The Daniel and Henrik Sedin that are playing now are not the Daniel and Henrik Sedin that had been playing for the Vancouver Canucks at the start of the season. Sure, they look the same and act the same – calm and sportsmanlike – but their play has escalated significantly in the past week. Finally we are seeing tic-tac-toe passes and clean give-and-go goals, “sedinery” (a term reportedly coined by Team 1040’s Dave Tomlinson); enough to remind people that yes, these two are the Canucks’ back-to-back Art Ross Trophy winners.
They are leading their team in many categories – points, assists and plus/minus. Two of Henrik’s most important points came against the Dallas Stars just over a week ago, with which he surpassed Markus Naslund as the Canucks’ All-Time points leader. This provided a huge emotional boost (although they ended up losing the game) and led to strong games by him and Daniel in Chicago and in Dallas. Henrik’s four game point streak ended on Friday in Nashville, but he has had four two point games in the last seven. While he had the odd assist at the beginning of the season, he did not score his first goal of the season until February 17th; now he is just behind Daniel with 15 points.
How have the twins managed to up their game from 14 points in ten games to 18 points in seven? For starters, they have been stronger on the puck. No longer are players able to simply strip the puck off of them, and their passes are mainly finding their own players’ sticks. Another reason is Alex Burrows. For a while Zack Kassian was playing on the top line with the Sedins, but nothing could rival the chemistry between the Sedins and Burrows.
“Originally, anyone playing with the twins had a good chance of getting points, and a good chance of getting goals,” head coach Alain Vigneault told The Province. “But can they sustain it? Can they make the [Sedins'] game better?…He [Burrows] is the best player to help their game out – to help them out offensively and help them out defensively.”
Burrows did not have a multi-point game until seven games ago when the Sedins started to show a bit more spark. He also leads the team in shots with 60; the Sedins know that with Burrows on the ice they will have somebody who is always ready to receive the puck from them and shoot it on net. Possibly the best recent example of the chemistry this line has is a goal by Henrik against the Dallas Stars on Thursday night, who tapped the puck in the net after a give-and-go with Burrows on an odd man rush.
While the Sedins may be racking up more points and the Canucks winning games, there are still, as always, things they can improve on.
“We had a great comeback against one of the best teams in the league,” Henrik told CBC after a shootout loss to Chicago on Tuesday. “We’ve got to make sure that we’re playing for 60 minutes. It’s been three games in a row now that we’ve been letting off a little bit for 10 or 20 minutes and game and it’s cost us so far.” The Canucks have won both games since playing Chicago, but definitely did not play a full 60 minutes in either of them.
The two other areas that they could improve on are on the powerplay (now that they are reunited with Ryan Kesler) and taking faceoffs (Henrik).
“It’s a different look, it’s not an overload power play,” Burrows told The Province of the first powerplay unit which consists of him, the Sedins, Kesler and Alex Edler. “It’s more of a spread power play. We have Kes’s big shot from one side, and Eddie’s big shot up top. Hank is then able to make plays with Danny through the middle.”
The next test for the Sedins and the Vancouver Canucks is the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday afternoon, the last game in a four game road trip before hosting the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday.