Sedin's return boosts Canucks

HOSEA CHEUNG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

Daniel Sedin's return this week could come as a catalyst at a critical time for these streaky Canucks.

Back with the team Sunday for the first time in six weeks, the winger already had an effect on his struggling linemate, Alex Burrows, who registered seven shots and was dangerous around Blackhawks' goaltender Antti Niemi all game long.

But while the reunion of the twins helps Vancouver's top trio, Daniel's return should also instill some much-needed consistency into the roster, allowing lines to stay together instead of constantly mixing and matching.

It also gives the team two scoring forward lines again, after having to put Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond with Henrik Sedin as the main unit.

Either way, it could be the key to snapping the Canucks out of their current mediocre funk.

Mired in a Jekyll and Hyde season, Vancouver needs to string together a winning streak - one similar to those Chicago or Nashville have recently compiled - to contend with the best in the West.

They can't count on yet another surreal stretch drive to gain home-ice advantage, or in this case, to make the playoffs.

"That's four real good efforts in a row that we've put in," said coach Alain Vigneault after Sunday's loss. "We've played a lot better than a two-and-two record."

It's too bad "good effort" and "a lot better" doesn't add up to points in the standings.

Currently sitting 11th in the West, Vancouver is only one game above .500 with a 12-11 record for 24 points, and have lost four of their last six.

They've showed tremendous offensive flair at times - in 8-2 and 5-2 wins against the Avs - but have also flopped in certain matchups, losing 6-1 to St. Louis and 7-2 to Anaheim.

Last year's eighth place team, the Ducks, finished nine games above .500 with 91 points and in order for the Canucks to reach that mark, they'll need to win 34 of their last 59 games.

And even then, that's far from a guaranteed playoff spot with the competition level in the conference.

With most of the team healthy for the first time this season, Vancouver can finally show what they are capable of and play to the level that Canucks GM Mike Gillis envisioned when building the team this past summer.

Whether that potential is reached or not, the Canucks will face a more difficult last half of the season if they continue this lose-one-win-one format.


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