Here’s a basic principle for watching the Sedins: they never do anything by accident. Often times, the twins will pull off something so unthinkable that you’d be forgiven for deeming it a fluke. It never is. Rather, it’s a set play from two eternal optimists–guys convinced everything they try will work. Usually it does.
With that in mind, take a look at Alex Burrows’s goal from last night’s season-ending matchup with the Calgary Flames. At first glance, it looks like an accident: Daniel Sedin comes out from behind the net and tries to go top corner with a shot. Instead, he misses wide and hits Alex Burrows in the gut. The puck falls in front of Burr and he taps it in. But that’s not actually what you see. This was a set play, executed to perfection. Here are three items of argumentative proof:
1. Daniel Sedin’s shot isn’t that poor. Daniel proved at this year’s All-Star Skills competition that he’s one of the league’s most accurate shooters. Furthermore, when he comes out from behind the net, he tends to put the puck exactly where he wants to.
Now, you’d be forgiven for assuming this is a shot, especially since it’s four feet in the air, but watch the overhead angle at 0:37 of the clip: the puck goes straight across the crease. Either this is the worst miss of Daniel’s career, or the puck goes where he wanted it to. On second glance, it looks like Daniel Sedin meant to put it exactly where it went–into Alex Burrows’s glove.
2. The Sedins love that high pass. Each year, the twins return from the offseason with a new series of plays, and it appears they spent last summer focusing on how best to utilize all that undefended space above the ice. All season long, we’ve seen obscenely high saucer passes, such as on this powerplay goal versus the Stars.
We’ve also seen a new arsenal of full-blown football-style lob passes. This year, a common occurrence during Sedin shifts has been a high pass across one or more zones meant to be caught and dropped onto the stick of the receiver. We saw it in this goal versus the Oilers, where Alex Burrows shows he’s a good student, lobbing a backhand pass over the defensive and neutral zones to spring Daniel and Henrik for a two-on-one at the offensive blue line.
We see another use of the high pass in the clip above, when Daniel gets the puck past two Calgary defenders by putting it four feet in the air.
Granted, Burr doesn’t convert it with Hossa’s fluidity, but what he lacks in grace, he makes up for in intention. Where Hossa is improvising, Burrows and Daniel are executing a planned play.
That’s sort of impressive, no? Many people are talking about the Sedins’ other goal on the night: a setup for Ryan Kesler that tied the game at two. That, too, was a beautiful passing play, but while you’re marvelling over that one, be sure to give this one another look. It might have been prettier.