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Daniel Sedin #22 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his goal to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Kings during the third period at the Staples Center on March 5, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) (Harry How/2011 Getty Images)
Daniel Sedin #22 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his goal to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Kings during the third period at the Staples Center on March 5, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) (Harry How/2011 Getty Images)

Daniel Sedin resumes scoring title chase against Wings Add to ...

Much of the talk leading into a game between two of the NHL's best teams is more about who's missing than who will be playing.

But with the Vancouver Canucks in Detroit to finish their season series against the Red Wings, the NHL's scoring leader will, in fact, be in the lineup, something that was in doubt when Daniel Sedin's wife went into labour earlier this week.

A quick commercial flight after the birth of his daughter, however, and Sedin made it to Motown with plenty of time to spare. Had he missed the game, it would have been his first out of the lineup in a season that could see him nominated for the Hart Trophy.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said he was glad Sedin won't miss a game because he'd like to see Daniel and twin brother Henrik pull off the feat of two brothers winning the NHL's scoring title, back to back.

With nine games left, Daniel has a seven-point lead, with 93 points compared to 86 for both his brother and Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos.

"They've got an opportunity to do something really out of the ordinary, something that I don't think has ever been done," Vigneault said. "One brother win it one year, and the other brother win it the other year. When you think about how competitive the NHL is, how strong the teams are, for that to happen in consecutive years by twins is amazing.

"It was important to Daniel to be there for the birth of his daughter, which is totally normal, and it's the right thing to do. But for him to not miss a game, he's happy and his brother's happy, too. I'm sure that deep down they're thinking about this thing that's never happened before."

Daniel Sedin said he felt last season was a turning point for both brothers, as they broke out in a big way. Henrik was producing points even when Daniel was out of the lineup, the first time they'd been apart for a long stretch in their careers, and now reunited, they feel as strong as ever.

"That was big for us," he said. "We realized we can play pretty good without each other and when we're together, we can be a little bit better. It was important for us to see we could do it without each other, too."

Red Wings starter Jimmy Howard had high praise for the Sedins, who he had to face often as a rookie last season. Howard has a 5-3-0 record against Vancouver, but his numbers are far from stellar, with a 3.28 goals-against average and .900 save percentage.

"They're very dangerous," he said. "They work so well together. They click. You have to pay special attention to them because they're so crafty with the puck."

Injury parade

As for who's missing tonight, it's a long list. Both teams are guaranteed playoff spots, with the Canucks already clinching the Northwest Division title and the Wings close to claiming the Central and sitting eight points back of Vancouver in second in the Western Conference.

For the Canucks, forwards Mikael Samuelsson and Manny Malhotra are out, with Samuelsson sitting with a minor lower body injury and Malhotra out for the season after taking a puck to the eye. Defencemen Andrew Alberts (fractured wrist) and Alex Edler (back surgery) remain sidelined, as well.

Things are even worse for the Red Wings, who'll be without Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), Johan Franzen (groin), Todd Bertuzzi (back) and Chris Osgood (hernia). Jiri Hudler (neck), meanwhile, is a question mark that'll be decided close to game time, although it sounds like he can play.

If Hudler can't play, the Wings will use seven defencemen.

Passing who?

There have been so many callups for Detroit that they had to send third-string goaltender Joey MacDonald down to the minors yesterday in order to recall forward Jan Mursak, but with Osgood's health status in question, the Red Wings needed someone on hand to fill in if needed.

Asked by media who the potential backup could be, coach Mike Babcock went over to a young netminder on one side of the dressing room and asked him his name.

"Passing Ham," the goalie said, which the reporters on hand dutifully wrote down as the youngster spelled it out. Some even started calling him "Passing," thinking the newest member of the Red Wings came with one of the strangest names in the league.

Turns out, however, that Detroit had sought out OHL netminder Troy Passingham, who has played for nearby teams Sarnia and Windsor lately, and signed him to an amateur tryout contract. It was initially believed he could be on the bench for the game, with the Wings then hoping dearly that Howard doesn't go down with an injury.

"You've always got to be ready for that," Passingham said, grinning. "Hopefully I just get to watch, but you never know."

Later in the afternoon, however, Osgood went on long-term injured reserve, MacDonald was recalled and Mr. Passingham's moment in the sun was over.

Roberto Luongo will start for the Canucks.

Bieksa back

Returning to the lineup for Vancouver will be defenceman Kevin Bieksa, who has been out the past 15 games with a broken foot. Vigneault said he will ease him in on a pairing with Dan Hamhuis, giving Bieksa roughly 20 minutes tonight, down from his season average of roughly 23 a game.

"Right now I'm feeling really good," Bieksa said. "There's no reason to hold me back. Just treat me as usual. Hopefully I'm playing good enough to get out there [a lot]"

 

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