Canucks need slumping Sedins to get on track vs. Coyotes
Daniel, Henrik have combined for 1 assist in last 8 games
After playing so well last month, very little has gone right in March for the Vancouver Canucks and Phoenix Coyotes.
While the Canucks don't have to worry about missing the playoffs like the Coyotes, they have bigger problems. The Sedin twins are slumping mightily and Vancouver, which hosts Phoenix on Wednesday night (10 p.m. ET), needs them to return to all-star form to have a chance of making a Stanley Cup run.
The Canucks (42-19-8) lead the Northwest Division by 14 points — by far the biggest edge of any division leader — but are quickly losing ground to St. Louis in the race for first place in the Western Conference. Vancouver was atop the West on March 5 but has lost three of the first five contests on a seven-game homestand, and is 2-3-2 in its last seven.
Coach Alan Vigneault doesn't have to look too far to figure out why his team is struggling.
"Most concerning for me right now is when our best players aren't our best players on the ice," Vigneault said Saturday after a 4-1 loss to Montreal, owner of the worst record in the East.
Henrik Sedin, the team leader with 53 assists and 66 points, has gone eight games without a point for the first time since Nov. 29-Dec. 20, 2003. Since that drought, the 2009-10 Hart Trophy winner had not gone more than four consecutive contests without a point prior to his current slump.
Although Daniel Sedin has scored a team-best 28 goals to go with 64 points, he has one assist in eight contests and has gone five games without a point for the first time since Oct. 13-21, 2008. He hasn't had a six-game drought since a career-worst 10-game stretch Nov. 29-Dec. 22, 2003.
Henrik Sedin is one scoreless game away from matching a career-worst nine-game drought, set Oct. 13-30, 2001.
"We're confident we're going to get out of this," Henrik said. "It's just a matter of regrouping and getting ready for the stretch drive."
The Canucks, who play eight of their final 13 at Rogers Arena, desperately need both players to do just that.
Vancouver is 33-6-2 when Henrik records a point compared to 9-13-6 when he doesn't. The club is 30-6-3 when Daniel gets a point and 12-12-5 when he fails to do so.
The Coyotes (34-25-11) are opening a four-game road trip after suffering a 5-4 shootout loss to Nashville on Monday. Phoenix, in the mix for first place in the Pacific as well as one of the final West playoff spots, is 1-4-2 this month after going an NHL-best 11-0-1 in February. Vancouver had the league's second-best February record at 9-1-4.
The Coyotes trailed the Predators 4-2 early in the third before Oilver Ekman-Larsson and Raffi Torres scored to send the game to overtime.
"We showed some resilience as a group," captain Shane Doan said. "We had some big goals late in the third and tied it up. It's a big point but obviously no one is happy."
Mike Smith, 1-3-1 with a 2.93 goals-against average in six starts this month, is expected to be in goal Wednesday. He's 1-1-0 with a 2.89 GAA against the Canucks this season.
Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, 2-3-1 with a 3.24 GAA in his last seven starts, has gone 5-2-1 with a 1.47 GAA in his last eight games versus Phoenix.
The Canucks lead the season series 2-0-1.