NASHVILLE -- Vancouver Canucks
center Henrik Sedin
estimates that of the roughly 850 NHL games he has played, 840 of them have been with his twin brother Daniel on his wing.
If coach Alain Vigneault
sticks with what he tinkered with during Tuesday's morning skate, then the night's game against the Predators will represent one of those rare exceptions.
Henrik skated on a line with Mason Raymond
and newcomer Byron Bitz
during the skate and Daniel practiced on a line centered by Ryan Kesler
with Alexandre Burrows
on the right. Vigneault said the final decision would not come until the pregame meal when he consults with his assistants.
"What you're always trying to do is to make sure you're putting players in positions where they can have success, and we got a couple guys right now that might be off, considering the type of hockey we've seen some of these players play," Vigneault said, "so, throughout a season, you always have to make some adjustments and we might have to tonight."
Without naming names, Vigneault was referring to Henrik, who, despite a team-best 55 points that tie him for fifth in the League, has failed to score in 10 straight games entering Tuesday and has only 1 goal in his last 13.
While not quite as unproductive, Daniel has failed to register a point in six of his last 10 games.
Nonetheless, Daniel still has 4 goals and 1 assist in that stretch to give him 52 points, tied for 11th in the NHL.
And the uncharacteristic play by the twins has hardly slowed the red-hot Canucks, who have not lost in regulation over their last six games (4-0-2) and, like Nashville, have lost in regulation only three times in their last 17 games.
Vigneault acknowledged breaking up the brothers was a somewhat extreme step.
"I have split them up a few times during the six years for short amount of times," Vigneault said of his tenure. "Just sometimes to create a little something new, but, at the end of the day, those two guys are better together. We all know that, we all agree. But right now, basically, if you look at since the Boston game (on Jan. 7), it's almost been a month since they've been a little bit off. So we've got the afternoon to decide if it's time -- if a month is enough."
Henrik said sometimes it's beneficial to try something new, and said that despite the team success that the Canucks can play better.
"I think no one in there is happy with the way we've played," Henrik said. "That's a secret to no one. We're getting wins because of good goaltending, individual effort, but that's not how we want to win games."
In Bitz, the Canucks are conducting something of an experiment. A 6-foot-5, 215-pounder out of Cornell, he showed some promise as a gritty wing in 2009-10 with Boston and Florida, totaling 5 goals and 6 assists in 52 games. But four separate groin and abdominal injuries had kept him out of the NHL until he was called up from the AHL on Saturday.
"If you break a bone or something, it's four to six weeks," Bitz said, comparing his injury. "I was to the point where I was doing rehab and never knowing when the end was coming. I never saw the finish line. That was the tough part and I finally got there."
Here are the projected lines for the Canucks:
- Ryan Kesler
- Alexandre Burrows
- Henrik Sedin
- Byron Bitz
- Cody Hodgson
- Jannik Hansen
- Maxim Lapierre
- Dale Weise
- Kevin Bieksa
- Sami Salo
- Keith Ballard