Sedins hold key to Vancouver’s playoff hopes
Sunday, 24 August 2008
Originally published in Eishockey News in 2008
By Lucas Aykroyd
Early in the NHL careers of Daniel and Henrik Sedin, the twin Swedish forwards were derisively dubbed the “Sedin sisters.” Despite their obvious finesse skills and chemistry together, they lacked upper body strength and footspeed. And despite the similarity between their surname and that of Mats Sundin, nobody believed these two Vancouver Canucks would ever be in the same class as the longtime Toronto Maple Leafs captain, that is, until after the NHL lockout.
When the league resumed play in 2005-06, both of the Ornskoldvik-born brothers began scoring at close to a point-per-game pace, virtually identical to Sundin’s. In 2007-08, they’re maintaining that level of production as Vancouver’s scoring leaders. After captain Markus Naslund, the Canucks lack consistent secondary scoring.
Yes, agitating forwards like Ryan Kesler and Alexandre Burrows have already recorded career offensive highs. But in their case, that just means getting into the 20- or 30-point range. Former NHL ironman Brendan Morrison has been sidelined since December with a wrist injury and may not return until mid-March.
So the message is clear: since superstar goalie Roberto Luongo isn’t going to score goals for the team in the playoffs, the Sedins must keep delivering the kind of heroics they showed in Game One of the 2007 Western Conference quarter-finals versus Dallas, where Daniel set up Henrik for the winner in quadruple overtime.
The team’s fortunes on defense have improved with rookie Alexander Edler’s emergence and the return of Kevin Bieksa on February 21 after missing nearly four months with a gashed calf muscle. Those blueliners can also contribute offensively, and that’s a plus for the Sedins.
“Look at Detroit and how many points their defensemen have,” said Henrik. “It’s definitely big for us to have our D-men contributing. If you have threats coming from the blueline, other teams will play us differently, maybe not as tightly as a lot of teams do.”
Vancouver could finish anywhere from third to out of the playoffs in the insanely tight Western Conference standings. But with five regulation wins in six games between February 10 and 23, the picture looks brighter.
“As a team, we had a tough stretch there for a while,” admitted Daniel. “But now that we’re starting to win and the confidence is there, we think we have a chance against any team.”