Canucks-Maple Leafs Preview

While the Vancouver Canucks already have one of the most dynamic

duos in the NHL with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, the return of the

club’s leading goal scorer from last season should make them even

more difficult to defend.

Teams haven’t had much of a problem slowing down the Toronto

Maple Leafs lately.

With forward Alex Burrows looking to build off his first points

of the season, the visiting Canucks go for their eighth win in nine

games Saturday as they try to hand the Maple Leafs an eighth

straight loss.

The Sedin twins, who lead Vancouver (9-4-2) with 18 points

apiece, played alongside Burrows on the top line for the majority

of last season, but the winger was unable to play until last week

following offseason shoulder surgery.

In his fifth game back, Burrows had a goal and an assist in

Thursday’s 6-2 victory at Ottawa. His four games without a point

matched his longest drought from last season, when he set career

highs with 35 goals and 32 assists.

“(Having Burrows back) has a trickle-down effect on the whole

team,” said Henrik Sedin, the reigning MVP and scoring champion who

is among the league leaders with 16 assists. “If he can play with

us, you’ve got the second line together and you’ve got a third line

that has been really effective for us, and if you can keep them

together, too, it’s tough for teams to match up against us.”

Teams have been lining up to get a crack at the Maple Leafs

(5-7-3), outscored 21-9 during an 0-5-2 skid.

It’s Toronto’s worst stretch since opening last season

0-7-1.

“We’re confident we can get out of it, but I don’t think we’re

really confident with the puck right now,” coach Ron Wilson said

following Thursday’s practice. “… Sometimes you carpet bomb the

other team and hope for a break. That’s the point we’re at right

now.”

The Maple Leafs, though, are among the lowest in the NHL with

27.7 shots per game. Toronto’s top two scorers – Clarke MacArthur

and Phil Kessel – have two goals on 40 shots over the last eight

games.

Following Wednesday’s 4-1 loss at Florida, Wilson has decided to

mix up his lines, putting Kessel alongside Nikolai Kulemin and

Mikhail Grabovski, while sticking MacArthur with Tyler Bozak and

Kris Versteeg.

Trying to avoid their first four-game skid at Air Canada Centre

since losing their first six there last season, the Maple Leafs

need to improve on a power play that is 3 for 40 over the last 10

games.

Vancouver has killed 25 of 27 power-play chances during its last

nine contests.

The Canucks rank among the league’s best with the man advantage

at 26.8 percent, but they are 0 for 5 over the last two games. That

could improve against a Toronto club that’s allowed seven

power-play goals in five games this month, and Vancouver has still

averaged 3.9 goals while winning seven of eight.

Continuing a season-high five-game road trip, Vancouver will go

for its fourth consecutive victory in Toronto and sixth straight in

this series dating to Nov. 24, 2003. In the teams’ last matchup,

Burrows had two goals and a career-high four points while the

Sedins combined for three goals and two assists in a 5-3 road

victory Jan. 30.

Kessel scored twice in that game, but he enters Saturday having

failed to record a point in seven straight.

Roberto Luongo was benched in that last meeting in Toronto, but

he’s 5-1-0 with a 2.35 goals-against average there.