anthem singers.

While warming up for the start of the NHL regular season at a Penticton Vees game, Canucks anthem singer Mark Donnelly tripped over the carpet in the middle of “O Canada”, crashing to the ice. Like a true professional, however, Donnelly didn’t skip a beat, continuing to sing from his rear end.

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Canucks would be wise to pursue Blackhawks’ Leddy, Bruins’ Boychuk (Update: nevermind)

True fact: If you’re over the cap to start the NHL season, the angel of death sweeps through your house and takes your firstborn. It’s the worst.

That in mind, the Chicago Blackhawks have some work to do. Like many teams, The Blackhawks were banking on a $71 million dollar cap heading into the 2014-15 campaign. It didn’t happen. Instead, either because the gods are cruel or because they’re immature children, the cap landed at $69 million. Now Chicago has to shed some payroll before the season gets underway — a little over $2 million, or about the cost of one Nick Leddy.

And wouldn’t you know it, Leddy’s on the block. Same goes, perhaps, for Johnny Boychuck in Boston.

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