Sedins step it up
To some degree, points have stopped being the point of reference
when evaluating the play of Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
A player’s contribution to the scoresheet is always going to
be a factor when evaluating his play, but the twins have passed the
threshold where their worth is constantly assessed by clicking on
That said, these guys are tearing it up right now.
Henrik, in particular, is having a heroic season. He’s on
pace for 34 goals and 104 points, totals that would obliterate his
previous career highs of 22 and 82.
He also held the wheel when Daniel missed 18 games with a
broken foot, netting 18 points over that stretch, proving he can
still create offense without the benefit of that mildly creepy twin
Daniel is dangling, too, these days. Like his brother, Daniel
is on a seven-game point streak, racking up 12 points over that
time. Henrik has 14 over the same stretch and presently sits tied
for second in league scoring with 42 points, just two back of
leader Joe Thornton.
That’s going beyond the realm of reliable point-producer to
the rarified air of absolutely elite NHL talent.
But getting back to the part where points aren’t the most
important metric at this juncture, the Sedins are definitely
entering Phase 3 of their careers and this certainly isn’t the
first space to call attention to that fact.
It took a while, but the twins proved in the pre-lockout era
that they had enough gumption to not be shooed out of NHL rinks
upon arriving from Sweden. They didn’t put up much in the way of
numbers, but they at least showed they belonged.
Then they started putting up numbers. Post-lockout, they’re
basically point-per-game players, two guys who can consistently
drive the offense of a good team.
Now comes the part where they justify the commitment Mike
Gillis made to them when the Vancouver GM ponied up $6.1 million
per season to each of them over the next five years. (To Gillis’
credit, he also won a staredown during the negations by not
succumbing to the double-digit term the twins were after. Don’t be
fooled by the softer cap hit, those excessive commitments have the
potential to bite some teams right in the butt.)
The Canucks have already won the first three contests of an
eight-game homestand that must see them make some hay. Vancouver
sat one point back of eighth-place Detroit as it prepared to host
Anaheim Wednesday night. Stage 3 for the Sedins, as you’ve surely
guessed, involves navigating an intensely competitive Western
Conference to make the playoffs, then proving they can be integral
parts of a contending team once there.
Vancouver’s meltdown last spring was a team-wide commitment
to collapse that couldn’t fairly be pinned on any one player
— or even two players, no matter how much they look alike.
Middling early-season results aside, there remains an upside
to the Canucks, one that could yet take them deep into the
postseason. The Sedins have to be a heavy presence on the scene for
that to happen, and if you don’t think they’ve got the pedigree to
be playoff heroes, maybe your eyes are still burning from all those
bad uniforms Vancouver has sported over the years.
Let’s get this straight; Butch Goring these guys ain’t. If
the Canucks do make a deep run, the black-and-blue face of it will
be Ryan Kesler, a guy whose two-way game is perfectly suited to
impact close, tight games. He’ll be the one who’s reminiscent of
Trevor Linden, circa 1994.
However, to think the Sedins can’t thrive when the tough get
going is folly. I’ll admit, I’ve had my doubts in the past, but
when you contemplate the characteristics of playoff hockey, these
guys should be well-positioned for success.
They are absolutely devastating down low, where their quick
passes and innate knowledge of where to find each other torment
teams. Postseason hockey, even in its current incarnation, is about
eliminating time and space — and the Sedins need precious
little of both to do damage.
Their combined playoff production so far is 58 points in 106
games, far below what their talent and team begs of them. But,
having just passed their 29th birthdays at the start of the season,
the Sedins are right in that zone where really good players add
another, integral layer to their repertoire.
The points spike is fantastic, but a spring surge is the
challenge that can and must be met.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News
magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a
regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursday and his
column, Top Shelf, appears Wednesday.
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