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Slump bumping

by Kyle Harland / Vancouver Canucks
The last time Henrik Sedin notched a goal with the goalie between him and the mesh was February 9th. On Monday night, Hank put that slump to bed. Big time.

The Canucks leading scorer notched a pair of goals, which turned out to be the difference in the eventual 3-1 Canuck win over the Phoenix Coyotes.

His brother Daniel was no slouch either, assisting on both of Henrik’s tallies. It was the first in almost a month – since February 19th to be exact – that the twins each registered multi-point games in the same evening. In the Phoenix win, they combined for four points.

While their numbers over the past weeks have been less than flattering – the two Canucks top scorers have combined for just nine points in their last 12 games – they were due for a big game.

“They’re working as hard as ever, but some nights you’re going through some slumps,” said Markus Naslund. “They’re great guys and they’re great team guys and they’re willing to do what it takes to make it successful.”

Both of Henrik’s goals were scored in tight off of rebounds - the kind of goals the Twins haven't managed to bury in recent weeks.

The first came when he passed to Danny in the slot from behind the net. His brother blasted the puck at Ilya Bryzgalov from in close, while Henrik was already making his way to the slot. Hank picked up the rebound instantly and fired it past the goalie before he could react.

His second goal, scored on the power play, was a beauty. Again, a hard shot from Daniel forced Bryzgalov to let out a rebound near the side of the net. Before the puck hit the ice, Hank swooped in and batted the puck out of mid air from a sharp angle. The angle was such that it would have been challenging to hit the net if the puck were on the ice, but Hank was able to wow any baseball scouts in the crowd with an accurate bunt worthy of a 3-1 lead.

“Well it’s nice,” said Henrik. “We got a few bounces here tonight and the goal there was nice but the whole team played a lot better tonight. So that was key.” Henrik is now just two points away from three consecutive seasons as a 70 point scorer, and his brother Daniel three points away.

Apart from helping their team to victory, the performance will serve as an important confidence booster for the twins, after they’ve come under increasing scrutiny lately for their apparent slump. The same goes for Taylor Pyatt, who scored the team’s other goal by deflecting a shot and popping in his own rebound. The big forward hadn’t scored since January 31.

The coach was making no apologies for the fact that all three goals were scored on the rebound. “All goals were second opportunities – second chances. Shot and rebound, shot and rebound,” said Alain Vigneault after the game. “That’s the way you score in the NHL. Goaltenders are so good and we know that more than any other team in the NHL. It’s tough to beat the goaltender on the first shot.”

Vigneault may have been instrumental in helping the Sedins get on the board, as he split them up for most of the game, as he did Saturday night in Dallas. Daniel was with Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrrows, and the line played extremely well, spending a vast majority of their time in the opponent’s zone. Meanwhile, Hank played on a line with Mason Raymond and Taylor Pyatt.

But whether that was the key to their success is not so black and white. When Daniel was asked whether the twins should be split up regularly, he wasn’t so quick to agree. “I think it’s been working pretty good for the last seven years.” After all, all four Sedin points were created when they were both on the ice together.

What Vigneault does with the twins in the final nine games will be interesting to see. But whether they’re split up or paired together, if they perform like they did tonight, the Canucks will be able to make a serious bid for the Northwest Division title.


4 – Canucks with two point nights: both Sedins, Salo, and Bieksa

10 – combined shots by the Sedins

35 – days since Henrik has scored on a goalie, a slump broken against the Coyotes

45 – days since Pyatt scored his last goal, a slump broken against the Coyotes

28:40 – ice time for Willie Mitchell leading all skaters

Just like in their last game against Dallas, a quick offensive outburst at the start of the game put the Canucks in good stead for the rest of the game. After generating 17 shots in the first period, the offense slowed significantly in the second and third periods, generating just six and five shots respectively, but three goals were enough to secure the win.

The tandem of good defense and good goaltending was too much for the Coyotes. The Canucks blueliners, led by Willie Mitchell, largely played a good game. One error cost them a goal, but the other few defensive errors were mitigated by the play of Roberto Luongo.

The power play was the difference in the game: two goals for the Canucks, and none for the Coyotes. The Canucks were perfect on the kill, deflating all five power plays for the Coyotes. Canucks finished the night 2-for-5.
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