Sedins get switched up

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

They've been teammates for life and linemates before even getting to the NHL. As twins, Henrik and Daniel Sedin always had someone to play with.

Yet heading into last night's game against the Edmonton Oilers, the dynamic duo were split up and started on different lines.

"I don't know which one I'm breaking up. They both look alike," said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. "They're really good when they're together, but they can also function separately. They went through a challenging stretch there, but they're back on top of their game, so they'll be fine."

The Sedin twins have always been a package deal. Opponents still have difficulties telling them apart. They not only look the same, dress the same, have the same haircut and trim their beards in the same fashion, but they have practically identical numbers this season.

Henrik leads the Canucks in scoring with 68 points. Daniel is second with 67.

"It's probably an adjustment for them not to be playing together," said Canucks veteran Trevor Linden. "Because they've had that same way of thinking and are able to read off one another, which is what makes them so good.

"In you're career you always have guys that you can identify with, but they have that natural bond of being brothers."

Vigneault split up the pair earlier this week in the hopes of spreading the offence.

"Sometimes it's strange, you look over and he (Henrik) is not there where he's usually supposed to be," said Daniel.

"But playing with (Ryan) Kesler and (Alex) Burrows it's pretty easy, because they're good skaters and they're really smart so it makes it a lot easier for me."

The Sedins have been with the Canucks for seven seasons. Daniel was Vancouver's first pick - second overall - in the 1999 Entry Draft, while Henrik was their second - third overall - in the same year. Getting both of them was in itself an accomplishment for then GM Brian Burke who did plenty of wheeling and dealing prior to that draft.

"We were talking about that a little while ago, about what the chances would be of them both playing on the same National Hockey League team," Linden said.

"When you think they were both going to be top five picks, it would seem that it would be impossible both would be going to the same team. Now the way things have gone the last seven years, you would never imagine them not being on the same team. But what would have happened to them had they not been on the same team. Where would they be?"

It's a question the Canucks are happy not to have to answer. For now the separation anxiety is limited to them playing on different lines - although they're still together on the power play.

"Like I've said before, they're twins but they play like triplets," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "It's just a synergy that they've had since they got into the league.

"But now that they're playing apart, it just gives them a bit more balance throughout their lineup."

A Sedin on the ice practically every other shift, makes sending out an exclusive defensive pairing to stop them impossible. It also forces the Oilers to use more than one line against them.

"I've never played against them when they haven't been together," said Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid. "I don't think it really matters. They are really good players who are really offensively strong. It's tough to defend them, you have to protect the front of the net whenever they're on the ice. "I think if I had a choice I would rather play them separately, because together they're really strong."

Traditionally, the Sedins have had their way with the Oilers. Henrik went into last night's contest with nine points against the Oilers this season in six games. Daniel, meanwhile, is averaging a point per game. Through their careers, the Sedin twins have combined for 73 points in 43 games. "When they're together they know exactly where each other are," said Oilers defenceman Tom Gilbert. "I think it's a threat either way. They're dangerous whenever they're on the ice, whether it be on separate lines or together."


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