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Bigger role awaits Sedins at 2010 Olympics

Sunday, 12.27.2009 / 4:17 PM / All-Access Vancouver

By Todd Kimberley - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- This time around, they're "Tre Kronor kingpins."

During the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Vancouver Canucks forwards Daniel and Henrik were utilitarian parts in a Swedish machine that won its first Winter Games gold since 1994.

But the 2010 Vancouver Olympics almost certainly won't be an identical performance for the Canucks' identical twins. Coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson will be relying on Henrik and Daniel to stoke up that Swedish firepower. The Sedins were unavailable for comment on Sunday morning -- the Canucks cancelled their morning skate in advance of Sunday night's game against the Calgary Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome -- but Daniel spoke recently of the anticipated changes in the brothers' Olympic roles.

"We played a smaller role (in Torino), I guess, but the good thing was that they made everyone feel important. We played a lot on the penalty kill in a third- and fourth-line role, but it was still fun because we were a big part of the team," Daniel told the Vancouver Canucks' website just before Christmas.

"We don't know what kind of role to expect this year, because there's a lot of good Swedish players, but you always want to have a big role on the team, and hopefully we get that."

Former NHL stalwart Peter Forsberg, Detroit Red Wings' duo Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom, Washington Capitals sniper Nicklas Backstrom, Columbus Blue Jackets veteran Fredrik Modin, and Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who's currently out of action with a separated shoulder, are among the potent Swedish forwards named to the provisional roster Sunday.

But the 29-year-old Sedins, who've become the face of the Canucks in the past year or two, have been two of the NHL's most prominent, consistent and dynamic scorers since the lockout. In 591 regular-season games with Vancouver since the 2006 Olympics, the Sedins have a combined 179 goals among 592 points.

Henrik, who leads all Swedish-born NHL point producers with 49 -- that's tied for second-best across the league -- likes his team's chances at becoming the first repeat Olympic champions since the Soviets won in 1984 at Sarajevo and 1988 at Calgary.

"Looking back, we were really fortunate just to be a part of the Olympic experience and then to win, it was crazy. It's something I'll always remember for sure," Henrik told the Canucks' site.

"Everything went right for us. We won the right games; we lost to the Slovaks in the round robin, which gave us a little bit of an easier route to the finals; and all of the guys who were having great years over here came over and really kept playing at their peak.

"We've always won with defensive kind of hockey where you need all five guys on the ice to be on the same page," added Henrik. "We've never had the best team in any tournament and we've had to win by playing good team hockey and really coming together quickly."

Vancouver teammate Mikael Samuelsson, 33, who was a linemate of the Sedin twins throughout most of the Torino tournament, was left off Sweden's provisional 2010 roster. Samuelsson entered Sunday night's game without a goal in 13 games.

Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler, 23, had been considered a long shot to crack the Swedish roster, and did not make the country's eight-man defense corps.

Five other Canucks are believed to have a chance to be playing at GM Place in February. Goaltender Roberto Luongo is considered a shoo-in as one of Canada's top two goaltenders, while it's a mere formality for Finland's Sami Salo and Germany's Christian Ehrhoff to be named to their respective countries' corps of defensemen.

Selke Trophy winner Ryan Kesler, 25, of Livonia, Mich., is similarly considered to be a lock for the U.S. team. "I might get a couple of cheers, but mostly boos," he's quoted as saying on NBC.com's website. "It's going to be special for me."

If right winger Pavol Demitra recovers in time from shoulder surgery, he'd be a hands-down, front-line forward for Slovakia.