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Different Stars

by Jeff Paterson / Vancouver Canucks
When the National Hockey League shutdown for its annual mid-season showcase six weeks ago, Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows were, quite literally, headed in opposite directions.

Henrik, the Canucks scoring leader at the time, was on his way to the All-Star game in Atlanta to strut his stuff with the best in the business while Burrows, merely a pest at the time, hit the highway and headed to Whistler for a few days.

In the 19 games since the break, however, Alex Burrows and Henrik Sedin have been virtually inseparable – at least as far as putting up points is concerned. In those 19 games since the All-Star weekend, Burrows has six goals and eight assists which leaves him just one point off Henrik’s pace (4+11=15) during that same stretch.

Jeff Paterson is a Team 1040 broadcaster and a regular contributor to the Georgia Straight.

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Yes, you read that correctly. The same Alex Burrows who had 15 points in the team’s first 50 games of the season has nearly matched that output in his last 19 contests.

Never before in Burrows’ career at any level of professional hockey – and the Pointe-Claire, Quebec native has seen them all – has he been on such an offensive hot streak. And as much as he’s found a scoring touch and a knack for big goals recently, the real revelation has come in the past two games where his playmaking clearly demonstrates the confidence with which he’s playing right now.

On Saturday night, it was the terrific no-look pass to Brad Isbister for the game winning goal against St. Louis. And it wasn’t so much the deft pass, but the fact he had the wherewithal to make it with five minutes left in a tie hockey game.

Monday in Los Angeles, Burrows was at it again. With the puck on his stick on the sideboards in overtime and being watched by a pair of Kings defenders, Burrows had options. The ‘old’ Alex Burrows would have likely just chipped the puck to the corner or tried to steer it in behind the net.

The ‘new’ Alex Burrows, though, he had the puck on his stick and the game in his hands. He neatly ducked away from the checks of Dustin Brown and Mike Cammalleri, then cruised to the high slot and drew Anze Kopitar to him (the Kings were going with three forwards and a defenseman in overtime) before sliding the puck back to Willie Mitchell at the right point.

The rest is history.

The Canucks won their third in a row and to the surprise of no one now – at least no one who has followed the Canucks lately -- Alex Burrows had his third straight two-point night. He’s had a hand in four of the past five goals the Canucks have scored and has two goals and four assists in his last three outings.

And as much fun as it’s been to watch the offensive awakening of a player like Burrows in the past six weeks, the equally impressive thing has been that his offensive has not come at the expense of his primary duty which remains shutting down the other team’s best players.

On top of the goals and the pretty assists that Burrows has amassed since the break, he’s also seen his plus-minus skyrocket in that time from +1 to +11 which is fourth best on the team behind the Sedins and Sami Salo.

For much of the year, the Canucks have been questioned about their secondary scoring. But at the pace Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler are going right now, they seem to have shaken the label of secondary scorers and given the Canucks a pair of primary scoring combinations.

It has always been tough to distinguish Daniel from Henrik Sedin, but, honestly, who ever thought it would be tough tell the difference between Henrik and Alex Burrows?

Canucks record 9-5-5 (23 points in 19 games)
Daniel Sedin 17
Henrik Sedin 15
Alex Burrows 14
Ryan Kesler 12
Markus Naslund 10
Mason Raymond 9
Ryan Shannon 9
Ryan Kesler 7
Alex Burrows 6
Markus Naslund 6
Alex Edler 6
Daniel Sedin 4
Henrik Sedin 4
Mason Raymond 4
Sami Salo 4
Daniel Sedin 13
Henrik Sedin 11
Alex Burrows 8
Mattias Ohlund 8
Sami Salo 7
Ryan Shannon 6
Taylor Pyatt 6
Alex Burrows +10
Sami Salo +7
Ryan Shannon +7
Willie Mitchell +4
Ryan Kesler +3
Taylor Pyatt +3
Mason Raymond +1
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