Eight games into the season and the Vancouver Canucks, to many a Stanley Cup favorite before the first puck dropped earlier this month, are 3-3-2.Daniel Sedin
said Monday on NHL Live! that he thinks the team is heading in the right direction after a 5-1 win against Minnesota last Friday. The Canucks host Colorado on Tuesday, their only game this week.
"We have a lot of new guys that came in this season and it's going to take time to get everyone on the same page," Sedin said on the show. "It's been up and down, but I think we're on the right track."
Sedin certainly has been on the right track, with team-highs of 7 goals and 11 points. Only Steven Stamkos has more points (15), and only Stamkos and Marian Hossa have more goals, with 8.
Not surprisingly, Sedin's twin brother, Canucks captain and Hart Trophy winner Henrik Sedin
, has assists on six of Daniel's goals this season, including five primary assists.
Daniel said nothing has changed as far as Henrik's role on the team despite the fact that he now wears the captain's "C" on his sweater.
"He's always been a leader on this team, so for him having a 'C' or not doesn't really change anything," Daniel said. "He's still the same guy and he acts the same way, so it's no different."
What is different -- or rather, what's supposed to be different -- is the Canucks' core defense, which now includes Dan Hamhuis
and Keith Ballard
. However, both of Vancouver's major offseason acquisitions have been hampered by injuries this season.
Ballard has sat out the last four games with concussion-like symptoms after taking a hit from Kings forward Brad Richardson on Oct. 15.
"You never know with concussions," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault told the Vancouver Sun. "Until the player is totally symptom-free, there's a protocol that they have to go through and he's still not symptom-free."
Hamhuis has missed three straight games with a foot injury that likely will force him out of Tuesday's game against Colorado, as well. Vigneault told the Sun that it's not a fracture, but it is "very painful for him right now. So hopefully, by keeping him off for two or three days here, he will be fine to go after Tuesday."
Those injuries have made the Canucks' early-season adjustments harder. Manny Malhotra
, Raffi Torres, Jeff Tambellini, Peter Schaefer and Ryan Parent
were not with the team last season, either.
Tambellini played with the Sedin twins against Minnesota last Friday and had a goal. But according to the Vancouver Sun, Alexandre Burrows
, normally the other wing opposite the Sedin twins, has been cleared for contact after having offseason shoulder surgery and hopes to return Nov. 2 at Edmonton.
"We have a good group here, a good core group, and for guys coming in that makes it easier for them," Daniel Sedin
said. "The new guys we have this year, they're all great guys so it's been really easy to get them into the group and playing the way we play. That's not a problem for us."
The bigger news item that the Canucks have been dealing with is the Rick Rypien fan altercation and subsequent six-game suspension. Rypien already has sat out two games and Daniel said the team is dealing with it as best as they can.
"I think it was tougher for Ryp, but we tried to support him as much as we could," Daniel said. "Now he's got his suspension and he's dealing with it. For the team it's not a big issue. We come to the rink and try to play as hard as we can and hope we get some wins."