Big Numbers: Vrbata’s point streak, Daniel passes Linden

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: Canucks claim McMillan; Yannick Weber bring special celebrity dad on road trip

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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I Watched This Game: Canucks 5, Blackhawks 4 (OT)

In a recent podcast, Harrison and I discussed whether hockey fans really like exciting hockey or if they just like to see winning hockey. This game came incredibly close to being a test case for that question.

This was an incredibly thrilling game, full of high-tempo, back-and-forth action, with the Canucks playing some of their best hockey of the season against the best team in the league through the first two periods. Then the Blackhawks showed why they’re the best team in the league, mounting a late comeback in the third period and pushing the game to a white-knuckling, edge-of-your-seat overtime.

If the Canucks had lost that game in overtime, I have a feeling that many fans would deride it as a terrible game, when, no matter the result, it really wasn’t. It was a fun, entertaining, exciting game that showed the Canucks can compete against any team in the NHL when they’re playing well.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to confront any tough questions about the entertainment value of a loss when I watched this game.

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Winnipeg Jets and the blockbustery day: Canucks were never really in the running for Kane

For the second time in the last 45 years (it’s becoming an alarming pattern!), the Buffalo Sabres have taken that which is rightfully ours.

Not unlike when they stole the 1st overall pick from the Canucks in the 1970 draft by means of witchcraft, the Sabres made a massive trade splash on Tuesday, snatching up disgruntled hometown boy Evander Kane right from under the Canucks’ nose in a blockbuster deal.

Heading to Buffalo: Evander Kane, defenseman Zach Bogosian and goalie Jason Kasdorf. Headed to Winnipeg: Tyler Myers, winger Drew Stafford, prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux and one of the innumerable 2015 first-round picks the Sabres turned up as they continue to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

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I Find This Photo Odd: Eddie Lack has had it with authority

There are just 30 games left in the regular season for the Vancouver Canucks, which means it’s time to start watching the standings in earnest. The Canucks are barely hanging on to the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, though it’s not all doom and gloom. They’re still just two points back of the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks in the Pacific Division, with games in hand on both of them.

Here’s the thing, though: the Canucks need to actually win a couple of those games-in-hand for them to matter. At this point, every game is going to make a difference in the standings, which is why it’s interesting to see Eddie Lack get the start against the Chicago Blackhawks. Willie Desjardins has made it clear all season that Ryan Miller is his number one goaltender, and this kind of marquee matchup doesn’t usually go to the backup.

At this point, goalie controversies don’t matter; wins matter. As the Canucks continue to cede ground to the teams behind them, there may be an opportunity for Lack to steal more starts down the stretch.

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Sedins get apology from Stars’ Jamie Benn, the end

Let’s be honest: nobody wanted to talk about that awful Minnesota Wild game. So it was an infuriating blessing when Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin’s comments on a jocky Dallas radio station, in which the duo played along with a riff on the Sedins that suggested some pretty offensive and crude things, came to light. The city of Vancouver talked mostly about that yesterday instead. Wild game? What Wild game?

But with the Canucks playing the Blackhawks on Wednesday evening, it’s time to retire this story, and wouldn’t you know it, right on cue, it received the ending it deserves, with Jamie Benn doing his captainly duty and reaching out to the Sedins to apologize.

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Stick in Link: A history of Sedin linemates and a mic’d up Alex Burrows

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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Stars’ Seguin, Benn disrespect, insult Sedins on Bad Radio [AUDIO]

There was a time when one could argue that Daniel and Henrik Sedin were the most dynamic and dominant duo in the Western Conference. That time is probably over, mind you, what with the Sedins aging, and their speed of attack and point totals dropping in what one suspects is a correlative relationship.

Meanwhile, as they get older, the young stars of the game stay the same age. These days, one could probably point to, say, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars as the most dangerous one-two punch in the West. They’re faster, more dynamic, and younger.

Of course, with age comes maturity, so while you might take Benn and Seguin on the ice right now, in a broadcast studio, I’ll take the veteran, intelligent Sedins and their ability to know when a conversation is veering into dumb and offensive territory and either steer it back towards reason or shut it down. This is a skill that Benn and Seguin have yet to master, as evidenced by a recent appearance on The Bob and Dan Show (which is also aptly called BaD Radio).

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 3, Wild 5

What’s worse? Watching this game, or watching this game two nights after watching the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins — a win so convincing you wondered if embarrassing evenings like this loss were in the past? It’s sort of amazing. If this loss to the Minnesota Wild had followed the loss to the Sharks, it might have been met with a collective shrug, as everybody acknowledged that this is just who the Canucks are right now. We were already on our way to accepting that, after all.

the Penguins’ game left us wondering if, perhaps, that’s who the Canucks were, and maybe it was the Sharks game that was an aberration. It turned us around. And then — and maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think I’m alone here — the frustration that followed this loss was exacerbated by a sense of naivete, like it was silly to think the Canucks would be able to pick up where they left off versus Pittsburgh. The joke was on me when I watched this game.

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The PITB Podcast, Episode 21: Entertaining Kassian and Beck’s Best Album

The Canucks’ dominant win over the Pittsburgh Penguins was nearly overshadowed by a couple moments featuring Zack Kassian: the broadcast’s bench cam showing him staring at his hands and the massive ovation he received from the Rogers Arena crowd after his goal.

We talk about the entertainment value Kassian brings to the Canucks and how badly Canucks fans want to see him succeed, but also get into Bo Horvat’s strong game against the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and Daniel Sedin breaking his slump on the power play.

Before all that, however, we talk about Beck beating Beyonce for the Best Album Grammy and how Midnite Vultures is great. It’s so great, you guys.

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10 things Zack Kassian is thinking as he stares at his hands

Sportsnet has experimented with a number of different camera angles this season, with mixed results. The novelty wore off the ref cam pretty quickly, but the sky cam is a nice addition, showing more of the ice surface and positioning of the players. Their attempts at bench cameras have generally been a bust, rarely catching anything of interest.

The “spy cam” positioned among the water bottles on the bench during the game between the Canucks and Penguins, however, caught a few good moments, including Doug Lidster coaching Adam Clendenning and Radim Vrbata looking worn out and potty-mouthed after a long shift.

That was all overshadowed by an incredibly odd moment with Zack Kassian, as he stared at his hands like he’d never seen them before.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 5, Penguins 0

After an ugly, dispiriting loss to the San Jose Sharks, the Canucks needed some sign of positivity to end their home stand. Willie Desjardins preached intensity at practice and the team responded, jumping all over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins early, driving the net, drawing penalties, and, most importantly, actually scoring goals.

It was one of the strongest performances of the season for the Canucks, one that could quiet concerns in the room and among the fans, but it unfortunately came with a quiver of caveats that might burst some bubbles.

The Penguins were playing on the second night of a back-to-back and their third game in four nights, while starting their backup goaltender, and at times looked as tired as the Michelin Man. This was an eminently beatable team.

That said, the Canucks have specialized this season in making mediocre goaltenders look like all-stars and have made a habit of losing to top-tier teams of late and, this time, they didn’t do that. Instead, they took control of the game early, built up an insurmountable lead, then didn’t let the Penguins surmount it.

I saw the Canucks score 5 goals with my own eyes when I watched this game.

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Paper Feature: Six ways to get through to Zack Kassian

This was supposed to be Zack Kassian’s breakout season. He started to put it all together at the end of last season, rattling off 10 points in 10 games as the Canucks played out the stretch, and the battle for a second line spot was wide open heading into training camp. It was hoped that Kassian would take hold of the opportunity, impress his new head coach and general manager, and be a consistent second line presence in the lineup.

Regrettably, it hasn’t panned out. While he’s shown flashes of the player he could be, he hasn’t been consistent enough to earn Willie Desjardins’ trust, and has spent most of the season on the third or fourth line. At least, that’s where he’s played when he’s been in the lineup.

Thursday’s game against the San Jose Sharks was Kassian’s third straight game in the press box as a healthy scratch and it’s become a familiar place for him. Understandably, he’s been frustrated and confused, as he had a strong game against Buffalo just prior to this string of scratches and has been a lot better this season than his detractors might think.

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Game of the Week: Canucks vs Bruins, February 13, 2015

Is there really any other way to go this week than the visit from the Boston Bruins?

It’s sure not going to be the trip to Minnesota. Watching the Canucks play the Wild, even now, long after the end of the Jacques Lemaire era, is like popping a couple melatonin and sitting down to watch an episode of “Criminal Minds”. Instant slumber. Plus they played the Wild last week. And they play the Wild again next week.

You could pick the Blackhawks, I guess, but speaking of sleep, that rivalry sort of feels like it’s gone dormant. The Blackhawks remain one of the league’s best teams. The Canucks do not. So it’s hardly a meeting of rivals anymore. It’s more of a measure-up game. Can the Canucks still hang with the Blackhawks?

The Bruins, on the other hand…

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Willie Desjardins’ clipboard gives us a sneak peek at his shootout lineup

The Canucks haven’t seen much of the shootout. Most of their games that have gone past regulation have ended in overtime, with just three of their games this season reaching the shootout, the lowest total in the NHL.

It’s a shame, really, because some of the changes the Canucks made in the off-season significantly improved their chances of winning shootouts. The addition of Ryan Miller, Radim Vrbata, and Nick Bonino gives the Canucks a legitimate boost in the post-game skills contest, but we’ve barely had a chance to see them in action.

Willie Desjardins, however, is always prepared, and a brief glimpse at his ubiquitous clipboard during Thursday night’s game against the Sharks revealed that he has his shooters selected well in advance, despite those selections being needed so rarely.

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Big Numbers: Canucks in danger of being caught; Vrbata hits 20 goals

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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Real Good Tweets, starring free iTunes help from @50_MissionCap

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

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 1, Sharks 5

Chris Tanev is going to make so much money this offseason.

Tanev was already due for a pretty substantial raise in his next contract, just based on the way he’s played this year, and what he’s doing on the top pairing with Alex Edler. But one suspects that Tanev’s agent will probably want the tape from this one, as Canucks played the Sharks without Tanev (who missed the game with concussion symptoms) and looked like a group of guys trying hockey after learning about the game secondhand from an old man that didn’t quite explain it properly.

And I watched this game.

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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 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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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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