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Ryan Kesler,left, of the Vancouver Canucks talks with teammate Henrik Sedin during Game 4 on June 8, 2011. (Elsa/Getty Images)
Ryan Kesler,left, of the Vancouver Canucks talks with teammate Henrik Sedin during Game 4 on June 8, 2011. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Canucks' scoring slump starts at the top Add to ...

The highest scoring team in hockey has been reduced to a pop-gun offence, and the outage could not have come at a worse time for the Vancouver Canucks.

The Sedin twins are slumping, the NHL's best power play is powerless, and the support scoring has dried up through four games of the Stanley Cup final. Vancouver scored one goal in two games at TD Garden in Boston, and has been unable to solve Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, who has been the best player in the series during three of four games.

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What's gone wrong?

For starters, captain Henrik Sedin didn't register his first shot on goal of the series until the first period of Game 4, and is without a point in the series. He is deferring rather than being aggressive with the puck, and he again looks weak on his skates, as he was in a second-round series against the Nashville Predators.

Daniel Sedin, the league's top scorer in 2010-11, has two points, and other than an excellent Game 2, Vancouver's top line isn't getting the job done. More often than that, the Sedins and Alex Burrows are facing Bruins defencemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, although Canucks coach Alain Vigneault will have last change in Game 5 Friday and will be able to dictate matchups a little more.

"Our best game is good enough," Daniel Sedin said. "We know that. We're a confident group."

Thomas has three shutouts in seven career games against Vancouver (5-2 record), and is on pace to threaten former Canucks netminder Kirk McLean's historic record for saves in a postseason (761). Thomas, who has made 701 saves this spring, is 9-1 in these playoffs when facing 35 shots or more, so Vancouver cannot rely on the simple correction of putting more pucks on net.

"We haven't done a good job of getting to the net, getting the screens," Vigneault said. "We're going to talk about that and see if we can't fix it."

The Canucks rely on their power play for goals, but have just one in 22 chances this series with the man-advantage. That wouldn't be as big a deal if they were scoring 5-on-5, but they're not.

Ryan Kesler is without a goal, and his line has but two assists in the series.

The third line scored the winning goal in Game 1 and the only goal in Game 4, but counting on Maxim Lapierre, Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen to shoulder a scoring burden is asking too much.

The same is true for the defence corps, despite 14 goals this postseason. No Vancouver defenceman has scored in the Cup final.

The Canucks acknowledged that they need more shots and chances from the middle of the ice, and less on the perimeter, while an up-tempo skating game where the puck moves quickly from the defensive zone to the offensive zone would also help their cause.

Vancouver averaged 3.11 goals a game this season, more than any other team in the NHL, and its power play connected a league-best 24.3 per cent of the time. Yet Thomas has leapt to the front of the Conn Smythe Trophy line with his play in the Cup final, which has negated the Canucks and all their weapons.

"He has also in the past, for whatever reason, given up quite a few goals on certain occasions," Vigneault reminded his audience after a 4-0 loss in Game 4 on Wednesday. "He hasn't done that yet. We're maybe responsible partly for that."

Follow on Twitter: @mattsekeres

 

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