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Dan the man

by Sunny Dhillon / Vancouver Canucks
Daniel Sedin isn’t hitting the ice with brother Henrik by his side too often these days. So when the twins do get paired up, Daniel’s more than taking advantage of it.

Daniel scored his second goal in as many nights – and 29th of the season – in a losing effort as his Vancouver Canucks dropped a 6-3 decision to the Colorado Avalanche Wednesday night.

Daniel’s tally leaves him just one shy of the 30-goal plateau. One more marker will give the Vancouver sniper back-to-back 30-goal seasons for the first time in his career.

His goal Wednesday – which was Daniel’s ninth against the Avs in their last 14 meetings – was vintage Sedin.

With a Vancouver powerplay coming to an end midway through the first, Daniel picked up the puck along the boards and fed it to Henrik behind the net. As Henrik walked off the goal line, Daniel headed to the slot. Henrik spotted the seam and drifted a beautiful saucer pass through traffic and right onto Daniel’s stick. Daniel one-timed the puck past Colorado goaltender Jose Theodore to put Vancouver on the board and tie things up at one.

A night earlier in Calgary, when the twins were reunited for a shift following a Markus Naslund powerplay goal, Daniel paid immediate dividends.

He took a Henrik feed along the wall and caught Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff cheating off the post. A well-placed snapshot went off Kiprusoff and in, giving the Canucks a 2-0 lead.

The twins were split up by Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault earlier this month following a three-game stint in which the team scored only three goals.

The move was an immediate success. Vancouver netted 11 goals in its next three games, all wins.

Daniel’s been shifted onto a line with Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows. Henrik has skated mostly with Taylor Pyatt and one other winger. (On Tuesday, that winger was Ryan Shannon. On Wednesday, it was Naslund.)

After being held pointless in his first game on his new line, Daniel has now put together a five-game point streak. He’s racked up three goals and four assists over that span.

Proof that that the new line is working? Sort of.

What’s startling about the seven points Daniel has accumulated over this stretch is that a mere two have come with Kesler and Burrows on the ice. The other five? Well, they’ve been tallied with Henrik riding shotgun.

Following a dry spell in which Daniel didn’t ripple the mesh in 13 games and Henrik didn’t beat a goaltender in 16 of his own, a change needed to be made. Vigneault made it and the result has been a refocused set of twins.

While neither player would ever admit it, they might well have grown complacent taking every shift together since their teens. With Vigneault mixing and matching, the Sedins appear far more motivated when they hit the ice together, almost as though they’re glad to simply see each other again.

Not only have Daniel and Henrik upped their games when they’re together, but the balanced scoring approach has spread to their new lines.

Against the Avs, Henrik set up Taylor Pyatt to give Vancouver a 2-1 lead. And with the Canucks desperate to get back in the game late in the second period, it was Daniel and Burrows teaming up and setting up Sami Salo to make it a 5-3 game.

There was a time in mid-March when it looked like Daniel Sedin might never score again. His confidence was clearly shaken. But with his renewed focus and suddenly-hot hand, Northwest Division goaltenders might once again be quivering in their boots.  

2 – Quick goals have been Vancouver’s undoing the last two nights. On Tuesday, two tallies in 41 seconds did them in. On Wednesday, two goals, first in 73 seconds, then two more in 62 seconds, finished off the Canucks.

3 – Regulation losses in a row for Vancouver for the first time this season. The Canucks had been the only NHL team not to drop three straight contests coming in.

5 – Consecutive wins for Colorado against Vancouver. The Avs have outscored the Canucks 20-7 over that span.

9 – Points combined for the line of Peter Forsberg, Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny.

26 – Consecutive starts for Roberto Luongo, who was pulled after giving up five goals on 23 shots.

The offense wasn’t really a problem. Vancouver generated three goals and had a number of scoring chances. Taylor Pyatt, in particular, had a very strong night.

This should go down as the sloppiest game the defense has played all season. There were breakdowns galore. Miscommunication between Edler and Weaver led to the third Colorado goal. A bad pinch from Salo led to the fourth. And an inability to clear the zone by Bieksa led to the fifth. And those are just the ones that went in.

The PP was technically 0-for-4 but the Daniel goal was, essentially, a powerplay marker. The PK was only called to duty twice but did give up the big first goal of the game.
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