Posted March 22, 2012 on AP on Fox
Despite struggling in recent weeks, the Vancouver Canucks still hold a comfortable lead atop the Northwest Division. They may struggle even more if they're forced to play without Daniel Sedin. With Sedin's status uncertain, the Canucks will try to cool off the surging Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on Thursday night. Vancouver (43-21-9) has stumbled to a 3-5-3 mark since Feb. 26, but still has a comfortable 10-point cushion over Colorado in the Northwest and trails St. Louis by five points for the top spot in the Western Conference. Now, the Canucks may have other concerns. Sedin, who has a team-high 30 goals, left Wednesday's 2-1 overtime loss at Chicago after taking an elbow to the head in the first period. "Everybody saw the head shot there, so (Sedin will be) re-evaluated (Thursday) and I'll know more from there,'' coach Alain Vigneault said. Vigneault called the hit a "deliberate, principal point of contact, everything you're trying to take out of the game." The Canucks, who have lost four of five (1-3-1), got off to a promising start against the Blackhawks after Jannik Hansen scored 27 seconds in, but Chicago tied the game early in the second period and scored the winner 2:42 into the extra session. Vancouver likely can't afford to be without Sedin for too long. Even with him, the Canucks have scored two or fewer goals eight times in their last 12 games. They are also receiving inconsistent play in net from Roberto Luongo, who suffered his fourth straight loss Wednesday. He has given up 17 goals in five starts since his last win March 1. Luongo has lost both of his starts against the Stars this season, giving up seven goals on 56 shots. With Luongo slumping, Vancouver could turn Thursday to Cory Schneider, who is 2-1-0 with a 1.35 lifetime goals-against average versus the Stars, with all three starts coming in Dallas. Whomever starts in net will face a strong Dallas team. The Stars (40-28-5) are 11-2-1 in their last 14, and with just a one-point lead over Los Angeles and Phoenix in the competitive Pacific, each game looms large for them. Though they currently hold the third seed in the conference, if they fell behind both the Kings and Coyotes they'd be out of a playoff spot. Dallas avoided a third straight loss Tuesday thanks to a 4-3 shootout win at over the visiting Coyotes. Mike Ribeiro, who also had three assists, scored the only goal of the tiebreaker after the Stars failed to protect a 3-1 lead in regulation. Michael Ryder had two goals and an assist during regulation while Loui Eriksson added a goal and two assists. Dallas has won both meetings with the Canucks this season including a 5-2 victory in Vancouver on March 6, but won't take the Northwest leaders lightly. "We're going to have to be sharp and a lot cleaner than we were against Phoenix," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "For Phoenix not being known as a heavy scoring team, they capitalized on what we gave them. If we do the same thing to Vancouver, they'll do the same thing." Stars left wing Jamie Benn expects to play after he took an elbow to the head from the Coyotes' Shane Doan on Tuesday, earning Doan a three-game suspension from the NHL. "Everyone's looking to get into the playoffs and they are keying on guys to shut them down," Benn, who is tied for second on the team with 57 points, said Wednesday. "I had an X on my back last night, but I'll take that if they're going to leave our top line alone." Backup Richard Bachman started the win over Vancouver earlier this month, but Kari Lehtonen has started the last two games for the Stars and had 27 saves through overtime Tuesday. Then again, Lehtonen has had a tough time versus the Canucks in his career, losing five of seven starts with a 3.79 GAA.

Daniel Sedin hits Ducan Keith in head

Last night there was a lot of outrage about Blackhawks defensemen Duncan Keith's hit on Canucks forward Daniel Sedin. What I didn't see was a lot of outrage about Daniel Sedins hit on Duncan Keith, and both hits are bad. Being consistent, I think you can see that both players "could be" required to sit a game or two, both hits are bad and unnecessary. I also...

Elbow forces Canucks' Daniel Sedin out of game

Vancouver Canucks left wing Daniel Sedin left Wednesday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first period. Sedin exited the contest shortly after he was elbowed in the head by Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith. Although he played on a subsequent power play, Sedin did not return to the game. Earlier in the period, Sedin had hit Keith in the head with his shoulder. ...

Duncan Keith Suspended Five Games For Hit On Sedin

<a href="" class="moshare-button-21" data-message="The NHL Department of Player Safety suspended Blackhawks defenseman, Duncan Keith, for five games following a nasty elbow to the head of Canucks forward Daniel Sedin. While Keith is a key player in the Blackhawks lineup, Daniel Sedin (out indefinitely) leads the Canucks...

Canucks, without Sedin, beat Stars

Cory Schneider made 25 saves and stopped a penalty shot, Mason Raymond scored early in the first period and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Dallas Stars 2-1 on Thursday night. The Canucks were without Daniel Sedin, the team leader with 30 goals, sidelined indefinitely because of a head injury. Sedin is back in Vancouver after taking an elbow to the head from Chicago's Duncan...

Duncan Keith suspended 5 games for elbow on Daniel Sedin

Duncan Keith has been suspended five games for his elbow on Daniel Sedin during the first period of Wednesday's game between the Canucks and Blackhawks. The hit occurred 13:36 into the game and Keith was given a minor penalty for for elbowing. Daniel Sedin is now out indefinitely with a head injury. The injury could not come at a worse time for the Canucks as the playoffs are...

Blackhawks defenseman Keith suspended 5 games

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith was suspended for five games without pay by the NHL on Friday for elbowing Vancouver star Daniel Sedin in the head. Keith lunged at Sedin in the neutral zone in the first period of Chicago's 2-1 overtime victory Wednesday night, hitting Sedin in the head. Sedin didn't have the puck at the time. Keith was given a minor penalty for...

Duncan Keith's hit on Daniel Sedin

With Shane Doan getting suspended for three games for elbowing Jamie Benn in the face, you've got to think that the Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith is going to get a game or two suspension for taking out the Canucks star forward Daniel Sedin with this high elbow to the head. These types of dirty hits are not acceptable and the NHL needs to be more proactive in removing...

The Hypocrisy Of The Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks want the NHL to throw the book at Duncan Keith for his hit on Daniel Sedin on Wednesday night. Ironic, isn’t it, that an organization that has taken more cheap/dirty hits than any in the league in … Continue reading →

John Jaeckel: "Reckless And Dangerous"

Follow me @jaeckel Defying the predictions of all but the most partisan observers, NHL Discipline has handed down a five-game suspension for Duncan Keith. Head of Discipline Brendan Shanahan termed Keith's hit to Daniel Sedin's head "reckless and dangerous." I buy levying a suspension for what was clearly a retaliatory and dangerous hit. I can even see...

Video-Duncan Keith With The Elbow To The Head Of Daniel Sedin

Keith received two for elbowing.

Canucks-Blackhawks Preview

The Vancouver Canucks might have a firm grasp on the second seed in the Western Conference, but they are having a hard time building momentum heading into the playoffs. Looking to bounce back from their latest defeat, the Canucks face another difficult challenge Wednesday night when they visit a Chicago Blackhawks team trying to match a season high with its fifth consecutive victory...
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