Tuesday, April 12, 2011

PITB Sells Out

In case you missed it, Pass it to Bulis has joined the Vancouver Sun just in time for the playoffs. For those who think we're selling out, understand that selling out requires the promise of far more money than we're forecasted to receive.

Make sure you update your bookmarks to passittobulis.com (or vancouversun.com/passittobulis) rather than http://passittobulis.blogspot.com.

Updates will no longer be posted to Blogspot. Wish us luck adapting to a finicky new Wordpress engine.

Rest assured, we will continue to provide the same quality of commentary on the Canucks that you have come to know and love, and that we do not intend to become [bigger] jerks. The only reason this was at all possible is because we have the greatest readers in Internet history and we don't intend to lose sight of that.

Now go here, because that's where we are now.

The Best of the Sedins, 2010-11 (10-6)

PITB's first post ever was a top 5 countdown of the best Sedin goals of last season, posted exactly a year ago today. We thought, in honour of our first birthday, and the fact that the Sedins are totally balls, it was time to return to our roots. What are blogs for if not for lists?

Unlike last year, there is no de facto number one, but there are about fifteen plays worthy of a spot in the top five. As a result, we've doubled the list, and will now be counting down the top ten Sedin plays of 2010-11. Be warned: this list is highly subjective. Last week's post, in which we shared 12 wizardous candidates, proved consensus on this issue to be impossible. As a result, we just decided to go with our gut, and I can safely say that my gut's never steered me wrong (apart from the time it asked for a bacon sundae).

Anyway. Here are plays 10 - 6. Check back here at 4pm sharp for the final five.


The Chicago Blackhawks Are Bad

After two consecutive playoff oustings, you'd think it would be difficult to find a Vancouver Canucks fan who has anything but ill will for the Chicago Blackhawks. Unfortunately, this isn't the case, as some people think the Blackhawks are all right. Yes, some people have a hard time hating a team with plenty of ties to the West Coast. Some people watched Jonathan Toews lead Canada to an Olympic gold medal, and they think he's A-okay. And some people simply have the Blackhawks confused with other things. Good things. Things for which they feel fondness.

It's time to clear this up once and for all. People, hear me: the Chicago Blackhawks are bad. BAD. If you think they are good, you obviously have them confused with something else. That thing cannot possibly be the Blackhawks, because the Blackhawks are bad.

You may be thinking of Black Hawk, the Lakota artist whose 76 colour drawings are a part of Native American ledger art history. Black Hawk is admirable and sympathetic, especially since he was killed in the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890. If you feel admiration and sympathy, you're likely thinking of Black Hawk. You couldn't possibly be thinking of the Chicago Blackhawks, who are neither admirable nor sympathetic. They are the worst kind of bad. They're named after atrocities.

Monday, April 11, 2011

2011 Round One Preview: Chicago Blackhawks

For the third year in a row, the Vancouver Canucks will be facing the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup playoffs. After two ignominious defeats in the second round, this year the Canucks will get the chance to exorcise their playoff demons in round one. The match-up is one the media, fans, and players have been eagerly anticipating, but it's not exactly a pure re-match.

The Blackhawks of 2010-11 are not the Blackhawks of 2009-10. Last season, the Blackhawks were just plain better than the Canucks. In the off-season, however, due to some mismanagement of the cap by Dale Tallon, the Hawks said farewell to much of their vaunted depth. Gone are Ben Eager, Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg, Brent Sopel, Colin Fraser, Adam Burish, John Madden and Canuck nemesis Dustin Byfuglien. Gone, too, are both goaltenders from last season. Playoff hero Antti Niemi signed with the San Jose Sharks while Cristobal Huet was sent to Switzerland to eat chocolate, wear pocket watches, and design knives.

Top 5 Canuck Hipchecks of 2010-11

Some say the hipcheck is a lost art in the NHL, but you'd be hard pressed to find a Vancouver fan that feels this way. The offseason additions of Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis, two defenders that love to hip check, made going wide versus the Canucks a downright dicey proposition. Eventually, even Aaron Rome fell in love with the hit, giving the Canucks three guys who could surprise with a hipcheck at seemingly any moment. The result: perhaps the only team in the NHL for whom the hipcheck was common.

I'm not sure Canucks fans realized how spoiled they were this season. With that in mind, PITB has compiled a countdown of the five finest hipchecks thrown by the boys in blue and green in the 2010-11:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Was This Goal a Set Play?

Here's a basic principle for watching the Sedins: they never do anything by accident. Often times, the twins will pull off something so unthinkable that you'd be forgiven for deeming it a fluke. It never is. Rather, it's a set play from two eternal optimists--guys convinced everything they try will work. Usually it does.

With that in mind, take a look at Alex Burrows's goal from last night's season-ending matchup with the Calgary Flames. At first glance, it looks like an accident: Daniel Sedin comes out from behind the net and tries to go top corner with a shot. Instead, he misses wide and hits Alex Burrows in the gut. The puck falls in front of Burr and he taps it in. But that's not actually what you see. This was a set play, executed to perfection. Here are three items of argumentative proof:

I Watched This Game: Canucks at Flames, April 10, 2011

Canucks 3 - 2 Flames (OT)

For the third time in the last four years, the Canucks and Flames found themselves paired up for game 82 with little on the line. Considering the lopsided outcome of the previous two season-enders, with the Flames walloping the Canucks 7-1 in 2008 and the Canucks matching that goal total in a 7-3 rout last year, one might have assumed that this contest wouldn't be lively or close. But it was. Like extramarital sex with a ghost, this one was a spirited affair. After falling behind by two, Vancouver needed a third-period comeback and an overtime marker from Christian Ehrhoff to head into the postseason on a winning note. I watched this game:

  • Also a winning note: C.
  • Just like last year, Daniel and Henrik combined for an absolute beauty in the final game of the season, setting up Ryan Kesler for the game-tying goal (above). This one adhered to the Third Law of Sedinery, which says that the Sedins will always make one more pass than is necessary. Consider: Daniel is in behind the defense. Most other players cut to the net in this instance for what is routinely called a breakaway. Instead, Daniel goes wide, drawing both defenders to him, then makes a backpass through four guys to Henrik, who finds Kesler trailing the play. Seriously. The Sedins are the only guys that find trailers on breakaways. These guys love trailers. They have to be a half hour early for every movie, that's how much they love trailers.
  • The assist was Daniel Sedin's second of the night, after a centring pass that allowed Alex Burrows to cut the lead in half. With that, Daniel finishes the season with 104 points, good for the Art Ross trophy. He truly was out for blood. Now, it may be eight less than his brother scored last season, but it's also ten more than his brother scored this season. Suck on that, Henrik.
  • I love Kevin Weekes' liberal use of the word literally. He's like Rob Lowe in Parks & Recreation. Consider this Weekes-ism, following an early third-period assault from the Canucks: Alain Vigneault obviously did some fine work in this intermission because the Canucks have come out on fire literally. Hmm. I can tell you that, if the Canucks came out from their locker room and they were literally on fire, the broadcast would have taken a markedly different turn.
  • There were seven slashing penalties in this game. Seven. Seven! This one had more slashes than a complicated URL. The worst of these was a Henrik Sedin two-hander that seemed relatively out of character Captain Hook, typically known for more passive stick infractions. Slashing is more of Mikael Samuelsson's thing. Now, one might argue that, if Sammy's so slashy, how come he wasn't called for a slash in this slashiest of games? Remember that his third period roughing penalty came when he was pulled out of a scrum he started with a slash. Yes, Mikael Samuelsson slashes like Wal-Mart. Know what else has a lot of slashes? This paragraph. Slash slash slash.
  • Alex Burrows isn't known for his skating, but it's hard to miss his improvement in this area. It really stood out during a first period penalty kill, where he won a puck battle, then took the puck around his net and blew the zone with possession. Then, after putting a shot on goal, Burrows managed to be the first forward back, in perfect position to intercept a weak pass from Olli Jokinen. Some beautiful strides during this sequence. For a guy who used to look like he was the only player on the ice wearing roller blades, Burrows has come a long way.
  • That said, he's still Alex Burrows. Consider a third period altercation with Jarome Iginla where he goaded Iginla into dropping the gloves, only to forget to reciprocate. Whoops. I suspect Burrows' passion for winning turds stems from the fact that he sort of is one.
  • It was fabulous to see all six members of the Canucks' defense finally combine to form Mega Dragonzord. They were a little too reliant on stretch passes last night, but the promise of this group is hard to ignore. Any one of them can spring a guy at any time. Another good way to spring a guy? Have a girl walk in with an itty-bitty waist and a round thing in your face.
  • Congratulations to Christian Ehrhoff on collecting his 50th point of the campaign on the overtime winner. Ehrhoff has had a fabulous season, and now becomes the first Canucks' defenseman in 15 years to reach the 50-point plateau. Henrik Karlsson was upset about the goal, feeling he'd been interfered with. Unfortunately, the refs didn't buy it, maybe because claiming Mason Raymond interfered with you is a little like claiming Jesus drank all the wine.
  • Aaron Rome actually didn't look too bad playing wing on the 4th line. He had 3 shots, 4 hits and a takeaway, as well as a few decent scoring chances. In truth, Rome acquitted himself nicely enough that this could potentially be an option in the playoffs. It might be a nice way to ensure that the Canucks don't find themselves, after an injury, playing with five d-men in the late stages of an important game. Sidenote: at one point, I was concerned Rome's strong play might earn him a few extra shifts, somehow managing to give him more minutes than Keith Ballard, even as a fourth-line winger.
  • There was a brief scare during the first period, when Ryan Kesler headed to the dressing room with an apparent knee injury. Mind you, you had to know he was coming back. When I was a child, I had a posable MC Hammer doll, and my brother popped off its legs, then reattached them backwards, so Hammer's knee bent up towards his stomach. If that had happened to Kesler's knee, he would still have returned. Rule of thumb: if Kesler doesn't leave the game via medicopter, he'll be back soon.
  • This was Cory Schneider's 25th appearance of the season, and by allowing fewer than eight goals, he has officially won a share of the Jennings trophy with Roberto Luongo. Schneider's play this season has been fabulous, but I hope this was his last game as a Canuck. A playoff appearance means something has gone horribly wrong, and a return as Lou's backup next season would be beneath him. One could easily argue Schneider is the best rookie goalie in the NHL. He finishes fifth in the league with a 2.23 goals against average, and his .929 save percentage is good for third. In fact, his performance last night bumped his save percentage one point better than Luongo's, dropping the Canucks' starter to fourth in the category. This parting blow may affect Luongo's outside shot at a Vezina nomination, as the "top three in wins, GAA, and SV%" argument is now dead. Think Luongo regrets lobbying for Schneider to get 25 appearances now?

Saturday, April 09, 2011

From the Archives: Tomorrow's Headlines Today

On Friday, October 8th, 2010, the day before the puck dropped to begin the Canucks' regular season, we at PITB made some bold predictions about the headlines this season of hockey might generate. With the regular season set to expire after tonight's HNIC tilt with the Calgary Flames, we thought it might be a good idea to go back and see how many if these predictions turned out to be stone-cold prophecies.

As it turns out, the answer is one. Exactly six months ago yesterday, I predicted that Raffi Torres would be suspended four games for a headshot. No lie, I sailed right into the mystic on that one. You'll forgive me if I quit my job, invest in small tent, some hanging beads and a dry ice machine, and begin plying my trade as a carnival seer. Looks like I've got the psychic goods.

But don't take my word for it. Check it out for yourself, and maybe ignore the other nineteen I got wrong. Anyway. Here, for your perusal, is Tomorrow's Headlines Today: This Season's Canuck News, an original PITB article.
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