I Watched This Game: Canucks 6, Oilers 5 (OT)

Saturday night’s Canucks season finale had a chance to mean something. Coming into the day, the Canucks had already clinched a playoff berth, and they even had a first-round opponent lined up, but home ice advantage was still up for grabs. Unfortunately, by the time 7pm Pacific rolled around, everything had already been settled, rendering the tilt with the Oilers completely meaningless.

But that’s okay. It made for a poetic close to the Canucks’ 2014-15 season, as the club ended the campaign the same way they opened it: by scoring a bunch of goals on the Edmonton Oilers. I’ll admit it was a little freaky, as I thought, for a moment, that someone had accidentally reset the Canucks’ season and we were back at game 1, especially when I realized Ryan Miller was back in the net, but my friends were able to calm me down and convince me we were in the present as I watched this game.

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Our 15 favourite GIFs of the Canucks regular season

The Vancouver Canucks will play their 82nd game of the regular season Saturday night, signalling the end of the 2014-15 regular season. But wait! There’s more! Turns out this one’s a two-parter, as the Canucks have gained entry in the 2015 NHL playoffs, and will kick off the second season on either Thursday or Wednesday of next week, either at home or in Calgary.

Naturally, most people are looking ahead. After all, the Canucks could soon win their first playoff game since 2012, and their first playoff round since 2011. The future is where it’s at. But let’s not be too hasty to relegate this regular-season to the annals of history, especially since it was such a great year for GIFs.

Admittedly, we didn’t get anything up there with “Sedins in Sync” or “Jarkko Ruutu, Huge Jerk”, but there were still plenty of great, loopable moments for the Canucks. Before we turn our attention to the playoffs, let’s look back. Here are our 15 favourite GIFs of the Canucks’ regular season.

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Conspiracy Watch: Did the NHL just give the Calgary Flames a playoff spot?

Conspiracy Watch is the official PITB home for the tinfoil-hatters, a large demographic in Vancouver that deserves to have its voice heard. Every Friday, Kevin Vanstone will espouse and catalog insane conspiracy theories no one else will validate, probably because they’re too true.

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Canucks won their first playoff series by sweeping the Flames, 33 years ago today

It’s amazing how much has fallen into place for the Canucks this season. Sure, the team is vastly improved from last year’s disaster, but that’s hardly the only reason they find themselves in a position to clinch home ice advantage in the first round of the NHL postseason. The Pacific Division going from Marlon Brando tough to Marlon Brando soft played a role as well.

That was best demonstrated Thursday night, as the Canucks walloped the hapless Arizona Coyotes while, one province East, the Calgary Flames were eliminating the Los Angeles Kings from playoff contention and guaranteeing a playoff matchup with Vancouver in the process.

Let’s be honest: that’s actually pretty ridiculous. The Coyotes weren’t supposed to be this terrible. Neither were the Kings. Or the Sharks, for that matter. All three of these teams were supposed to finish ahead of the Flames this season, but they did not, and the Canucks get their ideal first-round playoff opponent (although, in fairness, so do the Flames) as a result.

That’s a good sign for the Canucks. And so is this little nugget: today, April 10, the day after the Flames/Canucks series became official, is the 33rd anniversary of the Canucks’ first playoff series win in franchise history: a sweep of the Calgary Flames.

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Real Good Tweets, starring @jocelynaspa’s perfect Oilers tweet

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

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 5, Coyotes 0

Let’s face it: with the Canucks clinching a playoff berth on Tuesday, this game just didn’t feel all that important. At most, home ice advantage in the playoffs was on the line, which just doesn’t tie up your innards as much as the playoffs themselves being on the line.

What was happening elsewhere in the league made this game recede even further. Over in the Eastern Conference, Roberto Luongo and the Panthers upset the Bruins, while the Senators shutout the Presidents Trophy-winning Rangers, who were resting players for the postseason. That means the Bruins are at risk of missing the playoffs, which I wouldn’t mind one bit.

More importantly, here in the Western Conference, the Kings played the Flames for their playoff lives. The game took place at the same time, more or less, as the Canucks game and provided enough innards-tying for both games. The Flames were up 2-0 heading into the third, but the Kings pulled within one in short order, then pressed hard for the equalizer, firing 14 shots on net in the third period. They couldn’t do it. The Kings are dead and the Canucks will face the Flames in the first round of the playoffs.

I had one eye on the out-of-town scoreboard as I watched this game.

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Big Numbers: Dorsett and Sbisa by the numbers; balanced scoring equals playoff payoff

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.

Statistics are gathered from NHL.com, War-on-Ice.com, Puckalytics.com, HockeyAnalysis.com, BehindtheNet.ca, and elsewhere.

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Stick in Link: Canucks in the playoffs; Radim Vrbata, elite goal-scorer

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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Overpayments to Sbisa, Dorsett are enough to make one distrustful of entire Canucks’ front office

It’s possible that the contract extensions announced Wednesday for winger Derek Dorsett and defender Luca Sbisa will work out for the Canucks. Heck, they could be deemed as bargains before they even kick in. Imagine a long playoff run, maybe even a successful one, that ends with the Canucks hoisting the Stanley Cup, and role players like Dorsett and Sbisa hailed for their clutch, yeomanly work during the Canucks’ march to a title.

Or maybe it takes a little longer, until sometime next season, for instance. Maybe the 28-year-old Dorsett is a late bloomer with a lot more to give the Canucks. Maybe he really is on the verge of becoming the all-situations player Willie Desjardins — and, as we discovered with his deal, Jim Benning and Trevor Linden — think he is. Maybe Luca Sbisa, too, is about to put it all together and spend his next few seasons as a relatively unassailed member of the Canucks’ top four.

It’s not impossible. But one thing we know for sure is that, in order for Sbisa’s new three-year, $10.8M deal and Dorsett’s four-year, $10.6M deal to ever be seen as anything other than ill-advised, foolish, wasteful contracts, Dorsett and Sbisa are going to have to get better than they currently are.

At the time of this writing, these are bad deals, alarming overpayments that deserve a facepalm at the very least, an apology to Flames fans for mocking the Deryk Engelland signing at the very most, and, somewhere in the middle, maybe even a complete reassessment of the current regime’s ability to run the ship anywhere but aground. Which is amazing, since it comes the day after they clinched an unlikely playoff spot.

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Canucks sign Sbisa and Dorsett to terrible three and four-year extensions

When Jim Benning re-signed Chris Tanev to a long-term extension, the praise was unanimous. Everyone likes Tanev, from the fanciest of fancy statters to those who decry advanced statistics as ruining the game. Tanev’s quiet, calm game both looks good on the ice and translates to his underlying numbers. He’s a player everyone can love.

Today, Benning gave out contract extensions to Luca Sbisa and Derek Dorsett. The acclaim won’t be anywhere near as universal.

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Spitballin’ on the Canucks’ two-headed monster and their fresh new strategy of getting points

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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Who should win the Canucks’ year-end awards?

The Canucks have two games yet to play this regular season, and while a playoff berth has already been clinched, there are still reasons to watch them: love of the game, for one thing. But if that’s not enough for you, there’s the return of Ryan Miller, the quest for home-ice advantage in Round 1, and, of course, the Canucks’ year-end awards ceremony.

Who will take home the Cyclone Taylor (MVP), Babe Pratt (Best Defenceman), Pavel Bure (Most Exciting Player), and Fred J. Hume (Unsung Hero) trophies? Now, this is a question that The Vancouver Sun claims has already been asked and answered by their hockey writers. But we know that’s garbage, since we’re Sun hockey writers and no one frickin’ asked us. Such disrespect.

It’s a shame, too, since we would have brought a little sense to the table. The Sun’s trio of Canuck writers — Iain MacIntyre, Elliott Pap, and Brad Ziemer — all picked Radim Vrbata as their MVP, and we suspect the fans are about to do the same. Unless we can help it. Everybody is wrong. Same for those trumpeting Jannik Hansen as unsung hero. No. Bad. At this point, Hansen has been sung about as often as Stagger Lee.

Here are the correct picks for the Canucks’ year-end awards.

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Canucks clinch a playoff spot with Kings’ loss to Oilers

Just one year after a campaign so disastrous it cost the Canucks their 474-game sellout streak, got a coach fired after just one season (not to mention his President and General Manager), and had most people, including the pundits, writing Vancouver off for this season and, often, the next few as well, the Vancouver Canucks are back in the dance.

The Canucks received their all-important X on Tuesday night, when the Edmonton Oilers proved you can’t spell “playoff spoilers” without “Oilers”, knocking off the Los Angeles Kings in regulation by a score of 4-2. With that, the Kings’ ceiling becomes 97 points, which is, coincidentally, the Canucks’ current number of points. But the Canucks hold the all-important first tiebreaker — regulation and overtime wins — and they will continue to do so even if the Kings win out, so it’s over. The Kings may still get in, but they’re not getting ahead of the Canucks.

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The PITB Podcast, Episode 28: Dethroning Kings and Pitch Perfect

The Canucks defeated the Kings in a crucial game on Monday night, potentially leaving the defending Stanley Cup Champions outside of the playoffs. It was close and hard-fought, proving that the Canucks can compete with the Kings if they do end up meeting in the first round.

We break down the game, including Daniel Sedin’s gametying goal off an incredible pass by Henrik Sedin and their performance in general. We also talk about the surprising Yannick Weber, who hasn’t received the praise he’s due for how well he’s played. Then we get into the implications for the playoff picture, with the Flames and Kings playing what may be a deciding game on Thursday, and talk about the goaltending situation, with Eddie Lack playing great hockey and Ryan Miller trying to get back in time for the playoffs.

We also find time to talk about Furious 7, Lethal Weapon, Kenan Thompson, and Kyle Wellwood. Before all that, however, we talk about the movie Pitch Perfect for basically no reason whatsoever.

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Stick in Link: Eddie Lack’s on top of his toes, Bo Horvat has earned trust

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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Breakdowning some serious Sedinery versus the L.A. Kings

With time ticking way in the third period versus the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night, the Canucks had to know it was going to take something special to tie things up. The Kings, after all, are the masters of the one-goal affair. “Clutch” may be more of a narrative conceit than a real thing, but if anybody exists as evidence to the contrary, it’s Jonathan Quick, and the players in front of him are committed to keeping the myth alive. The Kings were locked into their game.

Fortunately, so were the Sedins, those wizards, and upon realizing a special goal was the key, the duo went down to the cauldron room and cooked up a little magic.

It’s so fancy. But you already know. Still, a goal this nice deserves to be looked at twice, and perhaps even thrice or frice. Which is why we’re here to break it down. Let us begin.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 2, Kings 1 (SO)

Sweden is a pretty great country. Not only do they remain the world’s largest exporter of blondes — and what the world needs now is blondes, sweet blondes — but they’ve also provided Vancouver a handful of very good hockey players: Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Alex Edler, Eddie Lack. As Monday night’s all-important 2-1 shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings demonstrated, unless there’s an ABBA reunion tour swinging through Rogers Arena, you’re not getting a better Swedish foursome than this one.

Each played a major role in this victory. The Sedins and Edler dragged the game into overtime. Once there, Lack shut the door. The result: two huge points, and while it’s still not a mathematical certainty, the Canucks’ 97 points are more than likely good enough for an unofficial ticket into the 2014-15 Stanley Cup playoffs, where Vancouver will have a chance to bring home their second Stanley Cup in 101 years. I’d say they’re due. And capable, since they certainly seemed like world-beaters when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 4, Jets 5

The Winnipeg Jets played some desperate hockey in this game and it’s understandable why. The Jets entered the game tied at 90 points with the Los Angeles Kings for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference, with the Kings holding the tiebreaker.

So, when the Jets came out flying like, er, jets, in the first period, the Canucks, who have struggled with their starts for most of the season, couldn’t keep pace. The Jets jumped out to a quick two-goal lead and the Canucks were chasing for the rest of the game.

On the plus side, there is now a greater probability that the Kings miss the playoffs, putting the puck largely in the Canucks hands as they face the Kings on Monday. Depending on other results, the Canucks could clinch the playoffs and keep the Kings on the outside looking in.

I saw silver linings when I watched this game.

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The Paper Feature: Alex Burrows is the scum/salt of the earth

Alex Burrows is the scum of the earth: a dirty, headhunting, moustache-twirling villain, who only leaves his secret volcano-island lair to bite fingers, pull hair, or, worse, embellish a penalty. He’s exactly the type of player the NHL wants out of the game.

Alex Burrows is the salt of the earth: a hard-working, blue-collar player, who battled his way up from being an undrafted ECHLer all the way to the top line of a Presidents’ Trophy winner. He’s the buster of slumps and the slayer of dragons. The NHL could use more players like him.

How can one player inspire such opposing reactions?

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How the Canucks could still clinch a playoff spot on Saturday

With just four games remaining in their regular season, the Canucks sit second in the Pacific Division with a four-point cushion on their next-closest rival, the Calgary Flames. Considering how difficult it is to gain ground in the NHL standings, one might be forgiven for assuming the Canucks had a postseason seed all locked up.

Mind you, no true Canucks fan would make that assumption. Anyone who’s been following this team for more than a couple years knows that if you can dream up a doomsday scenario, the Canucks can find a way to make it happen. In this case, a simple, ill-timed losing skid could do it: if the Canucks lose all four of their remaining games, they’ll finish the season at 95 points, which would mathematically allow the Kings, Flames, and Jets to finish ahead of them. It’s highly unlikely, but so was losing 4 of 5 in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. We’re a wounded bunch. We won’t rest until the Canucks have officially clinched.

To that end, some good news: despite what you’ve heard, the Canucks could conceivably do that as early as Saturday. All they need is to beat the Jets, then hope the Flames and Kings lose. That would be enough.

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Canucks of the Week, where Ryan Miller returns, and the Department plays it cool

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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Canucks call up Sven Baertschi; where does he fit in the lineup?

Ever since the Canucks acquired Sven Baertschi from the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline, he has been tearing things up with the Utica Comets. Baertschi was once the most highly hyped prospect in the Flames organization and his hot start in Utica has earned him some fresh hype.

The 22-year-old winger has 7 goals and 13 points in 12 games with the Comets, so it’s understandable that the Canucks would want to see what he can do with the Canucks. But where does he fit? What line does he play on? Who comes out of the lineup?

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Real Good Tweets, starring a heartbreaking April Fools’ prank

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

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 1, Blackhawks 3

A win Thursday night versus the Chicago Blackhawks would have been the Canucks’ third in a row, a feat that qualifies as what the pundits often call a “winning streak”. Two wins is no streak. Three wins? Welcome to Streaksville, pal. Unfortunately, the Blackhawks stopped the Canucks in their tracks, denying the streak like a skilled window washer.

It’s actually a little bit of a problem. The Canucks have been denied their third win in a row eleven times this season, and as we approach the playoffs, that’s a cause for concern. You can’t keep winning two in a row and then losing one. That’s no formula for postseason success.

Actually, wait. It totally is. Nevermind. I watched this game.

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Stick in Link: Matthias fine with fourth line, Comets clinch, and Desjardins demands discipline

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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