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 their stats.
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 chemistry.
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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