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Familiar Faces: Canucks reunite Burrows with Sedin twins on Vancouver's top line

01/05/2015 04:59 EST | Updated 03/07/2015 05:59 EST
VANCOUVER - Alexandre Burrows has bounced around for the Vancouver Canucks this season, so maybe it was a only a matter of time before he found his way back alongside two familiar faces.

The gritty winger skated with Henrik and Daniel Sedin on the top line at practice Monday, a spot he has filled many times in his career — but not much recently.

"It was a while ago," Henrik Sedin said the last time he played with Burrows. "I don't think we've had more than a few shifts here and there the last two years. It should be fun."

A former 35-goal man with the Canucks, Burrows had an injury plagued and inconsistent 2013-14 campaign in which he scored just five times in 49 games.

The 33-year-old has nine goals and eight assists so far this season playing anywhere from the second to fourth line, and admitted to some rust after taking up his old spot beside the talented twins ahead of Tuesday's home game against the New York Islanders.

"I wasn't very good in practice on those rushes," said Burrows. "But I'm sure (on Tuesday) if I give them the puck and go to the net hopefully it works out."

Burrows, who had four straight seasons of at least 26 goals playing mostly with the Sedins, said his mindset changes when he's on Vancouver's No. 1 line.

"I think with other guys I try to make more plays," said Burrows. "Whereas with them as soon as I get it, if I can find one of them I try to give them the puck and bring a check with me and go to the net and open some space for them to work their magic."

Burrows replaced Radim Vrbata on the top unit, a move head coach Willie Desjardins said was made with an eye on generating more offence at even strength for a team that sits second in the Pacific Division.

"(Burrows) has been good there in the past and I think it just gives us a different look more than anything," said the rookie coach. "That's why we'll give it a try."

If Desjardins does stay with the lines from Monday — and he usually practises the way he plans to play — Vrbata will slot in on the second line with Nick Bonino and Chris Higgins, who are each mired in dreadful goal droughts.

Bonino has just one goal over his last 23 games while Higgins has scored once in the last 14. Desjardins said he hopes adding Vrbata — who has scored in three straight games and has 16 on the season — will help get the pair back on track.

"He's a real good player," Desjardins said of the free-agent winger. "He's been great for us. He's both a passer and a shooter. He's a good offensive player so maybe he'll be able to help get that line going a bit. Time will tell."

Vrbata — who has played almost the entire season with the Sedins — said he had no problem with the move.

"I just try to play the same as I do with Daniel and Henrik. Hopefully something will work for us," he said. "If you can have more lines able to score I think the other team has to protect a little more."

While the Canucks have struggled to score 5 on 5 recently, the power play has been lights out over the last six games, going 7 for 16, including two against the Detroit Red Wings in Saturday's 4-1 victory.

One of the big changes has been the addition of Burrows standing in front of the net on the No. 1 unit with the Sedins, Vrbata and defenceman Alexander Edler.

"Power play has been unbelievable. It's just the job (Burrows) does in front of the net," said Henrik Sedin. "You can make a lot of plays on the outside to set up shots, but if you don't get the screen in front and the traffic you're not going to score in this league. He means a lot to us."

The power play is currently ranked ninth overall — it finished 26th when Vancouver missed the playoffs last season — and Vrbata also credited Burrows for the recent surge after a lull in early December.

"He makes a big difference because he's the body in front and he's creating screens," said Vrbata, who had a power-play goal against the Red Wings. "That always helps and I think early in the season we were scoring on lots of backdoor plays. Teams read that, they adjust.

"We were still moving the puck pretty well. We were getting shots, but it seemed most of the shots from (Edler) or me, the goalie could see them. Those were good looks, but with (Burrows screening) it makes a difference."

Burrows was quick to deflect any accolades sent his way for the power-play unit's success, but he was in the thick of it in front of the net on both goals against Detroit.

"In this league that's how you score ... there's not a lot of room out there," he said. "You've got to generate goals by shooting pucks and hopefully getting some tips and rebounds and getting goalies' faces to score."

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