Henrik Sedin: Blackhawks are ‘team to beat this year’

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Vancouver Canucks see everything the Blackhawks lost in the offseason.

Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Adam Burish, Ben Eager and Kris Versteeg — players that made their rivalry more intense and hate-filled with the Hawks — are gone. The Hawks are simply different.

But the Canucks underwent a makeover themselves, whether it was the maturing of Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows or the additions of defensemen Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard.

“We’ve got a different team this year, a different mindset,” Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. “A lot of teams have a different group too. It’s a different year.”

It’s a year where the Canucks are expected to go all the way. The pressure is on them to win it all — not the Hawks. Sedin tried to deflect that Tuesday after Canucks practice.

“We have a lot of respect for those guys over there,” Sedin said. “They won it, and that’s some place we want to get to too. They’re the team to beat this year. They’re the Stanley Cup champs. It’s a great challenge for us.”

The problem is that the Canucks are considered by many to be the team to beat — not the Hawks. The defending champs needed a Minnesota Wild miracle just to make the playoffs.

The Canucks have been the best team all season. The Canucks finished with the most points in the league and saw goalie Roberto Luongo, the Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler all have stellar seasons.

Anything less than the trip to the Stanley Cup finals would be a monumental disappointment for the Canucks.

What gives the Canucks confidence that their “different” team will lead to “different” results this year?

“We’re a different team — that’s No. 1,” Sedin said. “We’re deeper in every position. Our [defensemen] from top to bottom is the best D in the league. We’re a confident group. We know it’s going to be a tough challenge against the Blackhawks, but we have a different feeling.”

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