While the hockey world focuses on the Vancouver Canucks playing without suspended head coach John Tortorella, the team's bigger problem is playing without captain Henrik Sedin.

For the first time in 680 National Hockey League games since March 21, 2004, the Canucks will be without Sedin when they face the Edmonton Oilers here tonight (6:30 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific, Team 1040), desperate to build momentum after Saturday's tumultuous 3-2 shootout win against the Calgary Flames.

Sedin left the game after two periods with a rib injury suffered Thursday in Phoenix, while Tortorella was suspended Monday by the NHL for 15 days and six games for storming towards the Flames' dressing room during the first intermission.

“They're both key guys for us,” interim head coach Mike Sullivan said after this morning's skate. “They both have an influence on what goes on. Henrik, obviously, is a bigger influence because he actually plays and he is arguably our best player. To not have Henrik in the lineup certainly doesn't help our team.

“Having said that, when players go down, my experience being in the league is it provides opportunities for other guys to step up and assume larger roles and bigger responsibilities and certain players embrace that. Our hope is that our guys will rally around the fact Henrik's not in our lineup tonight and make sure we … have a solid team game that makes up for his absence.”

The win against Calgary was just Vancouver's second in 10 games and came after a five-on-five brawl initiated by Flames coach Bob Hartley on the opening faceoff.

Hartley was fined $25,000 by the NHL for his starting lineup selections, which included moving heavyweight winger Kevin Westgarth to centre for the opening faceoff in order to engage Canuck minor-league call-up Kellan Lain.