By Jeff Paterson
It was suggested in this column earlier in the week that if the Canucks were going to find a way to beat the Minnesota Wild, they'd need production from their 'Fantastic Four' - Daniel and Henrik Sedin
, Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison.
That group had been held without a goal in the first five run-ins of the year with the Wild and for the most part had been held in check offensively.
Lo and behold, Markus Naslund opened the scoring at the Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday night and Daniel Sedin
silenced the rowdy fans in the Twin Cities moments after the Wild had evened the game at 1-1 (it only makes sense the Sedins would figure in the scoring in a game played in Minneapolis/St. Paul).
And on top of that Brendan Morrison picked up his first two points of the year against the Wild including an assist on Sami Salo
's overtime game winner.
That goal by Salo ended a run of seven straight Canuck goals scored by someone named Daniel, Markus or Brendan. And going back to the Canucks' 5-3 win Edmonton on February 6th, those three have now scored nine of the team's last 11 goals and nine of the last 10 scored by forwards.
The play of the Canucks' top forwards is one of the main reasons this team has won four of its last six games and is 5-2-2 since the All-Star break. Since the break, Daniel Sedin
leads the hockey team in goals and points with 7+4=11. But he's followed closely by Naslund 4+6=10, Morrison 3+6=9 and Henrik 2+7=9.
You do that math - that's 40 points from the Canucks top four point producers in nine games since the All-Star break. When those players are racking up points, it only stands to reason the team will produce points in the standings as well. That's why after Wednesday's win in Minnesota, the Canucks were back atop the Northwest Division if only by percentage points over Calgary and just one point up on the Wild.
With their 11 goals (Daniel 5, Naslund 4, Morrison 2) in February, that trio has already eclipsed its collective output for both November and January (when they combined for 10 goals in each) and they're only today at the midway mark of the month. And it would seem almost certain that those three are headed for their biggest offensive total since opening the season with 15 goals in the month of October.
Really, this is the first time all year the Canucks have had the three veteran scorers and leaders all going at the same time - and it seems it's been worth the wait. Most teams in the league have a top line that's hard to defend, but only a few have two truly effective lines that require constant attention. Right now, there is no question the Canucks have two lines going and the results speak for themselves.
With their combined five points on Wednesday night, Daniel and Henrik Sedin
along with Naslund and Morrison have now registered 13+17=30 in the club's five victories since the All-Star break.
And Brendan Morrison whose numbers haven't been where he'd like them for much of the year is playing his best hockey of the season. In fact, the numbers suggest he's playing his best hockey in over a year. Saturday's two goal performance against Atlanta followed by Wednesday's two assist effort in Minnesota marked the first time since December 21 and 23, 2005 - more than 13 months - since the pride of Pitt Meadows had recorded consecutive multiple point games.
We'll see if he can add to the streak and make it three straight games when the Canucks roll into Chicago on Friday. And you certainly won't have to remind the Sedins, Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison what happened last week when they faced the Hawks.
Jeff Paterson is a Team 1040 broadcaster and a regular contributor to the Georgia Straight. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org