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Vancouver Canucks' Alex Burrows celebrates after scoring during NHL hockey action in Vancouver in this January 7, 2010 file photo. Undrafted out of junior and left to ride the bus in the hinterlands of the ECHL, Alex Burrows has emerged as an integral piece of what might be the best line in hockey. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck (DARRYL DYCK)
Vancouver Canucks' Alex Burrows celebrates after scoring during NHL hockey action in Vancouver in this January 7, 2010 file photo. Undrafted out of junior and left to ride the bus in the hinterlands of the ECHL, Alex Burrows has emerged as an integral piece of what might be the best line in hockey. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck (DARRYL DYCK)

David Shoalts

Burrows clicks for Canucks Add to ...

Now that the nation has heaved a sigh of relief that the feud between the Vancouver Canucks and Hockey Night In Canada is over, it can be pointed out that the centre of that storm, Alexandre Burrows, is a major reason why the Canucks are the best team in the country right now.

Burrows and the Sedin twins make up one of the hottest lines in the NHL, which will no doubt be demonstrated on HNIC tonight when the Canucks kick off the longest ever road swing in the NHL (14 games, thanks to the Olympics) by meeting the sorry Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canucks are going into the Air Canada Centre with a six-game win streak.

The success of the Burrows-Sedins line is almost lost in the fuss over whether Burrows was telling the truth when he said referee Stéphane Auger swore revenge on him. Until the trio was held off the scoresheet by the close-checking St. Louis Blues on Wednesday, they all had impressive points streaks going.

Burrows, 28, had 19 of his 45 points in his 12 games previous to playing the Blues, while 29-year-olds Henrik and Daniel Sedin had 12 and 11 points, respectively, in five games. Before last night's games, Henrik was the leading scorer in the NHL with 76 points, which has him in the hunt for the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's most valuable player. Daniel has been limited to 34 games because of injury but has an impressive 48 points.

"It's some kind of magic with those two guys," Burrows said of the Swedish twins, who seem to operate by telepathy. "They know where they are going to be, especially in the offensive zone. As long as it's on the forehand or backhand, they are able to make those saucer passes and that makes them really fun to watch."

But to listen to the twins, Burrows' contribution to the line is considerable, especially when it comes to fore-checking.

"He's not great at anything, but he's good at everything," Henrik Sedin said. "He's really smart. He reads the play very well, he's a good skater and he can really finish."

Burrows is good at getting under the skin of opponents. He is not shy about using verbal barbs, and part of the debate over his dispute with Auger were accusations that he is a serial diver.

"That's part of him being a player," Daniel Sedin said. "He always tries to stir things up. That's his role. Every team has a few of those. He's been in the news lately but he's a really good hockey player and that's the No.1 thing he brings to the team. He's a great fore-checker for sure and he's great at finding loose pucks for us."

Aw, shucks, Burrows says in response. All he does is try to get to the front of the net and get his stick on the puck.

"I just give them the puck and they are such offensively gifted players they are going to make plays," Burrows said. "They're so smart with the puck, they're going to be able to beat anyone one-on-one or two-on-two, cycling out of the corners. For me, I just try to go to the net and create more room for them."

The Sedins have been solid players for the last few seasons, hence the interest in them when they were headed for free agency last year, especially on the part of Leafs general manager Brian Burke, who traded madly at the 1999 NHL entry draft so he could get both of them when he was running the Canucks. But they were slow to develop, which brought on a lot of criticism in their early years.

"No, we never get motivated by fans or by media," Henrik Sedin said when asked if he felt any satisfaction in having one up on the critics. "We said from day one we want to get better. It's more so showing Brian [Burke]he did a good job drafting us.

"He always believed in us. We wanted to show him he did the right thing. Also we knew, and Brian knew too, that we weren't really prepared physically for the NHL [as teenagers] It's taken some time, but it worked out."

If Henrik wins the Hart Trophy, it will be the first time he has not shared anything with his twin brother. Perhaps that is why he brushes such talk aside.

"We've shared pretty much everything," he said. "But it's early talk. It's a long season."

 

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