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Training Camp

Loui Eriksson scores twice in Canucks debut

Forward plays with Henrik, Daniel Sedin in preseason game vs. Flames

by Kevin Woodley / Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks forward Loui Eriksson normally would worry more about making his debut with a new team in the second-to-last preseason game. But there's no need to fret about finding chemistry with Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin as his linemates.

Eriksson, who signed a six-year, $36 million contract as a free agent on July 1, scored two goals in his first preseason game with the Canucks against the Calgary Flames on Thursday. He looked very comfortable at right wing in a reunion of a line that played together for Team Sweden at the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

"I just have to get open for [the Sedins] and they will make the pass, and hopefully we can get something good here," Eriksson, 31, said after the 4-0 win.

The Canucks are counting on Eriksson, who scored 30 goals last season with the Boston Bruins, to help boost an offense that had 186 goals, second-fewest in the NHL.

Video: CGY@VAN: Eriksson deflects D. Sedin's shot, pads lead

Coach Willie Desjardins, who worked with Eriksson as an associate coach with the Dallas Stars from 2010-12, expects to move him around to help boost other lines as the season progresses. But his history with the Sedins in international play made starting them together an obvious choice.

"I didn't think they had a great game, but when you are skilled like that line, you can have an average game and still get two or three goals just because they know where the net is and they know how to finish," Desjardins said. "But it was good for Loui to come in and have that kind of start."

Eriksson and the Sedins played together at past Olympics and World Championships, so it was not surprising to see their line remain intact at the World Cup, at even strength and on the top power-play unit. The line clicked quickly in three pretournament games: Eriksson scored three goals, Daniel scored a goal and had two assists, and Henrik had two assists. But Eriksson scored once, into an empty net, during three preliminary-round games and a semifinal loss to Team Europe, and Henrik and Daniel combined for five assists in four games.

"We had a lot of puck possession (at the World Cup)," Henrik said before the game Thursday. "We didn't maybe score as much as we wanted, but overall it felt really good from Day One in training camp. We had chemistry right away."

Eriksson also believes they learned some lessons that can be applied in Vancouver.

"We can take some more shots," he said. "We maybe looked for that extra pass sometimes, so take the puck to the net more. That's somewhere I have to be, around the net and picking up rebounds and maybe that's the key. They are so smart with the puck, they can hold on to it and make good plays but if we take it to the net a little more we'll create more chances."

The Canucks are also counting on Eriksson to create more scoring for a power play that was 27th in the NHL last season (15.8 percent). They were 0-for-2 against the Flames, but Eriksson scored his first goal 16 seconds after their first chance expired.

"We found our spots, we knew where to put pucks, and that's a good feeing to have," Henrik Sedin said. "We had a lot of chances. Those are the plays we want to see, to use more areas of the ice instead of just set up from one side of the ice. Now we can work from both sides of the ice, and that's going to be tough to kill."

Video: CGY@VAN: Eriksson pounces on odd deflection to score

Eriksson scored all three of his goals in pretournament play at the World Cup on the power play, with one of the Sedins earning the primary assist on each. They will be reunited on the top power-play unit in Vancouver but will have a different look, at least for their preseason debut against Calgary.

Instead of working down low off the cycle with his brother, Daniel will start on the left point on the power play, with Henrik working off the right boards and Eriksson and Brandon Sutter in front of the net. Henrik envisions the right-handed Sutter as more of a shooting threat in the slot than Daniel was last season, forcing teams to cover him more closely, and sees Eriksson alternating between the front of the net and as a playmaker below the goal line. The key will be having more dynamic puck movement and player movement.

"Last year, when we were struggling, we became a little stagnant," Henrik said. "We weren't really moving the puck or moving people. It came with not having people in the right spots."

Eriksson likes how the new-look power play has clicked in practice this week.

"I think it could be good," he said. "We have all the players in the right spots."

The Canucks are counting on that, including Eriksson with the Sedins.

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