ROLE PLAY­ERS

Sedin twins un­der­stand Canucks guard is chang­ing

24 Hours Vancouver - - SPORTS - BEN KUZMA

Hen­rik and Daniel Sedin have al­ways em­braced their roles.

In the past, there were more min­utes, more re­spon­si­bil­ity and the ex­pec­ta­tion of be­ing the dif­fer­ence on most nights for the Van­cou­ver Canucks. That’s easy to ac­cept. In the present, it means mea­sured min­utes, sec­ondary de­ploy­ment and con­tribut­ing when they can as ra­tio­nal, team-first 37-year-old sup­port for­wards.

That could be harder to ac­cept, but a chang­ing of the guard is what the Sedins have been preach­ing for longer than most re­al­ize.

They un­der­stand what’s at play. The tran­si­tional state of the fran­chise is eas­ier to fathom in the twilight of their ca­reers — and on ex­pir­ing con­tracts — be­cause of the light­ning speed in the game and how quickly youth is im­pact­ing NHL ros­ters. That isn’t lost on them.

Hen­rik logged just 13:30 in a sea­son-open­ing 3-2 win over the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers on Satur­day — in­clud­ing 7:49 at even strength — while Daniel played 14:02 and 7:55 at even strength. A year ago in the sea­son-opener, Hen­rik logged 21:48 and av­er­aged 19:02 for the sea­son while Daniel played 22:18 and av­er­aged 18:23.

What will this mean Tues­day against the Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors?

Canucks head coach Travis Green cau­tioned to not read too much into the Sedins’ ice time be­cause they could play more, but the twins know less ice may mean more pro­duc­tion be­cause they’ll be fresher.

“I did not go into the (Satur­day) game think­ing a player is go­ing to play this many min­utes,” said Green. “I want a fourline team where min­utes are spread out. There could be nights where they (Sedins) play 18 min­utes and nights where they play 14. It’s where the game is at, how they’re play­ing and the score.” Hen­rik gets that. “We’ve al­ways said that (ice time) is not go­ing to be a prob­lem this year — we un­der­stand the sit­u­a­tion and we’re fine with it,” the Canucks cap­tain said Mon­day. “You’re go­ing to see a lot of guys’ ice time go up and down.

“We al­ways want min­utes but we’re old enough to un­der­stand where we are as a team. I don’t think they’re in­ter­ested in us win­ning and play­ing 22

min­utes. That’s not go­ing to be the case and we’re good with it.”

With the Sen­a­tors miss­ing in­jured de­fence­men Erik Karls­son, Ben Hurper and Johnny Oduya — and re­call­ing prospects Thomas Chabot and Chris­tian Jaros — the Sedins could draw more favourable de­fen­sive pair­ings and do their thing be­cause they’re still ef­fec­tive once they have the puck. Puck re­trieval is some­thing else.

“We beat a re­ally good team (Satur­day) and if we were down, maybe we would have played a few more min­utes,” added Hen­rik. “And we’re not sur­prised. We’ve been pre­par­ing for this for a few years.” bkuzma@post­media.

com

GETTY IM­AGES FILE

Daniel and Hen­rik Sedin didn’t see a ton of ice­time in Canucks sea­sonopener, and they’re OK with that.

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