Can the Sedin twins add some fire to the offense?
CHICAGO -- The Vancouver Canucks would like nothing more than a twin-engine boost Monday night to salvage their season against the Chicago Blackhawks (9 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).|
After seeing Mats Sundin finally spring to life despite a 4-2 loss in Game 5, now's as good a time as any for twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin to exhibit some of the pizzazz that fans were so accustomed to throughout the regular season.
Chicago, which enters the game holding a 3-2 lead in this best-of 7 series, moved one win away from its first conference finals appearance since 1995 following a 4-2 win Saturday in Vancouver.
There's no denying the fact Daniel Sedin, long considered the goal-scorer of the two, has struggled. He led the team with 31 goals in the regular season, but hasn't scored since the third game of Vancouver's sweep of St. Louis in the first round. He has three assists in five games against Chicago.
"It's a due or die situation and we think we have to be better," Daniel Sedin said. "We did a good job in the first three games of this series, but they adjusted and now we have to make some adjustments to get the win. I feel I'm getting close (to a breakout game). You just have to play smart and be sharp because (Chicago) doesn't allow a lot of chances."
Henrik, the playmaker of the two, has 3 goals and 5 points in the series. One adjustment made by Canucks coach Alain Vigneault midway through Game 5 was replacing Alex Burrows with Sundin on the Sedin line. The move came after the Sedin's and Burrows were unable to generate any sustained offensive on Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin at even strength -- a further indication of how well Chicago's defense has played in this series.
Burrows, who scored a career-high 28 goals this season, has one assist, a minus-1 rating and 14 penalty minutes in five games against the Hawks. He's just one of the players Vigneault would like to see turn it up a notch.
"I haven't put the list in order yet, but I do believe there's a list there and the guys know that," Vigneault said. "When I say they haven't reached that next level, I'm referring to the level they reached against St. Louis in the opening round. I don't think it's for a lack of will or preparation; it's just they've slipped a little bit but there's still time to find it."
Vigneault wants to see his star players shine in the big games -- and none will come any bigger than Game 6.
"It's no secret that the teams that have success are the ones whose players are able to get to the next level and I think we have quite a few players that still have the ability to get to that next level," Vigneault said. "Our players need to be better and I think there's an opportunity here for our group to prove we can get it done. I think there's pressure on both teams because I don't think they want to come back to Vancouver and there's pressure on us to pursue our season."
Vigneault was noncommittal on the Sedins and Sundin staying together.
"They (Sundin and the Sedin twins) had their moments in Game 5 and that's probably the best way to describe it," he said. "You'll have to wait until game time to find out the lineups."
Said Daniel Sedin: "Mats is a world-class player and it was fun to play with him. We'll see if we get another chance (on Monday)."
Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell said Burrows and Sundin each bring a different element alongside the twins.
"Burrows is a smaller guy and Mats is bigger and can really hold onto pucks," Campbell said. "So, with Mats there, you have three big guys hanging on to pucks on the cycle. You also have a left-handed shot (Burrows) versus a right-handed shot (Sundin), so you have to be aware of that; it's a matter of reading and reacting."