Monday, February 28, 2011

Eyewitness Report: Canucks Superskills Competition

The annual Canucks Superskills event is a treat for Canucks fans, especially for fans who can't afford the price of admission to a regular game. The cheaper ticket price, combined with the fun atmosphere and events on the concourse, make it a great chance for parents to give their kids a closer look at their hockey heroes. It also manages to make me feel like a kid again, as I attended my second Superskills event last night. As an added bonus, all proceeds go to the Canucks For Kids Fund.

HNIC Revisits the Tanner Glass Scrabble Challenge

I'm sure you're getting a little tired of Canucks Scrabble coverage, but we've had requests for the Subway bio clip featuring Tanner Glass. With that, (and thanks again to the remarkably generous CanucksHD), here's last Saturday's Hockey Night Subway bio, featuring Tanner Glass, PITB, and a brief return to the Canucks' Scrabble challenge. As you can see, HNIC smartly avoided any photos that would feature yours truly, instead opting for candid shots of the extremely photogenic Tanner Glass. I'd have done the same. Wise choice, CBC.

Scott Oake seems confused as to who won, but he's got a decent line on DOUGHIER: I think that's what happens to goaltenders after they quit playing. Likely a shot at Kelly Hrudey, like every other joke he makes. Funny stuff, although I prefer Daniel's line: As in, Harrison is doughier than Tanner Glass. It's funny 'cause it's true.

A Moment of Pure Bulis

It's a stressful time right now. The NHL trade deadline is under five hours away. Fans and players alike want to know that Mike Gillis will do. Who's on the way in? Who's on the way out? Will we get better? Will we lose ground? Will they trade for a top-six winger? Will they trade Mason Raymond? What will happen to Mason Raymond? Has anyone asked Mason Raymond what he wants?

Is this you? Relax, Mason Raymond.

Sometimes the fever pitch reaches a critical point. When that happens, we at PITB recommend that you take a step back, focus on your breathing, and enjoy a much-needed Moment of Pure Bulis.

Did you know? Alex Edler thinks I Am Legend was good, but the ending could have been better.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Bruins, February 26, 2011

Canucks 1 - 3 Bruins

Last night's tough loss to the Boston Bruins keeps the Canucks mired in their pattern of alternating wins and losses, a pattern that's now persisted for 10 games. That said, you have to think last night's loss was different--that is was the toughest of the most recent five. Tied at one going into the third period, and poised to do what they do best, which is take over in the third period, the Canucks were instead shocked by a Bruins team that collapsed back in a tie game to block shots and clog up passing lanes. Then, they capitalized on a missed call and a missed defensive assignment to score the game-winner, and wound up skating away from the final frame with two goals on four shots. It had to be sort of infuriating--sort of really infuriating--and I should know, because I felt a similar fury as I watched this game:

  • The Boston Bruins continued the trend of Eastern Conference teams getting past the Canucks by blocking every possible shot. Boston blocked 23 shots (Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid having 10 between them). The Canadiens and the Rangers utilized this same game plan to success, and it would appear that teams have a book on the Canucks. Before you start to panic, however, realize that it's no foolproof plan and it can only be exacted if you're not trailing. Had the Canucks been able to hold a lead against these three clubs, things would have opened up. That said, we are beginning to see how teams adjust and meticulously prepare for the best team in the NHL. The Canucks rely on a lot of down-low passing, so if you collapse around the net, you can cover them and get in passing lanes while remaining in position to block point shots. Unsurprisingly, ten of Vancouver's blocked attempts came off the sticks of their top four defensemen.
  • One way to combat a goal crease collapse is to send a big forward into the opponents' defensive box to wreak havoc. However, among the top six forwards, only Ryan Kesler has the size for this, especially when Zdeno Chara can so ably move a smaller body elsewhere. Worse, as the center, Kesler is supposed to be the first forward back, so he really can't afford to get caught down low (at even strength, anyway). Tanner Glass's promotion to the second line was Vigneault's attempt to combat the net presence deficiency in his top six.
  • It was also an attempt to get through to Mason Raymond, for whom the problems continue to compound. He's typically a reliable defensive player, even during scoring slumps, but even that aspect of his game is beginning to drift away. In the last few games, we've seen plays die on his stick, then come back the other way without him, and end up in the net. Raymond again played a subpar offensive game last night, but he earned a third period demotion to the fourth line with some brutal defensive coverage on Nathan Horton's second period goal. Not only does he let Horton get position in front, Raymond takes his stick out of the play and winds up left with no other recourse but a series of ineffective nudges. If his stick's on the ice, maybe he jams Horton up or knocks the puck away. Instead, one of the spindliest Canucks tosses his stick over his back like a hobo's bindle and tries to outmuscle a power forward. Unwise. Raymond may not have earned himself a trade out of town last night but, at the very least, he's earned himself a couple restless nights before the deadline.
  • In the past, PITB had an oft-used No Third Line For Glass hashtag, which we used whenever Tanner Glass got top nine icetime. We've since semi-retired this hashtag (because we love Tanner Glass now), although AV appears to have finally listened, as he bypassed the third line entirely and bumped Tanner to the second. Okay, in truth, this had more to do with keeping the third line intact. They've combined for 7 goals in the last 7 games, including this game's lone Canuck tally. That one came off the stick of Manny "Alternate Captain Mal" Malhotra, who becomes the first Canuck to beat Tim Thomas. Thomas can take solace, however, in knowing that no caucasian Canuck has ever beaten him. Try to remember that, Canucks. Next time the Bruins come to town, we should dress Darren Archibald to take advantage of Thomas's susceptibility to shots by ethnic minorities.
  • Brad Marchand's got a real Inspector Gadget look to him, doesn't he? With the long face and nose, I half-expected him to skate on a line with Penny and Brain. He's a bit of a bumbler, too. Twice last night he activated Go-Go-Gadget-Take-Stupid-Penalty.
  • Rough night for Sami Salo, who was on the ice for all three Boston goals. Silver lining: that means he stayed healthy for the whole game. Offensively, I enjoyed his eagerness to blast the puck whenever possible. It's nice to have that weapon back. Salo had a game-high 5 shots, and although two were blocked, none missed the net. Can you believe this guy's one half of our bottom pairing?
  • People will claim that the Canucks were outmuscled, but that's not actually true. The Canucks outhit Boston 32 to 22, led by 4 hits by Jannik Hansen, 6 by Tanner Glass, and a whopping seven by Raffi Torres, including this fabulous one on Tomas Kaberle, which might have been Raffi's best hit of the season. Human bowling ball indeed.
  • Milan Lucic was the star of the evening, scoring the game-winner and notching a helper on Boston's other two goals. That said, can we please put the shoulda drafted Lucic talk to rest? It would have been nice to have a Vancouver-born player in a Canucks uniform, but this isn't another Cam Neely fiasco. He was never going to be a Canuck. He was drafted 50th overall, and scouts at the time thought even that was early. Even if the Canucks hadn't traded away their second-rounder, they likely wouldn't have used it on him. It seems foolish now, but I'm a little sick of people forgetting how hindsight works.
  • Ryan Kesler's in a bit of a scoring slump, and I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner. Who else do you have to worry about when he's on the ice?
  • Speaking of Kesler, he took 25 faceoffs last night. The rest of the team, combined, took 29. It was like he and Vigneault were playing a game of Uno, and Vigneault was out to get him. Draw four, Kes. Ha ha, draw four again.
  • I liked Alex Burrows' battle with Milan Lucic. During one faceoff in particular, Lucic simply encroached on Burr's space and made himself unmovable, but what Burr lacks in brute strength, he makes up for in obnoxiousness, so he just chopped Lucic's stick out of his hands and skated away. Good on you, Burr, you greasy little snot.
  • The Canucks' power play looked disorganized and tentative, and it may have cost the the game. Tentative is good for road trip itineraries; it's bad for special teams.
  • And finally, Cody Hodgson had a strong game, likely motivated by this being the last of his three-game tryout (of sorts), but he needs to get his shot off a little quicker. His patience is impressive, sure, but more impressive if when one's shot reaches the goaltender. Cody had 1 shot on goal, but he had three more blocked because he held onto it too long. I have a feeling the knock on Hodgson will always be a lack of urgency, but unlike the Sedins, he doesn't have an Art Ross trophy to fall back on when people claim he's not quick enough to fire. He should spend a weekend with Donald Trump.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ryan Kesler on After Hours, Scott Oake Loves PITB

Here's Ryan "Astro Boy" Kesler on After Hours. As usual, the segment's a must-watch, and you have to admire Scott Oake's skill as an interviewer to make it so. Kesler's not an easy interview. He's a surly guy that punches questions, and ends sentences abruptly. There's simply no avoiding dead air when he's the guest.

This one also features the best PITB mention yet (and the second time on the evening someone on the HNIC crew said my name; it was Harrison Night in Canada). At 17:55, Oake asks Kesler another @passittobulis question, marking the third time we've gotten a tweet on the show (first, second). The question in question? Ask Kesler if it's just a coincidence that his son was born exactly 9 months (to the day) after he signed his big contract extension. Regular Bulies might know that we stumbled across this suspicious synchronization of dates while putting together the 2010 in review year-end retrospective.

Kesler is so caught off guard by this question that he a) cracks a disbelieving smile, then b) is briefly rendered speechless, then c) proceeds drop a swearbomb live on the air. He explains how it was during the postseason and he caught crap from AV about sex in the playoffs. Except he doesn't say crap, no sir, he certainly does not. Move over, George Stromboulopoulos, Ryan Kesler's the new badass in town.

This video is also worth watching for Kevin Weekes' blue velvet blazer. Do you like blue velvet? Well, tough, because Kevin Weekes does. And so does David Lynch.

The Pros and Cons of Mike Gillis's Trade Deadline Options

If Gillis's first name was Jack, and he made all the best trades, the headline could be, "Jack of All Trades."

The Vancouver Canucks have been one of the NHL's best teams for most of the season and, barring a major collapse, will go into the playoffs as a Stanley Cup frontrunner. They've never been better constructed or positioned to win. With that in mind, as the NHL trade deadline nears, general manager Mike Gillis faces tremendous pressure to do everything he can to fix any possible areas of weakness within his team.

But everything is questionable. Any move he makes or doesn't make comes with risks, and no matter what he does (even if he does nothing, maybe even especially if he does nothing), he will be immediately questioned and criticized. Let's examine his three choices and weigh the pros and cons for each:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Canucks TV: Canucks Scrabble Battle

Raffi Torres, Human Bowling Ball: Photoshop Gallery 2

Welcome once again to the Raffi Torres BallTor photoshop gallery. If you're new to this, I recommend starting either with the original photo, or with the first photoshop gallery, posted yesterday. Otherwise, let's just dive headfirst into the awesome:

I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Blues, February 24, 2011

Canucks 3 - 2 Blues

I feel like we've been spouting this statistic a lot lately, but the Canucks still haven't lost two consecutive regulation games since November. I used to be impressed; now I'm just annoyed. I mean, they keep alternating wins and losses, forcing me to point to this statistic every second game. No more, friends. Here's a new stat: the Canucks haven't won two consecutive games in regulation since the beginning of this month. In short, the Canucks are probably sellers.

Okay, maybe not, especially not after a victory (he said, sounding a lot like a shortsighted NHL GM). I'm not a fan of the alternating wins and losses, but I'm a fan of the wins, and I quite enjoyed the effort the team put forth in order to get one last night. The Canucks had another solid response game, bouncing back from the loss to the Montreal Canadiens with a complete team effort versus the St. Louis Blues. Every line was effective, Cory Schneider played great in net, and the Canucks fended off a team in dire need of points to collect two of their own. Additionally (and most importantly), I watched this game:

  • The Canucks' third line has been excellent since being reunited the last time the Canucks played the Blues on February 14. How appropriate that their chemistry would be rekindled on Valentine's Day (for inappropriate ways to build chemistry, see the Lonely Island). The third line has 11 points, combined, in their last six games, and has contributed 6 goals. For the slow-witted: that's a goal a game. If you can count on your third line for a goal each game, you'll probably do all right.
  • I was impressed that John Garrett's Hockey Know How segment (often a strange segment in which Garrett seems oddly unacquainted with the clip he himself has selected), managed to actually inform me for once. He went over the game-winning goal (above), pointing out the way Torres's hit on Colaiacovo not only freed up the puck, but took his man away from the net and out of the play. In fact, Torres didn't even really hit him--he just moved him. There was more, though. Hansen picked up an assist on the goal in the only way he knows how: with a pokecheck. Gosh, Hansen loves to poke. If he ever commits a serious crime, we need to make sure the judge doesn't order him to do trash pickup for community service. He'd have way too much fun.
  • Manny Malhotra scored the game-winner, which was a major windfall for him and his line, but I don't like the way people are talking as though he's finally contributing. Malhotra took 2 faceoffs in the offensive zone and 12 in the defensive zone. Vigneault doesn't put him on the ice to score.
  • Raffi Torres had a game-high 5 hits, a couple impressive backchecks (2 takeaways), and zero baffling passes to nowhere. Kudos.
  • I watched tonight's game with Cam Davie of Canucks Army, who is a quality dude. Just wanted to throw that out there.
  • You want to talk Wizardous Sedinerie? How about Mikael Samuelsson's goal, which comes by way of some remarkable cycling by the Sedins in the corner. Seriously, they make the St. Louis defensemen look like the Washington Generals. The Sedins cycled so spectacularly nobody even noticed they were on motorcycles the whole time. And make no mistake: Tanev may have been sneaking in the backdoor, but that pass really was meant for Samuelsson. Only Henrik Sedin thinks of passing into someone's gut, but that's what he did.
  • You might not have noticed, but Aaron Rome finished the game with less icetime than Keith Ballard. To quote Werner Herzog in Encounters at the End of the World, "Is this a great moment?" Yes it is. Ballard simply brings more to the table than Rome, and it appears that he's finally earning his coach's trust. Of course, Rome's reduced icetime might have to do with his play on the David Backes goal. Word of warning to amateur hockey players: never lazily sweep the puck to David Backes in the high slot. That's like giving a baby a loaded handgun. Worse, a baby with a history of assault with a firearm, like Maggie Simpson.
  • Another reason for a reduction in Rome's icetime might have been the pairings: after Vigneault built himself a top four of Hamhuis with Ehrhoff and Ballard with Salo, Rome defaulted to the bottom pairing with low-minute man Chris Tanev. It definitely didn't take Hammy long to return to form. He played a game-high 23:53, finishing with four shots, two hits, and two blocks. He also acted as a steadying presence for Ehrhoff, from whom we've seen some jittery play lately. Meanwhile, Ballard and Salo were paired together, which made a lot of sense. Once everyone's healthy, this is likely the bottom pairing for the Canucks, so it's wise of Alain Vigneault to put them together right away.
  • It was great to see Sami Salo score, too, especially in the vintage way they he did it. Nobody is better at shading in from the point for that exact one-timer, and it's nice to see this weapon return. Salo's shot remains a laser. Heck, it's not just any laser, either; it's a moonraker. Short of the golden gun, Sami Salo's shot is the best weapon in Goldeneye 64.
  • Tanner Glass only played five minutes in this game, but he was granted third star honours for his play in that time, as he finished a goal short of the Gordie Howe hat trick. He did, however, pick up a Tanner Glass hat-trick, which is a goal, an assist, and bevy of Scrabble jokes from the broadcast team (the best one courtesy of Dan Murphy, postgame). His pass to Salo showed some great vision, and his fight with BJ Crombeen gave the Canucks some life early in the first period. That fight, by the way, came after Crombeen claimed, just prior to the faceoff, that MENSWEAR was two words.
  • The Canucks did a great job of keeping Alex Steen, somehow the Blues' Canuck-killer, off the scoresheet. He finished a minus-1 and had 4 of his shots blocked, more than any other player. Think Vigneault talked to his guys about this? I do. Mind you, the Canucks were blocking shots all over the place. They blocked 17 shots overall, including 11 from their defense alone, and 7 from the Ballard/Salo pairing. It worries me to think of Sami Salo blocking a lot of shots, but now that his bones are mush, how much damage can it really do?
  • Welcome Damien Cox to Sportsnet, everyone. and stop throwing things at your televisions, that's what he wants. And you, get down from there. Don't you dare kick that chair out from underneath you.
  • Rough second period for the Canucks, but that'll happen. Look no further than the Blues' first period. I could have sworn the Blues got a defenseman back when they traded Erik Johnson, but it looked to me like one of their defense pairings was missing a guy for the first twenty minutes. Did anyone notice that the Blues gave up 17 shots and about seventy-six odd-man rushes?
  • And finally, Mason Raymond played a very good game. No goals and he missed some chances, but he generated more, and had six shots on net. I haven't been happy with his play of late (and I suspect, neither has he), but I hope he stays with the team through the deadline. If he can continue to play like he did tonight, it wouldn't be worth the jolt to team chemistry to bring someone else in.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Raffi Torres, Human Bowling Ball: Photoshop Gallery 1

You might recall the Raffi Torres bowling ball image (BallTor) from the minor photoshop party we tried to jumpstart last week. It comes from this goal, Raffi's second of the night in a 5-2 win over the Dallas Stars. The goal led to this photo, which is wonderful for many, many reasons, chief amongst them the fact that Raffi, often referred to as a human bowling ball, couldn't have looked more like one if he'd worn all black and let someone put fingers in his eyes and mouth.

Anyhow, the meme has begun to take off, and PITB's gifted scores of doctored Raffi Torres photos in the last few days. We've seen a byfuglienian buttload of good ones at this point, and it's high time we shared some with you. Behold, gallery 1:

I Watched This [Scrabble] Game: Team Mooney vs. Team Glass, February 23, 2011

What an incredible experience. Our thanks goes out to Tanner Glass, Derek Jory, Canuck Place, Hasbro Canada, Annie May, and the Canucks organization for helping to make this all happen. Harrison and I are amazed at how our silly little Scrabble challenge turned into an opportunity to raise an estimated $8000 for Canuck Place. We are humbled by the outpouring of support for this little event: thank you.

We got to Canuck Place a little early and met up with our videographer/photographer, Roderick, who agreed to help us out last minute. Roderick was amazing and we're looking forward to sharing the video we're putting together with him. Keep an eye on, however, for the official video of the event. Jeff Vinnick was also on hand and took some amazing photos, while Ed Willes provided comments from the peanut gallery and an excellent article for the Province. I moved into the corner and set up Live Blog Central, which hovered around 200 followers from beginning to end, and had just over 800 readers in total.

In the end, Harrison was victorious, though Tanner and his crew of awesome kids mounted an incredible comeback: the Highlight of the Night was definitely "menswear," though the TSN Turning Point was Harrison's Bingo with "doughier," using two blanks and a triple word score. But I didn't watch the highlights. I watched this game.

  • Tanner Glass is a large dude. I understand he's 6'1", 210 lbs, but when you see him on TV on the ice with other players of similar size it doesn't have the same impact. When he walks into a room that has tables meant to be used by children, however, he is massive. It's a good thing it wasn't Scrabble Boxing, or Harrison would have been in real trouble.
  • In all seriousness, Tanner was very friendly, even though it was clear he didn't know what to expect from us. I have to give him a lot of credit for accepting the challenge and putting himself out there to benefit the kids at Canuck Place. I suspect he's getting a fair amount of razzing from his teammates and, possibly, opponents. I wonder if that's part of the smack talk on the ice now when someone challenges him: are you sure you want to get in a fight? I might make you forget all the Q without U words.
  • Tanner was asked about his educational background helping him out in Scrabble, and he quipped "There's no Scrabble course at Dartmouth. It's no Harvard, that's for sure." Classic.
  • Meanwhile, a young lady surreptitiously stood behind Tanner for most of the game with her cell phone out, tweeting Tanner's tiles as @VanCanucks and getting advice from those following the game. The biggest celebrity guest star on the night was @BrentButt, who suggested "inuit." Unfortunately, "inuit" is a proper noun and is ineligible in Scrabble. Instead, Tanner played "dint" for 25 points, completing three other words in the process. I think Tanner could beat Brent Butt at Scrabble. Just saying.
  • Some have pointed out that Harrison got some incredible luck with the tiles he drew, getting high-powered letters like X, Q, Z, and J as well as both blanks. It's important to realize, however, that he made the high-risk move to trade in his tiles early on, keeping only the J. It was in that round that he drew both blanks that led to his bingo with "doughier" as well as the Z. It was a calculated risk that paid off.
  • Aaron Rome is labelled in the pre-game video as the "Forgotten Scrabbler." He and I should get together and play a game. We forgotten Scrabblers need to stick together.
  • True to Aaron Rome's prediction, Tanner played a grinding game, clawing his way back with three and four-letter words and playing a strong defensive game by locking down the triple-word scores as soon as they opened up. He also used some good teamwork by getting advice from the kids, including his best play of the game with "menswear." Jaxson was the brain behind that play and he was beaming. His play in the Scrabble game illustrates why Glass has made himself a staple on the Canucks fourth line: he keeps it simple, plays hard, and is a good teammate.
  • Jannik Hansen's smack talk in the pre-game tips video is absolutely hilarious. He claims that Tanner is the third or fourth best Scrabbler on the team and that the North Americans do their best to avoid being beaten by the Europeans, for whom english is a second language. It's clear that Hansen isn't just a dogged competitor on the ice. I wonder if he's ever been able to spell pokecheck in a game?
  • My favorite moment in that video, however, comes when Burrows sees the Scrabble Champ t-shirt and Tanner walks behind him, commenting "sick, eh?" then continues on. Major props to Annie May for the design and I love the fact that Tanner is a big fan of the shirts.
  • Speaking of the t-shirts, they sold so quickly that Tanner wasn't even able to get one in the right size for his fiancée, Emily. She wore it anyways, supporting Glass the whole way. Harrison and I stopped by the Canucks Team Store after the Scrabble Battle and picked up a couple shirts for family members; there were only 2 shirts remaining after we left. We're hopeful that they will decide to do another run of the shirts in the future; they might be encouraged to do so if people who wanted shirts sent a friendly note to them...
  • Thanks to everyone who joined in on the live blog. Some of the jokes and comments were shared with Tanner and Harrison. "Booing the refs" got big laughs and a few groans from everyone, and "We all know a 55-point lead is the most dangerous lead in Scrabble" got a good reaction as well. Kudos to deb and Ione for the wisecracks. I also appreciated Barbara Aucoin dropping by to suggest that I should play her son at Scrabble. Since Adrian Aucoin has clearly retired from the NHL and definitely doesn't play hockey any more, I suspect he spends most of his free time Scrabbling. I'm really not sure if I'm good enough at Scrabble to take him on.
  • Final score of the game was 344 - 313 for Harrison. According to the Scrabble website, an average tournament score is 330 - 450 points per game, so an impressive showing for both Mooney and Glass, neither of whom are Scrabble experts (Andy Sutton really wanted to know). Harrison, of course, talks a big game and he definitely is good at Scrabble, but he's not the "Scrabble pro" that he was played up to be. Tanner, on the other hand, was better than we expected as he had downplayed his skill prior to the game. Admittedly, he got a little help from the Canuck Place kids, but he played a solid game. You can see the final board at
  • Finally, the presence of an actual trophy and the phenomenal success in raising money for Canucks Place has whet our appetites to do this again. My hope is that we can get more people involved and have a Celebrity Scrabble Tournament next year, involving Canuck players, other local celebrities, and members of the community. Obviously, this is just an idea at this point, but only a few months ago, playing Tanner Glass at Scrabble was also just an idea.

Quick Hits (From Behind): Scrabble Edition

Quick Hits (From Behind) is an irregular feature on Pass it To Bulis, wherein two hockey fans chip in their thoughts on current hockey news and get assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct.

With the inaugural Scrabble Battle now in the books, and the surreal fog of yesterday's visit to Canuck Place now worn off (aided by the fact I overslept for work this morning), it seems the only thing left to do is file and alphabetize the memories.

PITB will have a full write-up with photos and video with all our thoughts and observations on the event sometime next week (and Skeeter is furiously preparing an IWTG) but, for now, we'll leave things in the hands of the capable writers at the Vancouver Province, Vancouver Sun, and After the jump, a special Scrabble edition of the Quick Hits (From Behind):

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

From the What If Files: Vigneault Injected With Truth Serum

You, Brad Ziemer. You're the one I hate. I hate you.

Alain Vigneault is a coach who really knows how to use the media, not to garner attention, like Ron Wilson, but to make his team better. Some of us even go so far as to point out when he does it. Still, while Vigneault is at his most effective while using the media to his own advantage, it's hard to deny he's funniest when he loses his composure a little bit. Wouldn't it be great if, just once, he were biochemically forced to tel us all what he really thought? Consider the following scenario:

VANCOUVER -- Police are looking for a suspect who may have administered sodium amytal, a so-called "truth serum," to Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault Tuesday night before a media scrum.

The Canucks coach was tested for drugs after making several "overly appropriate" comments to the media following a 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

"[expletive deleted]," Vigneault said to reporters. "[expletive deleted]. Bet [expletive deleted] Boudreau would [expletive deleted] be [expletive deleted] proud of that [expletive deleted] one, wouldn't he? [expletives deleted]."

Before what he called his "Gary Bettman hearing a Canadian team has made the Cup Final" impression, Vigneaut had several other comments, more printable but much less shocking.

The Inaugural Scrabble Battle Live Blog Extravaganza

Welcome to the Inaugural Scrabble Battle Live Blog Extravaganza, the ultimate Scrabble showdown between Vancouver Canucks' winger Tanner Glass and PITB co-founder Harrison Mooney. By now, you probably know that the game is for charity, with all proceeds benefitting the Canucks For Kids Fund. It's not too late to donate. I'm your host, Daniel "Skeeter" Wagner, PITB's other co-founder, and I'll be live at this game's top-secret location (in a bunker off the coast of Yemen*), hanging on every tile. Watch the virtual board at and join the discussion below. Try to be hilarious. We go live at 3pm PST.

*It's an underwater bunker.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Canadiens, February 22, 2011

Canucks 2 - 3 Canadiens

Not sure why, but the Canadiens started this game like they had embarrassed themselves on national television in their previous outing. Frankly, they skated like it was their first time on indoor ice in days, shooting like they hadn't scored a goal in over sixty minutes, and playing like above zero temperatures were suddenly new to them. Spurred by a novel appreciation for insideness, they jumped out to an early lead, and never looked back. The Canucks, meanwhile, drifted for the first ten minutes, spoiled by their indoor malaise. I say this malaise cost us the game. Also, we scored fewer goals. I watched this game:

  • To be perfectly honest, I hated this game. Not just because of the Canucks, mind you, but because the Canadiens play ugly hockey. Ogre ugly. They even employ an ogre. Have you seen James Wisniewksi these days? After taking advantage of a flat-footed Canucks team early, they spent the evening defending their lead by collapsing in front of Carey Price like the 1929 stock market, and clogging up the neutral zone like a big ball of hair in the J-trap. It was unattractive hockey.
  • Speaking of hate, Harrison would like everyone to know that he hates P.K. Subban. He claims he's allowed to, because they're both black. That said, I thought I heard him say something about the white way, but it turns out he was saying the white whale (he's in Darren Pang's book club). I'm actually a Subban fan. He's a jerk, sure, but no moreso than Kesler or Burrows. He's a pain in the posterior to play against and is unapologetic about being young and talented. Nothing wrong with that.
  • Tonight's big story? Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg were in the audience tonight. I'd be upset about this if I were Nick Frost. Cruise is a much better-looking running mate, and considering his career-trajectory, he might soon be reduced to playing sidekicks. Anyway, considering Cruise and Pegg are from the United States and United Kingdom, respectively, I assume they spent the majority of the game wondering where the ball was. And fending off thetans. Couch jump.
  • One of Ryan Kesler's most underrated skills is his overall opaqueness. He used this ability to great effect tonight, proving to Carey Price that it is impossible to see an incoming puck through a body. Not even with X-Ray Specs. You would need military-grade x-ray glasses, and the Canadiens just don't have access to that kind of hardware. Come to think of it, that's about the only kind of hardware they don't have a tonne of. That's a french ton, for those who don't know.
  • Kesler was also a beast in the faceoff circle tonight. He went 13-for-13 in the defensive zone, 4-for-5 in the neutral zone, and 8-for-11 in the offensive zone. That's 25-for-29 overall. I say again: he took 29 faceoffs. He lost four. But those four cost them the game. Trade him for money.
  • The Canucks Scrabble challenge (in which Harrison will be competing tomorrow) was enough of a big deal to get mentioned twice. It was sort of neat. That said, just to establish, Shorty's proposed Scrabble technique of spelling the word "THE" to block triple word scores is not recommended, and doesn't really make sense. I really can't think of a single scenario where spelling the word "THE" to block a triple-word score--without actually using the triple-word--score would work. That said, Shorty's Scrabble knowledge definitely tops Garrett, who only seemed to know that A had a low-point value.
  • Between his poor puck management, and his incessant urges to go wide and try wrap-arounds, it's a wonder Mason Raymond remains an NHL second-liner. He should try managing a truck stop diner, where the turnovers, wraps, and poor management are expected.
  • Keith Ballard and Dan "Community Man" Hamhuis both played tonight, but neither was really back, if you know what I mean. They weren't at 100%. For example, Dan Hamhuis only built one Venezuelan orphanage during the game.
  • Christian Ehrhoff played 28:35 tonight, which is more than he played in the games Hamhuis and Ballard missed. That's too much icetime for the Hoff, who doesn't play a steady enough game to be on the ice for half of it. Without Alex Edler, he's a bit manic and overzealous. In the last ten minutes of the game (when he didn't seem to leave the ice), Ehrhoff rushed the puck well, but tried to force play after play, and often wound up getting turned back or flummoxing his forwards. A steadying presence like Edler's would have helped greatly. One might say that Christian Ehrhoff misses Alex Edler like Raffi Torres misses the net. That is to say, constantly.
  • Actually, I'm going to the Canucks superskills on Sunday, and I'm hoping Torres competes in the shooting accuracy competition. More than that, I hope he wins, just to increase his already astronomical ability to boggle. Think he plays Boggle? Should this be our next challenge? #BoggleMeRaffi
  • The Canucks evidently got 39 shots-on-net, with the Canadiens blocking another 22. The number of quality scoring chances, on the other hand, was significantly lower, and this is the third or fourth game in a row where this has been the case. During this stretch, with the defensive injuries, the Canucks' shot totals have actually gone up, but the overall quality of their offense has gone down. One example would be the very common occurrence of the Sedins parking behind the net. Typically, they make something happen from back there, but half of the threat is predicated on the defensemen being viable passing options. They really weren't tonight. Instead, you had long stretches of Alex Burrows darting back and forth in front of the crease, hoping to get open, before Henrik gave up and went somewhere else.
  • For the first time, Chris Tanev looked a little out of place in the NHL. He's really only had one unimpressive game prior to this evening, but tonight, the Canadiens took advantage of how raw a talent he is. Unlike Mikael Samuelsson, whose minus-3 was not reflective of his overall defensive play (it had more to do with playing with Mason Raymond), Tanev's minus-2 was self-made. On the opening goal, he drifted into center ice while David Desharnais tiptoed in behind him (inasmuch as one on skates can tiptoe) for a breakaway. On the second Montreal goal, he took himself out of the play with a poorly-timed hit and couldn't get back in time to cover Andrei Kostitsyn. To this, I say: Tanev, play to your strengths, one of which is not strength.
  • The Canucks' power play quite nearly bailed them out tonight, potting two goals on six powerplays (one here, one above), despite looking discombobulated, at times. Part of me feels like the power play let the team down tonight, especially considering the ill-disciplined nature of Montreal's penalties. It was especially aggravating to see a five-on-three go to waste. The Canucks remain one of only two teams in the NHL that hasn't scored on a five-on-three, the other being the special teams juggernaut that is Edmonton. Suffice it to say, sharing any statistical anomaly with Edmonton should be somewhat embarrassing.
  • At under five minutes, Cody Hodgson had one minute less icetime than Victor Oreskovich. Thinking about the playoffs, that is not a sign of trust. This is.
  • Carey Price played well tonight. He's been good all season, really, and it wasn't that long ago that everybody was calling for Bob Gainey's head because he'd traded the wrong goalie. I brought crow for everybody. nom nom nom
  • And finally, I wasn't a huge fan of Alex Burrows's game tonight. Not too long ago, he was scoring like crazy, so it's unfair to complain that he's not scoring. But he didn't score tonight. It would have been nice if he had done so, especially with the golden opportunities he was given. It was especially bothersome because he didn't do much else. His puck retrieval was below-average and his forechecking was ineffective. He's at his best when he's creating turnovers and getting the puck to the Sedins, not when he's waiting for the Sedins to get the puck to him.

The Canuck Academy Awards

In honor of the Academy Awards coming up this Sunday, we here at Pass it to Bulis have taken it upon ourselves to award our own versions of the Academy Awards to our beloved Vancouver Canucks. Like the actual Academy Awards, it's incredibly self-congratulatory, but that's just fine. After all, the Canucks are first place in the NHL, Daniel is leading the NHL in points, and Pass it to Bulis gets more and more famous every day. So let's take this opportunity to feel good about the team, pat each other on the back, and dress up like we're going to a shindig on Persephone.

Alex Burrows is on Team Mooney

The Inaugural Canucks Scrabble Battle takes place at 3pm tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon, and I would urge you, once again, to donate to the Canucks For Kids Fund on behalf of either Team Glass or Team Mooney. If you recall, the side that receives the most pledges will also receive the vital first play, and I want it. Heck, I might need it. As of yesterday, the totals, (courtesy of writer Derek Jory over at Fort Nucks), had Team Glass $30 out in front, but who knows how close things are now, especially when Jory himself threw his weight (and wallet) behind Team Glass? I thought maybe the writer's bond would be enough to draw Jory to my corner, but it appears that mullets are thicker are water.

But don't fret, Team Mooney acolytes. There is, yet, vocal support from within the Canucks organization, and it comes from an unlikely source. Tanner Glass's teammate, Alex Burrows. Here's Hosea Cheung, of Vancouver 24 Hours (p. 20):

When asked if Glass stood a chance, Alex Burrows immediately said no, adding his teammate was known to brag about his Scrabble skills. “That’s what he asked his fiancée for Christmas, a little Scrabble dictionary,” he said. “I don’t know how a Saskatchewan guy, not that smart, is going to do against a Scrabble pro.”

Burn. That said, Alex Burrows claiming Tanner Glass isn't very good at making words is like the pot calling the kettle unintelligible. But who am I to quibble? Ring it up, Burrows is a Bulie, although he should know I'm far from a Scrabble pro (unless you count playing Scrabble at work professional Scrabbling... just kidding, boss).

On the flipside, Cory Schneider is toeing the party line:

Goaltender Cory Schneider, however, was more diplomatic in support of Glass. “Those Dartmouth kids fall asleep with [a dictionary] under their pillow, they soak up the words while they sleep.

Funny guy, that Schneider. But let it be known Dartmouth alums, eggheads through they may be, can be beaten. Just ask Paul Bissonnette. Biznasty:

Ask lee stempniak how biznasty beat him in scrabble and he went to dartmouth

Ack, that's embarrassing. Skeeter beat me once, too, and he brings it up every time we hang out. That said, the bigger revelation here is that BizNasty scrabbles. Maybe PITB should be challenging him next. Scrabble for the homeless? Someone call the Phoenix Coyotes.

Make sure you're online at 3pm. Skeeter, my blogwife, will be liveblogging the Scrabble match right here at Pass it to Bulis; you can follow the virtual game board at; and I'm sure @VanCanucks and @PassItToBulis will be tweeting plenty of goodies. As for me, I'm off to study my playable three-letter words.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Little Motivation For Cody Hodgson

The Canucks are applying a little pressure to Hodgson, who has three games to prove his merit.

By now, you've probably heard the news that the Canucks made a minor roster adjustment this morning, sending Evan Oberg back down to the Moose and calling up Cody Hodgson in his place. For Canuck fans, it's good news all across the board, as Oberg's reassignment means that Dan Hamhuis will jump back into the lineup on Tuesday, and Cody Hodgson's second invitation means that the Canucks liked what they saw from him two weeks ago.

That said, they clearly weren't fully satisfied with Hodgson's play, or they wouldn't have reassigned him in the first place. Suffice it to say, the coaching staff wants to see more out of him, which is why Alain Vigneault applied some substantial supplementary pressure today by effectively telling Cody Hodgson, by way of the media, that he had three games to prove he should stay in Vancouver this season.

I Find This Photo Odd: Raffi Torres is Literally a Bowling Ball

Raffi Torres has been called a human bowling ball on many occasions. It was only a matter of time before we saw his true form. As the photo above indisputably proves, it turns out he literally is a bowling ball. Additionally, the photos below were just sent to us, and they show that Raffi actually leads quite an interesting life in his true bowling ball form.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cory Schneider on After Hours, PITB Remains Famous

As though he weren't already doing enough to make himself eminently desirable to other organizations, here's Cory Schneider on After Hours, proving he's a downright fabulous interview to boot. Turns out he's as great in front of the camera as he is in front of the net. He's open, he's honest, and he's funny. For example: when asked about his days playing baseball, he deadpans, "I played catcher, so I must have some sort of equipment fetish." And if dry wit's not your flavour, he even does... wait for it... impressions. Yes, you heard correctly. Cory Schneider's Jannik Hansen impression is deadly accurate, and therefore hilarious.

This interview also marks the second time Scott Oake has read a Pass it to Bulis tweet to an interviewee (after the Brendan Morrison sitdown from late October). We are so famous. The question in question, at 7:52 of the clip: "Ask Schneider if he's ever considered putting laxative in Luongo's water, like Dany Sabourin did to get some playoff minutes."

Schneider's a pretty solid sport, again deadpanning a humorous response: "You never get your hands dirty. You gotta have someone else do it for you. You gotta stay away from the crime scene."

It was a solid night for Canucks' tweeps overall, as @Bieksa_Luvver3, @Guts_Mctavish24, and @TheFalconer all had questions read on-air as well. The Falconer's was my favourite, as it led to the Jannik Hansen impression I had no idea existed. We might need to pick his brain in the future, as he appears to know a lot of things we don't. Who are you, Falconer? Are you Batman?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. Stars, February 19, 2011

Canucks 5 - 2 Stars

I ask you: what is the difference between Skeeter and the Dallas Stars? Well, Skeeter was at tonight's game. It's a good thing the tickets were a gift, because otherwise he'd be demanding a refund on the grounds that he paid to watch two teams play hockey and only one showed up. I'm kidding, of course. Skeeter was definitely spoiled tonight, as the Canucks ran Dallas out of the building to sweep the season series, potting five lovely goals (a couple of them what some might call wizardous sedinerie) in the process. Suffice it to say, I'm very jealous, as this was definitely one to see live. And, while Skeeter attended, I merely watched this game:

  • The Canucks still have not suffered two consecutive regulation losses since mid-November. Give them credit for bouncing back like Maggie Simpson covered in springs, led by the Sedins. After the loss to the Predators, some of the Vancouver media guys gently called them out, but the Twins were definitely not gentle in their response. The top line busted out in a big way tonight, picking up eight points, collectively, while scoring three goals: the opener, the game-winner, and the back-breaking insurance goal (above). What a beautiful goal the last one is, by the way. Of note: it adheres to the previously-defined Third Law of Sedinery, which effectively says that the Sedins always make one more pass than is customary.
  • Andrew Raycroft hadn't made a save in a start since January 21, and you know the Canucks talked about getting to him early. Daniel Sedin's goal to open the scoring was exactly the sort of shot the Sedins never make: from a bad angle, simply hoping for some puck luck. Typically, Daniel would have cut back to the boards and tried to set up something prettier, but considering the possibility of a rusty netminder, he stuck to the game plan, and sure enough, it went in. I'm sure it was humiliating for Daniel, a bonafide wizard, to attempt something so ordinary, just like it was humiliating for Gandalf the Grey to be imprisoned by Saruman atop Orthanc, the black tower of Isengard.
  • Kevin Weekes had a rough game tonight, stating the obvious a bit too much for my liking. His shining moment: "[Karlas] Skrastins plays a defensive game." Yes, defencemen will do that.
  • Proof that Daniel "Out For Blood" Sedin was everywhere tonight: he somehow managed to get up to the broadcast booth immediately after the game and pick the three stars. How else to explain Ryan Kesler (0 points) getting third star honours over Henrik Sedin (1 goal, 2 assists, infinite wizardousness)? But seriously, doesn't the colour guy usually pick the three stars? Because if so, this is more tangible proof Kevin Weekes needs a new assignment.
  • Raffi Torres had an inspired game tonight, breaking out of his 23-game goalless streak to score twice (here and here). With a little luck, he might have had one or two more, even, buzzing all night and registering a game-high 5 shots. He also threw his weight around, collecting 3 solid hits and getting into a fight with Brendan Morrow. It was a stupid fight for Morrow. He's the captain, the emotional leader, and the top scoring threat on the Dallas Stars; Torres is the guy that serves Vancouver's bench minors. Something tells me the Stars suffered more for the next five minutes than the Canucks. We've pointed out before that Morrow's leadership skills leave a bit to be desired, in our opinion. I'd like to enter "poor fight selection" into evidence.
  • Evan Oberg was much-improved tonight. He made some good outlet passes, generated a few promising rushes, and even doled out two hits. He's been inconsistent in Manitoba, but if he returns to the Moose and plays like he did tonight, he'll make a lot of friends. I wonder if being thrown into the fire will wind up being good for him.
  • Yann Sauve has really impressed me. His desperate play to poke the puck out to the neutral zone and spring the Sedins on that 3-on-1 was fantastic. His strength along the boards has been really unexpected. Chris Tanev, who played 19:57 tonight, has earned praise for having the look of an NHLer, but Sauve might deserve some appreciation as well. This song by Andrew Bird is a good start, although Bird spelled his name wrong.
  • Mason Raymond has apparently decided that nothing is better than a wrap-around. Just wait until he becomes a father; he'll love swaddling.
  • Raymond's linemates have also apparently decided to stop passing to him on the rush. Maybe you noticed this: at one point, Mikael Samuelsson and Raymond got in behind the defense, and rather than make a pass would have sent Raymond in alone, Samuelsson took a low percentage slapshot from just inside the blue line. It seemed like a silly decision, but what else was he going to do? Pass it to Raymond> I'm sure he pictured Raymond receiving the pass in front, then taking the puck wide around the boards for some reason before trying a wrap-around. So hedecided to keep it.
  • Great defensive effort by the Canucks tonight, as they did fantastic job of lightening Roberto Luongo's workload. The Stars only managed to get 24 shots on Funny Bob, which is especially impressive considering they directed 55 at the net. 16 were blocked, and 15 went wide. 11 Canucks registered a blocked shot, Chris Tanev leading the way with 3. The team-wide defensive effort was also on display in the hits department, where the Canucks tallied 28, with 14 different guys getting at least one and 10 guys getting 2 or more. Conversely, Dallas had 21, less than half the hits they registered the last time these two teams met. By the game's end, the Canucks appeared to have completely demoralized the Stars. It was like the paddling scene in Dazed & Confused.
  • All kidding aside, I feel bad for the Stars. They simply don't match up well with the Canucks. The Canucks have similar problems with the Anaheim Ducks.
  • Brendan Morrow basically confirmed this, too. Here he is, shaking his head while discussing the Sedins (postgame via Jeff Paterson): "You know what they're going to do and you still can't do anything about it." Which makes the Sedins hockey's version of The Strangers, from Knowing. It also makes Brendan Morrow hockey's Nicolas Cage, which is fitting, because they're both ridiculous.
  • And finally, courtesy of Scott Rintoul: all five Canuck goals tonight were netted by gingers. It was clearly a night for redheads. Rick Astley could have scored.

Did Victor Oreskovich Need to be Deprogrammed?

When considering the development of NHL players, we often overlook the influence of environment. Consider Todd Bertuzzi, who developed a penchant for selfish play and an aversion to backchecking under Marc Crawford in Vancouver, nearly falling out of the league because he's couldn't divest himself of these habits afterwards. Thankfully, Bertuzzi landed in Detroit, and has fully taken to Mike Babcock's two-way system.

Babcock's ability to get through to him shouldn't come as a surprise. It's an inevitability--everybody breaks in Detroit. Babcock's system is so transformative that former Red Wings are highly sought. Mikael Samuelsson is one such player whose time in Detroit increased his free agent value. Players that come through Jacques Lemaire's system (former Canuck Willie Mitchell) or Barry Trotz's system (Dan Hamhuis) see a similar effect.

It stands to reason, however, that if a player can develop the right habits in the right system, the wrong system can ingrain the wrong habits. One such environment appears to be that of the Florida Panthers, the team from whom the Canucks acquired Victor Oreskovich.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tanner Glass Thinks We're Witty, But We're Onto Him

So Tanner Glass thinks we're witty. He's right, too. We're the Oscar Wilde of Canucks blogs*. All over the blogosphere, people talk of our biting wit, flamboyant dress, and glittering conversation. Anyway, here's Tanner, talking about our impending Scrabble Battle (the Battle at Helm's Deep of athlete versus blogger board game battles) in his latest blog for

Also coming up in the next two weeks will be the much-anticipated Scrabble Challenge against the guys from Pass It To Bulis. I’ve been trying to practice here and there, but to be honest, I’m most looking forward to raising money for the Canucks for Kids Fund. T-shirts will be available soon, so keep your eyes peeled. I’ll make sure to give another update after the event to make sure you guys don’t just get the Pass It To Bulis point of view with their witty banter. Wish me luck!

Wish me luck, he says. Ha! Forget that noise. Wish me luck (#TeamMooney)! It's time I came right out and said it. Too many of you are smitten with Tanner because of his underdog status. Everybody's on #TeamGlass. Friends, family, and Bulies can't help but love him.

I say Tanner's goodness is a brilliant ploy. He sounds like the nicest guy in the world. You think he's that nice naturally? I say bah. With a bevy of media people telling me how to behave, I'd seem good too. Instead, I'm the monomaniacal nerd everyone wants to fail. It's all marketing!** I mean, come on. Listen to him, coyly trying to make it seem as though he's not practicing day and night. I see through Tanner's strategy. He's playing possum. Know how I know? Photographic evidence. Know how else I know? Steven Turnbull. There's a conspiracy here. I'm about to blow your mind.

I Watched This Game: Canucks at Predators, February 18, 2011

Canucks 1 - 3 Predators

Yesterday, someone told me that, considering Vancouver's injury troubles, the Canucks had to try for a 6-5 or 8-7 victory, but that was never realistic. The Canucks' defencemen aren't just counted on for defense; they also facilitate breakout passes and jump into rushes. They're also the linchpin of the Canucks' offense, sending the team through the neutral zone with speed, then trailing the play and jumping into the rush. It's more than just defense Vancouver's lacking right now--it's guys that can play their system. Unfortunately, the Nashville Predators have a full lineup of guys that play their system, and that system involves clogging up the neutral zone. Effectively, The Nashville Predators are the Shawshank State Penitentiary of the NHL: the only way to beat them is to make a perfect breakout. I watched this game:

  • When Mike Gillis acquired Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard, it was to provide Alain Vigneault with a full stable of horses for Vigneault's defense-powered system, effectively guaranteeing that all three pairings could play it. It's an obvious statement, but you don't want guys on your team that can't play your system, because you don't want opponents getting a break from it (ask the Chicago Blackhawks' coaching staff about the downgrade to their bottom-six forwards). Unfortunately, icing a full lineup, especially in the face of injuries, often necessitates dressing less-skilled guys. Vigneault typically alternates between two pairings, guaranteeing that one puck-mover is on the ice at all times, but he didn't have that luxury last night. Sami Salo's not quite ready to hit the ice every second shift, and Christian Ehrhoff can't be on the ice all night. That means the other four guys are getting more icetime than they should, and the effect is plenty of vacation time for Nashville.
  • Speaking of Christian Ehrhoff, he's neither a number one defenceman nor a generator, and tasked with powering the Canucks for the entire evening, he showed he didn't quite have the juice (and speaking of not having the Juice, the team missed Kevin Bieksa something fierce). Ehrhoff's an interesting guy. He's a D-man, yes, but he's much more concerned with making breakout passes than winning defensive puck battles. He's not interested in being the man back. Often, if hemmed in the defensive zone, he'll get impatient and take a sloppy penalty or make a sloppy play, especially when he knows he's the only guy who can facilitate a breakout rush. We saw this yesterday, as Ehrhoff was on the ice for two of Nashville's three goals, and made a sloppy ring around the boards that led to the third. He also took the only two Canuck penalties on the night. Poor guy's spread a little thin.
  • The Sedins struggled as well. Granted, they scored a powerplay goal (above), but they had a tough time getting into the offensive zone and setting up. This isn't surprising. The Sedins don't much care for the neutral zone, which is why they have so many plays to bypass it, such as sending the puck the length of the ice for someone to skate onto, or flipping the puck way up in the air, over everyone. Typically, Vigneault plays Ehrhoff and Edler with the Sedins to ensure they have someone who can send them into the offensive zone with speed. They're having a hard time playing their game when they have to go back to the defensive zone to get the puck.
  • Loved Garrett's misspeak on the Daniel Sedin goal: "Did that sh*t hit O'Brien's stick?" Garrett's so street. I wanted Shorty to answer, naw. That's Daniel Sedin's 30th goal of the season, by the way. He appears to have quite a knack for that sort of thing.
  • Mason Raymond continues to frustrate. He had 5 shots, which is something, but most were from the outside. Furthermore, he wasn't utilizing his speed through the neutral zone. In a game where the defenders aren't capable of making the expected passes, your speedy wingers have to help cut through some of that neutral zone pressure. Instead, Raymond disappeared, like a midget into a cabinet.
  • Chris Tanev and Yann Sauve both had nice, quiet games. Sauve, especially, was doing a great job of putting forwards into the boards when they tried to step around him and gain the zone. He had a game-high 4 hits. Tanev continues to be calm under pressure. These two guys look like future NHL regulars. Evan Oberg, on the other hand, was the first defender the Canucks have utilized this season that didn't look like he belonged in the NHL. For a guy whose nickname is Obi, he didn't look much like a Jedi to me. Not once did he turn a forechecker away with a mind trick, for instance. This isn't the zone you're looking for. Oberg looked small and jittery. Pucks jumped off his stick, and he was caught out of position a few times. He steadily lost his coach's trust as the game went on, dipping to a team-low 4 shifts in the third period, when Tanev and Sauve had twice that number.
  • The Aaron Rome trip n' fall that led to Nashville's second goal (seven seconds after the Canucks tied the game) was unfortunate, but I can't decide if it was more or less fortunate than Chris Tanev's face deflecting the puck to Mike Fisher on the same one. After Rome Tanev played the surprise 2-on-1 so nicely, and took away the pass expertly. Unfortunately, his face had other plans. Suffice it to say, if the Canucks thought the hockey gods might give them a little bit of good luck back, they were sorely mistaken. Like Ryan Kesler said after the game, that goal was a back-breaker.
  • For the third straight game, the Canucks' third line had the most jump. But they still had nowhere near as much jump as Kris Kross.
  • I liked Tanner Glass and Victor Oreskovich's shift after Nashville took a two-goal lead. As we've observed in the past, it really isn't smart to fight when you're up by two, but it's a desirable time to fight if down by two. Glass and Oreskovich made some massive hits in an attempt to goad a Nashville player into a scrap, but unfortunately, the Predators were wise not be swayed. Another thing that's wise not to be swayed: summer footwear. Wait, my mistake, that's suede.
  • And finally: give the Canucks a ton of credit for generating the amount of shots that they did. They put 36 on Pekka Rinne, and attempted another 28. Mikael Samuelsson and Ryan Kesler had 9 shots blocked between them. Unfortunately, Rinne was able to see the shots that got through, so he stopped them. I hate when goalies do that.
  • I was impressed with the boisterousness of the Nashville crowd. They had an announced attendance of 15,337, just under 2000 below capacity, but it felt like a sellout. They were loud and they were proud. It's too bad they weren't also black, because that's a James Brown hat trick.

Going to a Game, Plus Other Reasons to Be Excited

I'll be at the February 19 matchup between the Canucks and Stars. I am pumped.

Being a writer on an evidently popular Canucks blog (unless you are all my family with increasingly complicated pseudonyms), you would think that I frequently attend Canucks games in person. Such is not the case: I have actually only been to one Canucks game in my entire life. The issue is that Canucks tickets cost money, which I have only infrequently*. I grew up going to Chilliwack Chiefs games with my grandpa and I catch an occasional Chilliwack Bruins, Abbotsford Heat or Aldergrove Kodiaks game, but going to a Canucks game is a special treat. Until the Canucks start handing out press passes to blogs, going to a game will be a rare event.

This Saturday, however, my wife and I will be in Vancouver with my brother and his wife to watch the Canucks take on the Stars. The tickets were a Christmas present from my dad, who is awesome**. Massive understatement: I'm excited. For those who frequently step into the confines of GM Place Rogers Arena, it may be a bit more routine, but for me this is huge. I'm also fairly confident about the Canucks' chances: they have outscored the Stars 15-3 in their 3 meetings this season. Even with a battered defense, I've got a good feeling.

To make things even better, that's not the end of it: this Saturday ignites a fuse of awesome Canuck-ness set to explode when Harrison, myself, and our wives pack our bags for The Greatest Road Trip of All Time (TM). It starts with the game against the Stars, continues with Harrison's much-ballyhooed Scrabble Battle against Tanner Glass (which I will be attending and intend to live-blog for everyone's enjoyment), continues with the Canucks Superskills on the 27th, and climaxes with the road trip. It shall be glorious.

What can I say? I'm a fan. Look for stories, pictures, and other goodies in the coming weeks.

* Speaking of, we need to start making some money with this blog. Any ideas?
** Now that it has been stated on the internet, it is set in stone and cemented as fact.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sergei Shirokov Fights Nazem Kadri

From the desk of the Bureau of Unexpected Fights: that's Maple Leafs' prospect Nazem Kadri and Canucks' prospect Sergei Shirokov, going at it in last night's game between the Toronto Marlies and the Manitoba Moose. Not since Kym Johnson and Jerry Springer have I seen such unlikely dance partners.

And, if the idea of these two fighting isn't awesome enough, the shouts of "Keep throwin' em!" from the bench put this one over the top.

By the way, don't tell Brian Burke that he drafted a kid who couldn't win a fistfight with a Russian. Truculence indeed.

Consider that the Canucks pulled Evan Oberg out of this game as a precautionary measure, just to ensure he didn't get hurt if they needed to call him up. In hindsight, that was probably a good call. If Sergei Shirokov, of all people, got into a fight, who knows what terrible fate might have befallen Oberg? He could have been stabbed with a trident for all we know.

Thanks to Puck Daddy for sharing this rare footage with the public.

The Dreaded Two-Goal Lead: It Ate Everybody

Canucks news comes fast and furious, and sometimes we find ourselves playing catchup. Thankfully, the Dreaded Two Goal Lead--often called "the worst lead in hockey"--is super easy to come back from. Everybody knows it's a guaranteed death sentence for those that hold it. Well, much like an ice hockey team coming from two goals down, PITB will now effortlessly catch up.

The Canucks announced early on Wednesday morning that Harold Snepsts would be the fourth former Canuck to see his name in the Ring of Honour. Snepsts is a worthy recipient, currently holding the franchise records for games played and penalty minutes. Also, he looked like this. I've heard criticism that Snepsts, a depth guy of sorts, doesn't deserve the honour--that if he didn't look the way he did, he might not be remembered as fondly. Well, Halle Berry endured similar criticism, and she's got an Oscar. Admittedly, Snepsts' look did give him a certain notoriety, but you can't fault a guy for riding his remarkable unattractiveness into the annals of Canucks' history. Somewhere, Brent Sopel is wondering if the same strategy could work twice.

News broke early this morning that Kevin Bieksa might be the latest devouree of The Monster That Ate Everybody, the creature that's picking offf Canucks' defenseman at a rate of one per game. It turns out that, Tuesday night in Minnesota, when Bieksa stepped in front of the large rubber disc traveling at approximately 100 miles per hour, he got hurt. Juice reportedly has a foot fracture that may keep him out of the lineup, and Evan Oberg has been recalled. Jeff Paterson points out that, if Bieksa doesn't go, Christian Ehrhoff will have 7 more NHL games played this season than the rest of the Canucks active d-corps combined. Hopefully, this occurs to Ehrhoff before he jumps into the rush.

If you're looking for good news on the defensive front, the best anyone can do is report that everyone's surgeries went well. Edler's back surgery was successful, and Andrew Alberts' wrist surgery was as well. Normally, this wouldn't be big news, but I imagine that the recent string of bad luck had everyone a little concerned something would go wrong on the operating table. Example: Alex Edler blocked a shot during the procedure and wound up being awake through the whole thing. He's out indefinitely with incoherent rambling. Seriously, though, the way they're doling out surgeries these days, the Canucks' doctors must feel a bit like Dr. Nick Riviera. Rumour has it every patient got a free nose job.

And finally, perhaps you heard the yesterday's non-news that Ian White had been traded to the Canucks. Obviously, he hadn't, and the news was actually just a Twitter rumour that spread out of control, but still, it was scary for awhile. Reports circulated that Jannik Hansen was headed the other way, and everyone freaked out a little, which is a testament to how far Hansen has come. He wasn't a lock to make this team in the preseason. Now he's a vital cog. Anyway, the news was eventually debunked by way of a Mike Gillis tweet, which is impressively progressive, from one perspective. On the other hand, others suggested Gillis simply did it that way because he didn't want to take a call from TSN.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Tanner Glass Scrabble Battle Is On

How did he get a shirt? We don't even have one yet.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Tanner Glass Scrabble challenge is officially a go. If you'll recall, back in November, we issued an open challenge to the Canucks' grinder, calling him out and questioning his Scrabbling abilities (which, rumour has it, are questionable). Two weeks later, shockingly, Tanner Glass accepted. Also, there were t-shirts. We promised to update everyone in the new year.

Well, here's your update: Tanner, the Canucks, and PITB have come together, and the Scrabble Battle will go down Wednesday, February 23, at 3pm. We're stoked. Here's Derek Jory of with the details:

Whether Harrison Mooney, half the manpower behind, was serious or not when he posted an open Scrabble challenge to Tanner Glass after hearing the Vancouver Canucks forward reveal he is an avid player on road trips on the Team 1040, Glass has accepted and the stage is now set for the first ever Scrabble Battle.

The inaugural Scrabble Battle will pit Glass and Mooney in a one-hour showdown of everyone’s favourite word game on Wednesday, February 23rd at 3 p.m. PST; fans can follow each player’s moves as they happen on via the virtual game board and by following @VanCanucks on Twitter.

The goal of the Scrabble Battle is to raise as much money as possible for Canucks for Kids Fund. All proceeds from the t-shirts go directly to Canucks for Kids Fund, (CFKF) which has reached communities throughout BC by granting more than 32 million dollars benefiting areas of health and wellness, grassroots hockey and education since 1986.

If you want to show your support for either Team Glass or Team Mooney, pledges are also being accepted with all funds generated again supporting CFKF. The hook here is that the player who raises the most money by the morning of the 23rd will get to play first during the Scrabble Battle.

And that's that.

The best thing ever? In the header photo, Tanner is mimicking his pose on the shirt while wearing the shirt. It's very meta. It's like the Inception, but with shirts.

Here's the deal, Bulies: please, please, for the love of all that is good, go donate money on my behalf. I want that first move and I need all the help I can get. I'm not sure if you know this, but Tanner Glass has some wealthy friends. This one Italian guy he knows is making 10 million this year. This other Italian guy he knows pays the first Italian's guy salary. Suffice it to say, I'm in tough.

But so help me if Glass gets that first play. I could wind up playing from behind all game, and that's unacceptable. And so help me if I lose. If that happens, I'm retiring from blogging forever. Disclaimer: no I'm not.

Anyway, #TeamMooney.
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