Canucks vs. Maple Leafs Preview
TORONTO, Ont. - 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.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGlobal.com have made the Canucks –140 money line favorites in Saturday's game against the Maple Leafs. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 54% of more than 57 bets for this game have been placed on the Maple Leafs +129.
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.