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.

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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.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Hey Mr. Tambellini, Play a Song For Me

Preferably something upbeat, with a catchy chorus.

At the beginning of the season, Jeff Tambellini looked like a young hotshot poised for a breakout season. After struggling to work his way into the lineup, Tambellini found chemistry on the second line with Kesler and Raymond, forming a speedster trio that wreaked havoc on opposition defenses.

With 15 points (9 G, 6A) in his first 21 games with the Canucks, it looked like Gillis had found a cheap replacement for the departed Michael Grabner. Their similar attributes - speed and an accurate wristshot - made the two players seem eminently comparable: last season, Grabner had 11 points in 20 games with the big club, so it seemed, at the time, that Tambellini was even better, especially when Grabner was waived by the Florida Panthers out of training camp.

Tambellini capped off his first 21 games with a 6-game point-scoring streak in December, culminating in a contest on December 28th against the Philadelphia Flyers in which he took a game-high 9 shots, finished +2, and even won a faceoff for good measure. He managed all of this in just 13:18 of ice time.

Since that date, he has a grand total of 2 points in his last 40 games, both assists. He hasn't registered a point since February 2nd against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Three Reasons Why Throwing Salmon Is a Bad Idea

A better use for salmon.

A month ago, at the tail end of a 4-3 Vancouver road win over the Calgary Flames, a Canucks fan threw a salmon onto the ice. It was kind of a dick move, but it was presumed to be an isolated incident, like that time someone shone a green laser in Miikka Kiprusoff's eyes. Then, last night, someone else did it again.

A repeat performance of the salmon chuck forces us to consider the possibility that this is becoming a thing. If indeed a minor tradition is blossoming, we also need to consider whether or not this is what we want. Do we want be fans that throw salmon? I would say no, and here are three reasons why:

I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Wild, April 7, 2011

Canucks 5 - 0 Wild


After consecutive losses to the Edmonton Oilers pushed the city of Vancouver to the brink of martial law, you had to think a loss to the Minnesota Wild would be the tipping point. Fans, it seemed, were one poor effort away from killing one another for the contents of their refrigerators. Thankfully, the Canucks staved off a full-scale societal collapse by coming out in this one a little more interested in winning, and they were fortunate to meet a Wild team only to happy to help. The result was a shellacking that will likely quell civil unrest until the team loses again, at which point all the ammo and applesauce I bought will prove quite useful. In the meantime, I watched this game:

  • The pregame awards ceremony went pretty much as expected, with Daniel Sedin taking home the MVP, Christian Ehrhoff retaining his best defenseman title, Ryan Kesler winning most exciting player, and Jannik Hansen being named the most unsung. The Presidents Trophy presentation was understated, except for that part where Manny Malhotra showed up, and people went nuts. Talk about crowd pop. It was great to see him. In case you were wondering, Henrik Sedin did not touch the President's Trophy, but I get that whole superstition now. Once you realize that it looks like a crystal bidet, I'm sure any motivation to touch it disappears.
  • I especially liked Malhotra's Versace protection sunglasses. It was either that, or a diamond-studded eyepatch.
  • Marc Donnelly is starting to mix things up. The other night he turned the anthem into a duet. Tonight, he did a different run. If he's trying to reinvent himself, he should call Timbaland.
  • After facing criticism for a mild scoring lull to close out the season, Ryan Kesler used tonight as an opportunity to answer back with a hat trick. First, he redeemed himself for his near-infamous powerplay whiff in last Oilers game, where he double-clutched on a tap-in at the goal line and wound up blocking his own shot. He and the Sedins tried the exact same play again, this time with a different result. After successfully making amends on that one, Kesler spent the night bringing his wrist shot back to lethality. He scored two beauties on the rush with perfectly placed snapshots, going high glove side on the first and high stick side on the second (above). Kesler claims he was extra motivated because Farhan Lalji pissed him off earlier in the day. If that's the case, I suggest Farhan Lalji conduct all Ryan Kesler interviews for the duration of the playoffs, with every intent of incensing him: some feel you can't carry this team to a cup. Also, that you're a big dummy. How would you respond to this?
  • Frankly, if there was any disappointing aspect to tonight's game, it's that Kesler's hat trick was met with alarmingly few tossed hats. Shocking stat: in terms of personal items thrown on the ice, the ratio of hats to salmon was about even. Not cool, you guys.
  • Kesler's hat trick goal was his 40th of the season. Quoth John Garrett: 40 is an excellent number. I'm assuming he meant in regards to scoring totals, but he might just like the number 40. Maybe he likes how it looks? He's seen it everywhere this anniversary season, maybe this was a subtle plea for help from a man that's been driven mad by the number's constant presence in his life? He could be completely obsessed with it, like Jim Carrey and 23.
  • Early adopters to PITB will recall that, before he and I became Scrabble buddies, Tanner Glass's presence on the third line offended me, especially throughout last year's playoffs. It seems the universe has a wicked sense of humour, as Glass appears to be have garnered a promotion in the absence of Raffi Torres. Soon, my worst nightmares will come true. Next thing you know, Byron Ritche will return to man the powerplay.
  • Poor Jannik Hansen. First he lost his center to an eye injury, then he lost his other winger to a suspension. He did an admirable job on his lonesome, even setting up Mason Raymond for the game's opening goal with a beautiful cross-ice pass, but his gloved punch to Pierre Marc-Bouchard was a clear sign that he wants to be suspended too, so the line can be reunited in the press box.
  • Speaking of suspensions, frankly, Greg Zanon's 1st period elbow to the head of Maxim Lapierre might have warranted one that stretched into the playoffs. Lucky for Zanon, the Wild didn't make the playoffs.
  • Both of Mason Raymond's goals came on wrist shots after fancy setups, the first from Jannik Hansen, and the second from Daniel Sedin, but they weren't tap-ins. Raymond put himself in great position to receive both passes, and these are places he might not go while playing the wing. He was also the only faceoff guy to finish over 50% on the night. He appears to be adapting to his new role as third-line center quite well. It makes sense. There's a little less pressure to score, it's harder to get over to the side boards and circle the zone, and there's a little more ice. Mason Raymond really likes extra ice. Whenever he goes to Earl's, he asks the waitress to make sure there's plenty in his drink; otherwise, his soda is much too strong.
  • Alain Vigneault rolled all four lines, resulting in steady icetime for everyone, save Jeff Tambellini. Tambellini played eight and a half minutes. No other Canuck played less than fourteen. When you can't find icetime for Jeff Tambellini in a blowout in the last home game of the season, it's safe to say you aren't trying. Victor Oreskovich might want to reserve an airport shuttle.
  • Last night marked the return of Alex Edler to the lineup. He looked good, albeit a little out of sync. He also seemed determined to regain some lost ground in the hits category. He had a game-high four hits in this game, which, as Jeff Paterson tweeted, should answer some questions going forward. Questions like: who led the game in hits and In what category did Alex Edler lead the game? Also: which game did Alex Edler lead in hits?
  • Edler was immediately returned to his initial pairing with Christian Ehrhoff, sending Sami Salo to the bottom pairing with Keith Ballard. This is the match the Canucks have been hoping to make all season, but injuries have prevented Sami and Keith from being together long enough to click. Looks like they finally get together in the end. If this sounds a lot like a romantic comedy, that's because it is. After the game, Sami found out he was the subject of a bet to make him over and get him elected prom queen. Expect a last act poolside dance.
  • Speaking of bets, Roberto Luongo picked up his fourth shutout of the season last night, much to his surprise, and he told reporters that, prior to the third period, he and Cory Schneider bet on who would break the goose egg. Schneider picked Miettinen. Luongo picked Edler. Chew on this: what if Edler actually had scored an own goal, but Miettinen had the last touch? SUCH A DISPUTE IS UNSOLVABLE.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Players Who Commit Headshots Are Not Evil



You had to know that it wouldn't be too long before Raffi Torres found himself in hot water over a headshot. Having watched him play all season, it's been clear to me that, while he tends to hit cleanly (and beautifully, at times), he also hits often (134 this season). This style of play is not without its risks. By this, I mean head hits like the one Torres laid on Jordan Eberle.

I'm not excusing it or arguing against the suspension handed down this afternoon. Torres deserved to be suspended for this hit because of what it was. This was a headshot. He did not, however, deserve to be demonized for it. Unfortunately, he was, and it wasn't fair. This was an accident. Most headshots are.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Factual Inaccuracies in "How The West Was One"


Local musician Kyprios has released a new song, "How The West Was One," a Canuck anthem just in time for the playoffs. It's a decent song, actually, with some slick production and decent flow. I like it. Though he drops fewer rhymes than the Bible's got psalms, Kyprios demonstrates a legit knowledge of the Canucks and proves himself a true fan. There are, however, some factual inaccuracies in the lyrics, which, as a super-famous Canuck blog co-writer, I feel obliged to correct, so as to avoid spreading fallacies amongst the Canuck fanbase.

I Watched This Game: Canucks at Oilers, April 5, 2011

Canucks 0 - 2 Oilers


After watching the awful game on Saturday between these two teams, I was initially pleased that Harrison was on IWTG duty for that game and I was responsible for this game. Surely the Canucks would put together a better effort. Surely they wouldn't lose to the Oilers two games in a row. Surely they would buckle down, straighten up, put their hand to the plow and nose to the grindstone, swing into action and and take the bull by the horns. Instead, like Buffy Summers (seen above), the Canucks were just going through the motions all game long. However, as our Twitter followers pointed out, when Buffy was going through the motions, she still won. The Canucks did not. And while I wish I had instead watched "Once More, With Feeling" again, I watched this game.

  • Through 10 minutes, the Canucks had 1 shot on goal, putting them on pace for 6. It was an ugly, ugly opening to this game. The rest of the game wasn't much better, as they never sustained any significant offensive and pressure and never truly challenged Dubnyk. Actually, I'm not quite sure who was out there in the Canucks uniforms, but they certainly bore very little resemblance to the Canucks that I have watched all season long. I suspect Mike Gillis sought out 20 fanatical Canuck fans amongst the various adult rec leagues in BC, had them undergo radical plastic surgery to turn them into Canuck doppelgangers, and had them replace the real Canucks as soon as they wrapped up the Presidents' Trophy. The real Canucks are busy training underwater like Team Evil from Shaolin Soccer.
  • Seriously, though, there's no reason to be concerned. The Canucks are, unsurprisingly, playing like a team with nothing to play for. While it would certainly be nice to see them continue to dominate the opposition in these final games before the playoffs, it's not surprising to see them play with such little urgency. The only thing they're concerned about at this point is avoiding injuries. Despite playing shorthanded for over 11 minutes, only one forward--Ryan Kesler--blocked a shot on the penalty kill.
  • Alain Vigneault kept his promise of getting Schneider into enough games to qualify for the Jennings Trophy, if the Canucks can hang onto it. With the game essentially over, we got 28 Seconds of Schneider, which, coincidentally, is also the name of my Electro-Pop side project.
  • On a positive note this picture of Linus Omark with the Sedins is absolutely incredible. The company that made the Sedins' tracksuits is still in business; Bruce Boudreau is their biggest customer.
  • Despite the Canucks best efforts to phone this game in, it was abundantly clear that they were indeed the better, more skilled team. They just weren't the hardest working team. The Oilers' first period goal with just seconds remaining was pure luck, deflecting off Ryan Jones' skate on the powerplay. They needed a 4 minute 5-on-3 to beat Luongo again. They seemed to be pretty excited about barely defeating a barely-there Canucks team, but considering they have very little to be excited about in Edmonton right now, I'll guess we'll let them savor this for a bit.
  • Noticing how the Canucks were phoning in this game, the refs decided to do the same. It was a poorly managed game from start to finish, as they waited too long to call coincidental minors on one of the many post-whistle scrums, one of the many reasons the game got out of hand and ugly. The other reason was that the Oilers somehow didn't end up shorthanded until the start of the third period. Meanwhile, the Sedins got tripped, hooked, and mugged. Daniel and Henrik discovered after the game that their loonies and toonies were stolen.
  • The worst non-call, however, came while the Canucks were killing off the 5-on-3 powerplay: Mason Raymond used his speed to get the puck deep and was attempting to kill time along the boards. His effort was cut short when he was slammed face first into the boards directly from behind. Nothing. No call. Gutless. I couldn't find video of it anywhere: instead, enjoy this blatant tackle of Ryan Kesler by Theo Peckham favorably labeled in the NHL video highlights as a "hit." Anyone notice how the arm and hand that Peckham wrapped around Kesler was nowhere near his own stick? The referees didn't.
  • Vancouver's normal course of action when a team is taking liberties physically is to punish them with goals on the powerplay. With the referees so reticent to put the Canucks on the powerplay, they eventually took matters into their own hands, taking some unnecessary and flagrant penalties. The double crosscheck that, in combination with the Torres major, destroyed any hope of a comeback by the comatose Canucks, was almost as blatant as Derek Smalls' foil-wrapped cucumber.
  • I admit: my frustration with the reffing initially clouded my vision on the Raffi Torres hit on Jordan Eberle. After some time to unwind and watch the replays, it's a clear blindside hit to the head. While Torres definitely had his elbow tucked in and wasn't aiming for the head (in fact making contact with his elbow on Eberle's shoulder first), the principle point of contact was the head. Torres will likely face a suspension, though I don't expect anything more than two games considering his clean history with the league and that Eberle immediately popped to his feet, played on the following powerplay, and is evidently completely uninjured.
  • The ice at Rexall is shamefully bad. The puck bounced all over the place, a severe handicap for a smooth-passing team like the Canucks. Ryan Kesler seemed to struggle the most, frequently losing the handle while carrying the puck, resulting in 3 recorded giveaways, a game high. Considering he now has only 19 recorded giveaways over the entire season, that's significant. He also whiffed actively prevented the puck going in on a wide open net during the Canucks first powerplay. Let's just say that it wasn't his best game, but he did lead the Canucks in shorthanded time on ice, won 11-of-18 faceoffs, and broke the glass behind Devan Dubnyk in the first period...with his wristshot. I've said it before, I'll say it again: the NHL should introduce a hardest wristshot competition at the All Star Game.
  • Aaron Rome appears to be incapable of passing the puck. It has become infuriating: he is very capable of making the simple play - the bank off the glass out of the zone, the dump-in from the blue line, the soft wrist shot from the point into the goalies pads - but seems unable to make higher-level plays than that. While there is certainly a place for a player like Aaron Rome, it's not in the top-four of a Stanley Cup favorite. Fortunately, with Alex Edler and Andrew Alberts practicing with the team and Dan Hamhuis skating again on his own, Rome might not even be on the ice to start the playoffs.
  • I'm honestly trying to think of some positive things to say: I suppose Ehrhoff and Bieksa were okay. Luongo made some nice saves. Unless Raymond received a stealth concussion from bashing his face on the boards, they escaped the game without injuries. Higgins still appears capable of playing hockey in a competent manner. Ugh. I'm praising competence. This was a bad game. Let's just all forget it happened, bite our lips through the final two games of the regular season, and try to survive until the start of the playoffs.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

From the What If Files: Aaron Rome's Empty-Net Goal

On March 29, in the dying seconds of a road game versus the Nashville Predators, Canucks' defenseman Aaron Rome scored his first goal as a Canuck. It was a 200-foot empty-netter, but that didn't make it any less special for Vancouver, who celebrated the rare occurrence (it was Rome's 100th game with the team) by mobbing him like he'd scored an overtime winner.

This touching moment almost didn't happen. As the puck drifted towards the goal line, Henrik Sedin quit skating and stuck his arms out, so as to prevent anybody from spoiling the moment. In that instant, any number of shocking things could have gone awry. Below, PITB has imagined three very plausible scenarios, with adorable artist's renderings by the fabulously talented Chloe Ezra.

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SCENARIO 1
Henrik skates like wildfire, catching up to the puck eight inches from the goal line. He changes its trajectory by one degree, earning credit for the goal. Then, before a stunned arena, he tears the C off his jersey, flashes the double guns Shane O'Brien style, and skates off, chanting "Henrik! Henrik!"

Artist's Rendering

Monday, April 04, 2011

Quotes Taken Out of Context: Staios Edition

"If Ethan’s mom was coming back from injury, I think he’d take a run at her."

Cory Schneider Needs to Play Two More Games


The William M. Jennings Trophy is awarded annually to the goalies for the team that allows the fewest goals against. The Vancouver Canucks have allowed 181 goals this season, three fewer than the Boston Bruins, who have four games remaining to the Canucks three. If the Canucks can avoid ugly performances like Saturday's flop, there's a good chance that the Canucks goalies will take home the prize.

Or rather, Roberto Luongo will take home the prize.

Leave Cody Hodgson Alone

Cody Hodgson's not a bust! He's a human being!

The injury to Manny Malhotra has left the Canucks' third line in a state of disarray. It's a substantial hole, and the Canucks have struggled to fill it, promoting fourth-line centers such as Maxim Lapierre and Alex Bolduc, as well as converting wingers such as Jannik Hansen and Mason Raymond. All of these experiments have been met with mixed success. The answer, it seems, is evasive.

Tony Gallagher believes it's in the AHL. If the need is a natural center with some offensive talent, Gallagher (and many others) want to know why the Canucks haven't called up Cody Hodgson. Here's why: another Cody Hodgson recall won't help anybody. Not the Canucks, not Hodgson.

Right now, the best thing for everyone would be to leave Cody Hodgson alone.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Can You Name the Entire 2010-11 Canucks Roster?

Be warned: this cat took the quiz, and now he struggles with confidence.

The Canucks dressed a lot of different guys this season. There were injuries on the backend that necessitated absurd callups. There was a season-long search for the right fit on the fourth line. There was cap trouble. Whatever the reason, 39 guys wore the orca in 2010-11, and PITB has created a Sporcle quiz that will test your ability to remember them all. You might be shocked to discover how quickly you forget.

Seriously. I made the quiz, took it five minutes later, and only got 36 of 39. Am I the biggest idiot ever? Maybe. Or maybe it's just more difficult than it sounds. Click the link below to see for yourself, and don't forget to come back here and let us know how you did.


Two helpful hints: the roster is alphabetical, and you only have to enter last names.

I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Oilers, April 2, 2011

Canucks 1 - 4 Oilers


Last night was a bewildering stinker, the likes of which we haven't seen in months, and it makes sense. While the Canucks didn't throw in the towel, there was literally no motivation for them to play hard last night, apart from the fact that it was the right thing to do. The game meant nothing to them. Meanwhile, the Oilers were motivated. For them, a Hockey Night in Canada tilt against the best team in hockey (and a team they thoroughly despise), is reason enough to go all out. They did, too: the Oilers played a fabulous game, and unfortunately for Vancouver, this admirable effort coincided with the Canucks laying down a complete turd. I watched this turd game:

  • How can you tell the Canucks were woefully out of sync tonight? The Sedins went offside once. Think about the last time you saw that happen. It's nigh impossible for the twins to go offside. Watch their Superskills puck relay. They're the same person.
  • It's probably safe to say that Yann Sauve won't see any playoff games. He was bad last night. Two of the Oilers' four goals were directly the fault of his poor positioning. On the Omark goal, Sauve (#47) drifts into no-man's land, turned completely the wrong way. When the puck is centered, he's so far out of position that he trips over Cory Schneider, taking them both out of the play. On the Paajarvi goal, that's Sauve in the corner, losing his religion.
  • I wish I could counsel you to take this loss lightly, but I'm afraid I have some bad news: if you lose to the worst team in hockey, you become the worst team in hockey. It's like a zombie bite.
  • Tanner Glass took a few hard punches for his efforts, but give him credit for trying--in his first game back from injury--to kickstart the team by dropping the gloves with JF Jacques. Considering he missed a handful of games with a rib problem that made it painful to shoot or pass the puck, I suspect that he also felt some pain trying to throw a fist with full force. No surprise, then, that he did not win this fight, and he probably lost another one when he went home and his fiancĂ© Emily reminded him he promised he wouldn't fight tonight.
  • With Andrew Alberts nearing full health, Aaron Rome is one Canuck who still has something to play for. He's played in 53 games this season, averaging 17:27, and you've got to imagine it would be hell to be scratched through the playoffs after getting used to that kind of playing time. Rome showcased his Alberts-like hittiness all night, throwing some big hits, including this hipcheck on JF Jacques, and this glorious hipcheck on Ladislav Smid at the end the first period. My favourite part of the latter clip is when he's skating to the bench, and he says something to an Edmonton player. I can't tell what it is; I've never been much for lipreading. My best guess is something about fondue.
  • Jeff Tambellini had a team-low 11:20, which is mighty impressive, considering he started the game on the second line. Tambellini was not good. He had three shots, all right into the logo, and the play died on his stick more than a few times. I remember one particular instance where Kesler got him the puck behind the net, and he weakly centered it to nobody. It may as well have been an Edmonton outlet pass. Think his dad was impressed? If Tambellini signs with the Oilers next season as a defensemen, we'll know why.
  • What's your take on Cory Schneider tonight? I thought he wasn't at his best. He made a bunch of really incredible saves, but a few of the goals seemed to be easier stops, and he let them by. Jordan Eberle's goal, for instance, was a classic case of losing the post, and on the Magnus Paajarvi goal, he wasn't square to the shooter. I know what's going on here, though: Schneider's pissed that he won't get enough games to have a share in the Jennings trophy, so he's trying to throw the trophy altogether. Cory Schneider is the mother in 1 Kings Chapter 3 who would rather cut the child in half.
  • Nobody played particularly well last night, but I thought Jannik Hansen played particularly poorly. The third line lost possession a handful of times because Hansen was getting muscled off the puck and he wasn't winning puck battles. He finished with under twelve minutes of icetime, second lowest to Jeff Tambellini. Here's a helpful maxim: when Jannik Hansen is being punished for a poor effort, the team is probably having a bad night. Here it is in rhyme form: Bad game for Jannik? Good time to panic.
  • I don't mind Mason Raymond at center. Raymond seems to be relishing the extra space, and the line is generating scoring chances. Most importantly, I haven't seen a MayRay-Go-Round since he was taken off the wing. It's hard to go around the net when you come through the middle. Raymond also won 4 of 7 faceoffs, including 3 of 4 in the offensive zone. This is especially noteworthy because CBC showed footage of Raymond and Glass working on their faceoff technique, and Raymond was getting absolutely smoked. At the time, I thought, if you can't beat Tanner Glass even once, you probably shouldn't be taking faceoffs at all.
  • Henrik Sedin was actually the best faceoff man on the night, winning 11 of 16 draws.
  • Speaking of Henrik, I couldn't help but chuckle on Alex Burrows' goal. After Henrik and Burrows break out 2-on-1, three Oilers scramble to catch up to the play. Two of them make it and, joining the last man back, all three simply surround Henrik Sedin. Burrows really has no choice but to shoot. If he had tried to pass it, Henrik would have been dogpiled. He probably would have disappeared into a cartoonish fight cloud.
  • Christian Ehrhoff played over twenty-five minutes last night. Is that necessary? Granted, he's the Canucks best offensive defenseman and having him on the ice is the best way to mount a comeback, but Ehrhoff's logged a lot of time this season. In a mean-nothing game, three games before the playoffs, I'd rather his minutes are limited than see him play 10:03 of the third period trying to get Vancouver back into it. Ehrhoff needs rest, or he'll never beat JFK in a drag race.
  • The Oilers played exceptionally physical last night, especially on the Sedins. Each time Daniel or Henrik had the puck behind the net, the Oiler defenders began a rigorous cross-checking regimen designed to turn their spines to pudding.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

The Presidents' Trophy Matters (For, Like, One More Week)

Stop clapping, damn it! Aside from the thing they won, they haven't won anything!

By now, you've probably heard the news that the Canucks have won the Presidents' Trophy. You've probably also heard some of the subsequent chatter surrounding the merit of the accomplishment. You may have heard, for instance, that this trophy doesn't matter, that only playoff success matters. That is patently false, and you likely heard it from fools.

Friday, April 01, 2011

What Are Your Top Five Moments of Wizardous Sedinerie?

Image from Blue Soup.

In just under two weeks, PITB will be counting down our top 5 moments of Wizardous Sedinerie from the 2010-11 season, just as we did last year. Solemn guarantee: it's gonna be a sweet list. While there isn't a de facto number one this year, that doesn't mean the Sedins have been scoring boring. They've done some mind-blowing stuff this year.

I've managed to pare their ever-expanding highlight reel down to 12 wizardous plays, all of which are embedded after the jump. I'm angling for a top five, and I could use some reader input. If you've got the time (and I know you do, slacker), watch the clips. When you feel you've given each play a fair viewing, give me your five favourites, either in the comments, via tweet, using the hashtag #sedintop5. In two weeks, we'll unveil the official list.

Be warned, however: five minutes watching their highlights and you'll lose the ability to find joy in the simple play. The next time someone dumps the puck in instead of cutting across the blue line and making a drop pass to his identical twin, you'll scream at the television. You'll see an open guy, and wonder why his teammate didn't make the simple no-look, backhand saucer bank pass off the boards his defender was giving him. You'll see your guy getting crosschecked in the back and you'll wonder why he isn't calling for the puck. The Sedins are hockey ecstasy. The Sedins will ruin you.

I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Kings, March 31, 2011

Canucks 3 - 1 Kings


Make no mistake: the Presidents' Trophy is a pretty huge deal. Ignore anyone who dismisses it. It matters. Canucks fans have conditioned themselves to say it doesn't--that only playoff success matters--but, if we're being honest with ourselves, that's only because we've never even been close to this accomplishment. We've steeled ourselves against the Presidents' Trophy and, heck, the value of regular season dominance, too, because it's never been within our purview. Now that it is? It feels pretty good. It feels momentous. Is it momentous? I'd say it's momentous. In last night's game, the Canucks won the Presidents' Trophy. I watched this [momentous] game:

  • Henrik "Captain Hook" Sedin took two minor penalties in the first period, but they were obviously on purpose. Here's what I think happened: He asked Alain Vigneault for the night off and was denied, so he decided to take the first period off instead. What a diva.
  • Daniel Sedin's game-tying goal in the second period came on a pretty drag move and an even prettier wrist shot. That drag move is classic Daniel. He's been pulling it all season, recently scoring a memorable powerplay goal with it versus Minnesota. Until last night, however, he hadn't seen any success with it during odd-man rushes. He couldn't have picked a better time to finally pull it off. Justin Bourne tweeted that Daniel Sedin won the Hart with this goal, but I'd caution him against reading too much into the "MVP!" chant started by the fans. That was clearly meant for Victor Oreskvich.
  • Okay, maybe not. But we said last game that Victor Oreskovich may have earned a permanent roster spot. If it wasn't true then, it probably true now. Besides the assist, Oreskovich also had three hits, a blocked shot, and the takeaway that started the two-on-one. That came when he picked off off a telegraphed pass by Drew "Jon Kitna" Doughty, and muscled the puck outside blue line before deferring to Daniel. Probably a wise choice, deferring to Daniel. Had Oreskovich kept the puck, he'd probably be getting death threats today. From Daniel.
  • The Canucks scored their first five-on-three goal of the season last night, which is almost as big a deal as capturing the Presidents' Trophy. That said, the team seemed more motivated to get Daniel his 100th point simply to score a goal. How can you tell? Daniel was taking slapshots. The unit kept swinging it around for him, and he kept firing it. You'll notice there's only four Canucks in the celebratory hug, too. After Daniel garners the first assist on Kesler's goal, Alex Burrows immediately turns to retrieve the puck for his linemate
  • Christian Ehrhoff had a game-high eight shots tonight. One of them went in, too. Ehrhoff capped off an odd-man rush by scoring with .9 seconds to go in the second period. Los Angeles would not register a shot on net in the third, making Ehrhoff's goal the most devastating backbreaker since Bane on Batman.
  • You heard that right. Down a goal, the Kings couldn't muster a single shot in the final period. Granted, without Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, their forward corps are about as threatening as Veggie Tales, but give the Canucks credit. This comes on the heels of holding the Nashville Predators to only two shots in Tuesday's third period. I don't think we hear enough about the Canucks' league-best defensive play. They've allowed one goal in five straight games, and a few were just snack goals.
  • The reffing tonight was pretty questionable, at times, most notably when Johnny Quick upended Alex Burrows on a scoring chance in front and got away with it. Not since Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas have I seen such blatant tripping.
  • That said, the refs did make the right call when Kyle Clifford ran Chris Tanev dangerously into the end boards. The last time the Canucks played the Kings, we saw Alex Ponikarovsky hit Dan Hamhuis similarly, and referee Chris Lee only called a minor penalty. Then, the other night, Alex Burrows hit Vernon Fiddler similarly, and he took a major, which drew complaints, again, about Chris Lee's call in Los Angeles. Chris Lee was the referee tonight as well; he reallly had no choice but to make a stiffer call this time around. Let's be clear, though: Chris Tanev nearly got himself killed. Clifford and Tanev are coming in at full speed, and Tanev's body and skates are turned to the left. At the last second, Tanev turns his skates to the right, but fails to get his body fully turned before Clifford hits him. It's a split-second accident. Clifford meant to hit Tanev hard, but he didn't mean to hit him like that.
  • There were two guys sitting directly behind Alain Vigneault in full drag, apparently going by the names "Daniella" and "Henrietta", and wearing bright pink t-shirts that said Hockey Luvin Homo. I wondered if this offended anyone. It offended me: Luvin needs an apostrophe, at least. Anyway, I'm fairly confident they were the Wayans brothers.
  • I didn't mind Mason Raymond at center. He looked a little confused at times, but he performed decently in the faceoff circle (3-for-5), and Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen looked energized and dangerous for the first time since Manny Malhotra went down. It would appear being Maxim Lapierre's wingers is about as disheartening as being Chris Brown's publicist.
  • Speaking of Raffi Torres, he registered 3 hits in the game, narrowly missing his apparent goal of 100. Torres played like a man possessed, likely by one to three of Casper's brothers. Be it an opponent, the referee, or even just a patch of wide open space, he was hitting everything. He was like a human mallet in a lifesize game of Whack-a-Mole.
  • And finally, I realize, now, that playing the theme for the West Wing, postgame, was a nice hat-tip to winning the Presidents' Trophy, but the music was just a tad too inspirational for my tastes. You'd have though the whole team finally arrived at the Great Valley. Everyone: Tina Turner released "Simply the Best" for a reason.
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