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(JOHN LEHMANN/JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
(JOHN LEHMANN/JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Canucks shoot themselves in the foot Add to ...

The Sedin twins stood there and heaped blame on their own shoulders, while Ryan Kesler did the same through a quivering lip.

Throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Vancouver Canucks were winning despite a disturbing trend with their best offensive players. Whether it was Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who struggled in a second-round series against the Nashville Predators, or Kesler, who was not offensively inclined in an opening-round win over the Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver's best players took turns going through slumps.

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In the Cup final, they all suffered outages, scoring just eight goals in seven games and getting shut out twice. The NHL's best and highest-scoring team in the regular season was beaten 4-0 in Game 7 Wednesday and lost the series to the Boston Bruins despite winning the first two games.

The Cup slipped through the Canucks' fingers because Kesler and the Sedins couldn't score. That, as much as goaltender Roberto Luongo's struggles, will be the legacy of this near championship miss.

"We couldn't beat [Tim]Thomas, it had nothing to do with Luongo," captain Henrik Sedin said. "It's up to the offensive guys, and that's me and Danny foremost. We couldn't get it done."

Henrik Sedin, the league's reigning most valuable player, had just one goal, and it came in garbage time of Game 6, with the Bruins ahead by four goals. Daniel Sedin, the NHL scoring champion in 2010-11, had one goal and three assists, although two points came after Game 6 had been settled.

The twins, along with winger Alex Burrows, made their mark on just one contest. In Game 2, they were splendid, and led Vancouver to a 3-2 overtime victory, with Burrows tallying the winner. Asked if he was battling through an injury, Henrik Sedin replied with two words: "Scoring slump."

Kesler, meanwhile, was playing through an injury he refused to acknowledge and wasn't nearly the all-world player that dominated the series against Nashville. He had just one assist in the Cup final.

"I'm a leader on this team, and I did everything I possibly could today," Kesler said. "I can hold my head up high, but it definitely hurts right now."

It was similar to his series against Chicago, when he tallied just four assists. The Sedins combined for just seven points against the Predators.

Wednesday, all three players had excellent chances but none were able to solve Thomas, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner who was the difference in the Cup final. He made 798 saves in the postseason, setting a new playoff record and breaking the mark of former Canuck Kirk McLean, who set the standard in Vancouver's 1994 run to the Cup final.

"Their goalie was unbelievable," Henrik Sedin said. "We talked about chances … and we can't bury them. The same thing tonight."

The Sedins had some dominating shifts in the first period in which they hemmed the visitors into their own end.

Henrik was one-on-one with Thomas just four minutes into the game but couldn't score, and the brothers even started some shifts in Boston's end without big defenceman Zdeno Chara on the ice. Bruins coach Claude Julien used Chara on the twins as much as possible, and it worked. Daniel Sedin finished with one goal in his last nine games, while Henrik had one in his last 10.

Kesler had some patented speed rushes where he unleashed his world-class wrist shot, but each one found Thomas's equipment. His most telling sequence came midway through the second period when he took too long to uncork a slap shot, then whiffed on a one-timer from close range.

That was a common theme. In Game 7, the Canucks put 37 shots on goal, but another 15 were blocked and 10 missed the target completely.

Had they all struggled at even strength, that would've been one thing. But they also couldn't capitalize with the man advantage. Vancouver's power play went 2-for-31 in the series, and sunk to less than 21 per cent for the postseason. In the regular season, the Canucks had the league's best power play, which connected at better than 24 per cent.

 

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