STILL SINKING IN
An anxious Sunday it was for Canuck MVP Henrik Sedin. One day later, the winning of the Art Ross still hasn't sunk in. Henrik spoke to the media today before the team's practice about his biggest accomplishment this season.
"It's a surreal feeling," said Henrik. "I don't think it's sunk in yet. I think it's something you're going to look back at after the season and realize that it's something big. It's been a lot of fun."
Former Canuck captain Markus Naslund, who had lost the Art Ross to Peter Forsberg back in 2003, was one of the first to call and congratulate Henrik for being the first Canuck to ever win the Art Ross.
"I felt good all year," said Henrik. "I can't say enough about the teammates, the line, Burr and Danny, and all the guys on the team. The last two weeks, it's been a lot of focus on me in the room. A lot of guys had to step down and play less minutes. So they did everything they could and the coaches did everything they could to give me the chance. I couldn't have done it without those guys."
Henrik played the most of any forward on Saturday against the Flames. He banked 25:24 TOI, the third most on the team.
"We didn't want to change the way we played but the last few games when we realized he had a chance, we wanted to give him the chance, and he took it, so it was great," said brother Daniel.
Henrik has had an exceptional season setting new career highs in goals (29), assists (83), and points (112). He set a new franchise record for assists, beating Trevor Linden's former record of 415, Henrik now has 434. On Saturday Henrik also surpassed Pavel Bure's record for most points in a season (110).
"We were trying to help him out as much we can," said Alex Burrows. "He's a great teammate and everybody in his locker room loves him. He's our MVP and we're really happy for him."
Shane O'Brien returned to practice with the team after missing Saturday's game against the Flames. He will likely be ready for game one of the playoffs this Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings.
"It felt good just to be back skating with the boys and getting ready for Thursday night," said O'Brien, "I'm feeling better everyday. My legs felt good, have to give credit to Roger [Takahashi], who I've been working with the past few days. This is an exciting time of year, bumps and bruises are going to happen along the way. You have to find a way to play through them, get out there, and play to your ability."
Aaron Rome did skate on his own before the full team practice but is still day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. Sami Salo did not skate today and is also day-to-day.
The lineup for game one of the first round will be decided in the next few days.
THOUGHTS ON ROUND ONE
With the regular season at an end, the Canucks can finally start preparing for game one that will take place this Thursday on home ice against the Los Angeles Kings.
"Now the real season starts," said Ryan Kesler. "We played 82 games to get here and now we're back at square one. It's an exciting part of the season."
The Canucks haven’t seen the Kings in the post-season since round two of 1993 when they lost in a 4-2 series. Wayne Gretzky led the Kings and the league in scoring during the playoffs that year with 40 points (15-25-40). The Canucks won in game four but lost in game five when Kings centre Gary Shuchuk got hurt, went to the dressing room, and later came back to win gave five in double overtime. The Kings went on to lose a 4-1 series in the Stanley Cup finals against the Montreal Canadiens.
The Kings have only qualified for the post-season four times since 1993 and have missed out on the past six Stanley Cup playoffs while the Canucks have entered the playoffs nine times since then. Though the Canucks (49-28-5) finished higher in the standings than the Kings (46-27-9), they do not question their skill and potential as a strong playoff opponent.
"They're a very good hockey club, they have a lot of skill and they're well coached," said Kesler. "Every team in the playoffs is a good hockey team and LA is no different."
The Canucks defeated the Kings three times this season but suffered a recent 8-3 loss on April 1, a game the team would like to forget.
"One game doesn't make a difference," said Roberto Luongo. "I think obviously we weren't very happy with that our team game and as individuals. Those things happen over the course of the year. We all know the playoffs are a whole different ball game, and things will be much tighter than they were that game."
Both Henrik (29-83-112) and Daniel Sedin (29-56-85) have registered more points this season than the Kings lead scorer Anze Kopitar. However the Kings lead scoring defenceman, also second in scoring on the team, Drew Doughty, has had an impressive year finishing off the season with 59 points (16-43-59) and is the third highest scoring defenceman in the league. The Canucks will do their homework to make sure they are ready for their round one rivals.
"I think it's part of the preparation," said Luongo. "You have to make sure that you know as much as you can on the opposition, and make sure that once the puck drops on Thursday night that as a group we know exactly what we're doing and more importantly what the opposition is doing."
HODGSON NOT YET A MOOSE
Canuck prospect and star junior Cody Hodgson will not be joining the Manitoba Moose. The 2008 first-round pick of the Canucks flew to Vancouver last week to get treatment from the Canucks medical staff hoping to join the Moose for their playoff run.
Hodgson had broken his toe right before the OHL playoffs started but began to notice his back was troubling him. After getting checked out in Vancouver, Moose head coach Scott Arniel concluded that Hodgson wouldn’t be healthy enough to play.
The 20 year old Battalion forward attended the Canucks’ final regular season game against the Flames last Saturday and spoke to the media during intermission.
"It’s been a real frustrating year, but it’s the past now, hopefully," said Hodgson. "I’m just going to get rested, get physically in great shape come this summer and come back ready to go."
Hodgson played for the Moose in the playoffs last season where he recorded 6 points (2-4-6) and four penalty minutes.
"Last year was a great experience in Manitoba, I really liked playing for coach Arniel and it was really great experience learning to play with men, it’s a lot faster game." said Hodgson.