VANCOUVER – Struggling to score, the Vancouver Canucks appear ready to shake up their forwards against the Dallas Stars on Sunday, breaking up their loaded top line in favor of more balance.
Ryan Kesler was moved off the wing of the No.1 line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin in practice Saturday and replaced by Alexandre Burrows, who returns to his old spot without a goal in nine games this season.
"I know how to play with them,” Burrows said of the Sedin twins. “It should be fun, just give them the puck and go to the net.”
Vancouver has scored three goals during its first three-game losing streak of the season, including a 2-1 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night in which they blew a late 1-0 lead.
The chances have been there. The goals have not.
“I'd rather have 35-40 shots and not scoring than 15-20 shots and not scoring," captain Henrik Sedin said. "We're not just throwing pucks at the net. We're getting good shots. … It's going to come.”
If so, it will come through a more balanced attack.
Kesler returned to his more familiar – and 2011 Selke Trophy-winning – role as the second-line center between Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen, who is back after missing 10 games with a shoulder injury. That allowed Mike Santorelli, who had been anchoring the second line, to drop back to the third line between Zack Kassian and David Booth, who will play his second game back from a groin injury and conditioning stint in the American Hockey League.
Daniel Sedin, who hasn’t scored in five games, praised the third and fourth lines, and put the blame on top forwards for the recent funk.
“It’s up to those top players, myself included, to be better,” Daniel said, adding he needs to get back to a shoot-first mentality.
The Stars don’t have any offensive concerns coming off consecutive wins in Alberta, including a 3-0 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday and a 7-3 victory against the Calgary Flames on Thursday in which their top line combined for 13 points. Tyler Seguin had four goals and an assist, Jamie Benn scored once and added five assists, and Valeri Nichushkin added two assists.
In their first year together, the Benn-Seguin duo is already starting to generate a lot of buzz as potential Canadian Olympic team linemates and has been a big part of five straight road wins for the Stars. And despite the attention that came with their big offensive night in Calgary, coach Lindy Ruff said they have been consistent.
“You need your big players to play big on the road,” Ruff said. “The consistency part, the doing it every night part, they’ve been doing that for us.”
Neither team skated Sunday morning in advance of a rare 5 p.m. local start, but here is how the lines looked in practice Saturday:
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Valeri Nichushkin
Erik Cole - Cody Eakin - Alex Chiasson
Shawn Horcoff - Vernon Fiddler - Rich Peverley
Antoine Roussel - Travis Morin - Ryan Garbutt
Brenden Dillon - Stephane Robidas
Alex Goligoski - Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn - Sergei Gonchar
Scratched: Aaron Rome, Lane MacDermid
Injured: Ray Whitney (lower body)
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins – Ryan Kesler – Jannik Hansen
David Booth – Mike Santorelli – Zack Kassian
Tom Sestito – Brad Richardson – Jeremy Welsh
Alexander Edler – Jason Garrison
Dan Hamhuis – Christopher Tanev ?????????
Ryan Stanton – Kevin Bieksa
Scratched: Andrew Alberts, Yannick Weber. Zac Dalpe
Injured: Jordan Schroeder (foot), Dale Weise (knee)