Naslund eyeing playoffs as a fresh start

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Sometimes a slump is so strong you can't even score in practice.

That's how badly things have become for Markus Naslund.

The Vancouver Canucks captain let out a loud groan as his attempt fluttered past goalie Roberto Luongo's net during yesterday's morning skate but was still wearing a smile in the dressing room.

Being in the driver's seat for the Northwest Division title outweighs the pain of a season during which Naslund's point production has dipped to depths not seen since his first two seasons with the Canucks in the late 1990s.

With 56 points in 77 outings this year, Naslund is on pace for his lowest totals since a 34-point campaign in 1997-98.

He took a 10-game goal drought into last night's contest with the Calgary Flames .

Naslund sees the looming playoffs as a fresh start.

"I would have liked to score more for sure but we're all here to get to the playoffs," he said. "I'm really looking forward to the playoffs starting. It feels like a new season and a new beginning."

The 33-year-old Naslund has seen his countrymen, Henrik and Daniel Sedin, gradually take over the top billing with the Canucks.

"I do have a little bit different role on the team than I used to but I want to be part of a winner," said Naslund.

"The way the Sedin line is playing, they're our go-to line, no doubt about it.

"In the past, the team has relied quite a bit on myself and Todd (Bertuzzi) and Brendan (Morrison) to do the bulk of the scoring."

Forced to change his playing style without the behemoth Todd Bertuzzi manning the right side, Naslund has improved one statistic this season. After a dismal minus-19 rating last year, the 6-ft., 195-pounder is hovering just over the positive line.

"I'm trying to be more of a two-way player and take pride in what we're trying to do as a team -- a hardworking team, a tight team and a tough team to play against," he said.


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