During Tuesday night’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Canucks were in a bind partway through the third period. Down by one, they just weren’t able to generate enough chances as the Flyers collapsed into a defensive shell to protect their lead. And so, in an attempt to spark the offence, John Tortorella split the Sedins, moving Ryan Kesler to the wing with Henrik and Chris Higgins and putting Daniel with Mike Santorelli and Jannik Hansen.
The split worked, as Kesler and Higgins helped create room for Henrik with a physical forecheck, resulting in goals for both Higgins and Kesler and a win for the Canucks. It was the second time already in this short season that splitting the Sedins has resulted in a third period comeback — it also worked against the Calgary Flames.
This has sparked the seemingly annual debate over whether the Canucks should split up the Sedins on a more semi-permanent basis. After all, splitting them so far this season has resulted in two goals per period, so, logically, starting the game with them split should result in 6 goals per game. Not even the 1984 Edmonton Oilers managed that, averaging a measly 5.6 goals per game. That’s right: splitting the Sedins would make the Canucks better than the Oilers dynasty from the 80′s. Tortorella would be a fool not to do it!
Of course, it’s not that simple. We’re pretty big fans of the Sedins being together around these parts, but there are some legitimate arguments for splitting them — well, more legitimate than they’ll score all the goals, at least. Let’s break down the pros and cons in a feature we like to call “Pros and Cons.”
PRO – It provides a world-class playmaker for both of the top two lines.
The Sedins are undoubtedly the two best playmakers on the Canucks right now and are arguably the two best playmakers in Canucks history. Henrik and Daniel are first and second for the franchise lead in assists and, by the end of their careers, will likely have set nigh-unassailable franchise records.
If they weren’t twins who have always played on the same line, it would seem absolutely ludicrous to put the two best playmakers on the team on the same line.
CON – It deprives Henrik of a world-class sniper.
Daniel is third in franchise history in goals and will quite possibly pass Trevor Linden for second. He’s just 25 goals back. As long as the Sedins re-sign in Vancouver, he’ll likely pass Markus Naslund for the franchise record as early as next season. As good a playmaker as Daniel is, he’s primarily a goal-scorer, and one of the best in Canucks history.
As ludicrous as it seems to put the two best playmakers on one line, it seems even more ludicrous to divest the best best playmaker on the team of the best goalscorer on the team.
PRO – You get a Sedin on two lines.
CON – You get two Sedins on no lines.
…which severely limits the opportunities for Wizardous Sedinery.
PRO – It would create all kinds of matchup issues for opposing teams.
The main task for any team facing the Canucks is how to shutdown the Sedin line. Imagine the consternation if they have to shutdown the Sedin lines. The addition of a Sedin to the second line instantly makes it more dangerous and forces the opposing coach to make a decision about which line to use his best defencemen and defensive forwards against. This means that at least one Sedin will get to play against weaker competition and should be able to take advantage.
CON – It’s a lot easier to shut down one Sedin than it is to shut down two.
Part of the difficulty in shutting down the Sedins is how they seem to innately know where the other twin is at all times. As we’ve seen again and again, the Sedins can befuddle even the best defenders in the league with their cycle game and ability to find each other with counter-intuitive passes that are hard to predict.
The Sedins can certainly set up players other than each other, but opposing defenders will definitely have an easier job with the Sedins apart.
PRO – We may discover they have chemistry with other players.
It can be tough to decide which winger to play with the Sedins, with Alex Burrows, Mike Santorelli, Jannik Hansen, and even Zack Kassian all showing chemistry with the twins in the past. With the Sedins in separate lines, the Canucks no longer have to choose just one player, but can match a whopping four different players with a Sedin.
CON – It could take a really long time to figure out who has chemistry with whom.
When the Sedins are together, the problem is simple: find one player who will work with them. Splitting them up creates a much larger problem, as you have to find two players that work well with each Sedin, a process that could take a lot of time and experimentation. While the Sedins together instantly elevate whichever winger is matched with them, it remains to be seen how that will work with one Sedin.
PRO – Splitting a pair with a lot of chemistry has worked in the past.
You just need to look at how well splitting Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows worked out back in 2009. The former third-line checkers matured into legitimate top-six forwards, with both setting new career-highs in points.
CON – Splitting a pair with a lot of chemistry can lead to unintended terrible consequences.
Just look at Troy and Abed’s competing pillow and blanket forts.
PRO – Henrik has proven he can produce without Daniel.
Early in the 2009-10 season, Daniel Sedin broke his foot against the Montreal Canadiens, missing 18 games. Without his brother for the first time in his career, Henrik stepped up for the Canucks, scoring 10 goals and 18 points in those 18 games. Henrik went on to win the first Art Ross trophy in franchise history and, partly due to proving he can play without his brother, also won the first Hart trophy in franchise history.
CON – Henrik produces way more with Daniel.
In that 2009-10 season, Henrik finished with 112 points, a franchise record. If you take away those 18 games without Daniel, he scored 94 points in just 64 games. As good as Henrik was without Daniel for that brief amount of time, he is far better with his brother and the advanced stats bear that out.
What’s more, since Henrik has played 636 straight regular season games without missing any due to injury or otherwise, we have no evidence for how well Daniel can play without Henrik. Certainly, we can assume he can still produce without his brother, but we have no proof of it. In the meantime, it’s likely better to assume that they are greater than the sum of their parts when on the same line.Tags: Blogs are for lists, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, pros and cons