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Seeing double

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Niklas Kronwall and the Red Wings welcome in a Vancouver Canucks team playing their third game in four nights. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT -- Since the 2000-01 season, the Red Wings have seen plenty of the Sedin twins.

That was the year that Henrik and Daniel Sedin debuted for the Vancouver Canucks and became mainstays in the lineup.

The Red Wings selected Henrik Zetterberg in the same draft, the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, as the Sedins.

Of course, the Sedins went second and third overall while Zetterberg lasted until the 210th pick.

Henrik Sedin left Thursday night's game in Philadelphia with a lower-body injury, putting his status in doubt.

Daniel Sedin can play center, according to Zetterberg.

"He's actually pretty good at face-offs," Zetterberg said. "I think Hank's been kicked out a few times and I've had some battles with Daniel. But I'm pretty sure that Henrik will play tonight."

Zetterberg has been battling the Sedins since he joined the Wings for the 2002-03 season.

"Especially now when we're getting older, we won't see each other that many times, so every time we have the opportunity to plat against each other it's fun," Zetterberg said. "Usually it's good games. Most of the time we get to match up against each other too, so we see each other a lot out there."

Zetterberg has played with the Sedins on Team Sweden.

Gustav Nyquist also had that opportunity in 2014 when he replaced teammate Johan Franzen for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and then at the IIHF World Championship that year.

"That’s kind of when you realize how good they are," Nyquist said. "You see all kinds of different situations when you're on their team and you're playing with them. Playing with them at the Olympics, that was special for sure. They've meant a lot to Swedish hockey. They're big-time Swedish players."

Playing against them is always a challenge.

"Don’t give them much space at all," Nyquist. "If they get even a hair of space they’ll find each other like no one else finds them. I feel like they know where they are at all points of the game. They’re special players because of that. The best way is to be on them hard and don’t give them space to make those plays."

Nyquist alluded to the twin thing, that the Sedins can sense what each other is going to do without even looking.

Joakim Andersson has noticed how they use it to their advantage.

"They are probably my favorite two players to watch nowadays," Andersson said. "They always seem to find each other. They have such a great chemistry. The only two guys I can think of to find each other that good in the last 20 years is probably Hank (Zetterberg) and Pav (Datsyuk) when they play together. It’s fun to watch but you’ve got to be careful. They make those small plays behind their backs and stuff. We’ve got to be ready for give-and-gos."

The Canucks had an interesting statistic in their game notes.

The Sedins have played in 585 wins together. Since 1990-91, the only pairs of teammates who have played in more wins together are Nicklas Lidstrom and Kris Draper at 664 and Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom at 599.

TIRED CANUCKS: The Canucks, who were shut out 2-0 in Philadelphia Thursday night, will be playing their third game in four nights.

Zetterberg said that's not the Wings' focus right now.

"I think we just got to focus on what we are doing," Zetterberg said. "We haven't really been pleased with the way we've been playing lately. Just got to get back on track here. As long as we focus on what we are doing, then we'll be fine."

Wings coach Jeff Blashill still expects a tough game.

"I’ve coached against Willie Desjardins a lot, including playoff series, I have the upmost respect for Willie and the way his teams play," Blashill said. "I know it’s going to be a hard, hard game. We better be ready to play."

SMITH-MARCHENKO WORKING OUT: Tonight will mark Brendan Smith's eighth straight game played, paired with Alexey Marchenko.

"I think Brendan has played very well, I think Marchenko has played very well," Blashill said. "That’s not an indictment on (Jakub) Kindl at all. I think when Kindl has played he’s played well. But we made a decision that players a lot of times are better when they’re playing on a consistent basis, so we just want to go with a consistent group as long as we could."

Smith has one goal and two assists and is plus-3 in 23 games this season.

"I think Smitty’s game management has been really good," Blashill said. "I think he’s taken what’s given. I think he’s made plays when he’s had opportunities to make plays, he can get up in the offense, be real active in the O-zone, he’s an offensive-instinct type player and I think he’s coupled that by making good decisions in his own zone, good decisions in the neutral zone and he’s got a toughness and an edge to him. He punches back when people try to punch you. I think that’s an important part of the team."

Marchenko, who has one assist and is minus-3 in 24 games, is more of a stay-at-home type of defenseman than Smith, making them a good pair.

"Marchy, same thing. Game management has been good," Blashill said. "He’s got a real ability to pass the puck coming out of our zone, he’s actually a very smart offensive player even though he doesn’t produce a lot of points. He produces offense to happen. He allows offense to happen and he’s been real sound defensively. So both of them have played very well."

JURCO HAPPY FOR GRIFFINS: When Tomas Jurco went to Grand Rapids for a conditioning stint with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins, the Griffins were struggling.

The Griffins were 2-9 and falling out of the standings quickly.

Jurco's arrival seemed to spark something as he scored five goals and four assists in five games, all victories.

"When I get there, it was tough for me to believe they had such a bad record before because we were playing pretty good," Jurco said. "They have a good team and good coaching staff. That's what I was expecting before the season so they're right there right now and just got to keep going."

Those five games started a win streak that has extended to a franchise-record 12 games.

"It was a great two weeks for me, a lot of fun, and I was happy to be there," Jurco said. "I'm happy they started winning."

Jurco scored his first goal of the season for the Wings Dec. 8 at Washington but is still looking for more.

"Always I feel it can be way better but I just got to hang in there," Jurco said. "We didn't get a lot of minutes on the fourth line so we got to use the few minutes that we get to play better than we are right now. Just got to earn more ice time by playing good."

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