Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Henrik not worried about goal drought

Categories: Nashville Predators, VAN vs. NSH, Vancouver Canucks

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Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault, centre, said he's not bothered by all the tight games his team is playing, a problem that could perhaps be alleviated with more goals from Henrik Sedin. (Rich Lam/Getty Images) Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault, centre, said he's not bothered by all the tight games his team is playing, a problem that could perhaps be alleviated with more goals from Henrik Sedin. (Rich Lam/Getty Images)
By Tim Wharnsby, CBC Sports

Henrik Sedin is the playmaker, and his brother Daniel Sedin is the sniper.

So should there be a concern that Henrik, the Vancouver Canucks' top centre, hasn't scored a goal in eight playoff games this spring, and has now gone 10 post-season games without a goal, dating back to Game 4 of the second round last year?

Henrik wasn't worried before Game 2 of the Canucks' second-round series against the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

"No, not at all," he said. "As long as you win games you don't worry about it."

Even though Daniel has 92 more regular-season goals than his twin, you may be surprised to learn that Henrik has kept up with his brother in the goal-scoring department in the playoffs. Daniel, who has scored five times in eight games these playoffs, has scored 19 career post-season goals to his brother's 17.

With Henrik not scoring and 40-goal man Ryan Kesler also goal-less in these playoffs, the lack of offence has made for some tight games for the Canucks. Of their five victories, four have been one-goal outcomes, and the only other victory was a 2-0 win in the series opener against the Chicago Blackhawks last round.

But while the closeness of the games is difficult on the fans' nerves, it's the final outcome that matters to Canucks coach Alain Vigneault.

"You look around the league and how close the games have been, that's playoff hockey," Vigneault said.

A story of perseverance

Of the six age-30-or-older players on the Predators roster, nobody has played fewer NHL games than first-line right wing Joel Ward.

That's because the 30-year-old from North York, Ont., didn't get a pro contract until after four seasons of junior with the Owen Sound Attack and four more years at the University of Prince Edward Island. With a sociology degree in hand, Ward finally landed a free-agent contract with the Minnesota Wild. But it has been with the Predators that he has made his mark.

"People develop at different rates," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "Not everybody is going to be ready at 18 or 19. [Canadian university], that calibre of hockey is great hockey."

Trotz should know. He was an assistant coach at the University of Manitoba when Mike Ridley made the jump straight from Canadian university hockey to the New York Rangers back in the mid-1980s.

Ward is a solid, hard-working forward who excels along the boards. When he played in Owen Sound he succeeded the late Dan Snyder as captain, and after his first year at UPEI, Ward was invited to try out at the 2002 Detroit Red Wings training camp.

What makes Ward's story even more unique is that his father, Randall, passed away from a stroke while watching his son in a minor hockey game 16 years ago. When the Predators had a father-son road trip last season, Ward took his billet from his Owen Sound days, Rodger Minard, because he was the man who helped Ward get over his homesickness as a 17-year-old to enable him to stick with it and follow his long and winding path to the NHL.

Odds and ends

One area in which the Predators want to be better in Game 2 is face-offs. The Canucks won 40 of 66 draws in the series opener ... Canucks defenceman Sami Salo, listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, skated on his own Saturday. It was believed to be his first time on the ice since leaving Game 6 of the previous series with a suspected leg injury midway through the first period.