Can the Sedins find a happy medium in their response to physical play?

Two years ago, the Sedins lost their cool during the Canucks’ series against the Chicago Blackhawks and were criticized for their lack of mental discipline, as they uncharacteristically took part in the after-whistle scrums with the likes of David Bolland and Andrew Ladd. The story quickly became that you could distract the Sedins and get them off their game with chippy, physical play.

A year later, the Sedins took the opposite tack in the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins, accepting any and all punishment in hopes of drawing penalties and taking advantage on the powerplay. This, however, resulted in the Sedins being called soft, particularly when Daniel allowed Brad Marchand to repeatedly punch him in the head after a whistle. The story quickly became that you could intimidate the Sedins and get them off their game with chippy, physical play.

It seemed like they were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t. If they responded, they were criticized for lacking mental toughness, but if they didn’t, they were criticized for lacking physical toughness.

After Wednesday night’s game four in Los Angeles, it seems like the Sedins are trying to find a happy medium between the two.

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The Canucks Bleacher Creatures are all abominations

This past fall, the NHL joined the NBA, the MLB, and the NFL in partnering with Bleacher Creature Toys, a company based in Pennsylvania that turns the sporting world’s most popular athletes into plush dolls. Now, anybody can snuggle up with a Sidney Crosby, Henrik Lundqvist, or Patrick Kane doll, provided they’re willing to drop $25. (Of course, you could probably do that with the real Patrick Kane for free, especially if you’re an unbelievable blonde.)

There are currently 23 Bleacher Creatures available in the NHL store, and 3 of them are Canucks: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Ryan Kesler. They’re all terrible.

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Canucks-centric highlights of the 2012 NHL All-Star Game

The 2012 NHL All-Star Game might have been a letdown if you were expecting playoff intensity, but for everyone who went in expecting a fun game of shinny featuring some incredibly talented hockey players, the game completely lived up to expectations.

For Canucks fans, there were a number of highlights, with Daniel and Henrik Sedin playing a major role up front, while Alex Edler was second in icetime for Team Alfredsson and third overall in the game.

Henrik tied Daniel Alfredsson’s team-high with 3 points, while Daniel (Sedin, that is) had two points of his own. And, while Edler was held off the scoresheet, he did tie Scott Hartnell and Shea Weber with a team-high plus-2 rating in a game Team Alfredsson lost by 3 goals.

Check out the highlights after the jump.

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Edler and the Sedins join Team Sweden at the NHL All-Star Game

A Canuck didn’t get picked until Round 9 and, unsurprisingly, he wasn’t picked by Zdeno Chara. Daniel Sedin, the defending Art Ross winner and 9th in scoring this season, was the 18th pick of the draft. Including the Captains and Alternates, Daniel was the 22nd player to join one of the All-Star teams.

If that seems odd, his brother Henrik is higher in league scoring and went 8 picks later in the 13th round, also to Team Alfredsson. Despite getting picked later than his brother, he managed to chip in a Grade-A chirp when asked about playing against his brother in the last All-Star Game: “It was nice to play with some good players last year, finally.”
Alex Edler, fifth in scoring amongst defencemen, was the last blueliner picked in the draft, having to wait until round 15 before getting picked by – surprise, surprise – Daniel Alfredsson.

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From the Archives: Daniel’s Worst Christmas, an original holiday tale

Originally published on December 18,2010, “Daniel’s Worst Christmas” is a poetic retelling of the Canucks’ 2009-10 regular season in which an injury to Daniel Sedin led to a Hart trophy season for his twin brother, Henrik. But that wasn’t the whole story…

With Christmas only days away, we thought we’d bring this one back from the dead. Granted, some of its jokes are a year-old (but the Calgary Flames remain bad, so that one still works), and it remains a poem, unfortunately, but you might still find it worth your time.

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The Sedins skate uphill, invoke the 90s

The Canucks initially showed this awesome video on Rogers Sportsnet during one of the intermissions of their game against the LA Kings and now it’s available online. And I love it. It’s absolutely hilarious to watch two of the best players in the NHL inline skating in the summer time, mainly because of the memories it evokes.

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The Soft Sedin Myth

Popular wisdom is that the easiest way to shut down the Sedins is to play a tough, physical game. The theory goes that the Sedins wilt under physical pressure, with the Stanley Cup Final submitted as proof. The takeaway from that series for a lot of people is that the Sedins are too soft and that all that is required to shut them down is to hit them. Is this view true? How do the Sedins perform in more physical games? Are the Sedins soft?

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Drance Numbers is the silly research wing of PITB. While Messrs. Wagner and Mooney blog nationally and solve mysteries, Drance Numbers will look into the minutiae of quantifiable NHL data and bore you with it every Friday. Today, Drance looks at the shooting percentage of Sedin linemates.

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In last night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, the Vancouver Canucks were down by one goal nearing the end of the second period, when Marco Sturm earned a small portion of his $2.25 million contract by forcing an offensive zone faceoff with 24 seconds left. Unsurprisingly, Alain Vigneault sent out his top line of Burrows and the Sedins in hopes of getting a late goal.

Since the Oilers were at home, they had the last change and Tom Renney could send out whoever he wanted. He smartly chose his veteran second line of Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff, and Ryan Jones. Horcoff was the Oilers’ best man in the faceoff circle and took the majority of the defensive zone draws: so far, so good. He then made a baffling decision. For his defensive pair, he sent out his bottom pair of Andy Sutton and Corey Potter. This was not a good idea. Let’s explore why in pictures.

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Henrik Sedin was in Rogers Arena Monday night, but he wasn’t playing hockey. The Canucks captain celebrated his 31st birthday on Monday by going to see Keith Urban in concert.

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Though Henrik Sedin had a slight statistical regression from his Hart and Art Ross trophy winning season in 2010-11, registering 94 points a year after a career-high 112, you’d be hard-pressed to say last season was a step backwards for the elder twin. On opening night of the regular season, Henrik was named the captain of the Vancouver Canucks, a position Roberto Luongo had relinquished during the offseason. Anointed as the head of a revamped leadership corps, Henrik had a pretty good first year with the new patch, leading the Canucks to within one win of the Stanley Cup.

With his brother healthy for the entire season, Henrik also returned to his primary role as Daniel’s setup man (and, seeing as his brother won the Art Ross and the Lindsay, he was clearly a pretty effective setup man). Henrik scored 10 fewer goals than the season prior, finishing one goal short of his third 20-goal season. That said, 19 goals are nothing to sneeze at, especially when they come paired with a league-leading 75 assists and 94 points total. Trust me: while Henrik isn’t an elite goalscorer, per se, Henrik Sedin is an elite playmaker and that, more than anything else, is evident during this compilation of every goal he scored in 2010-11. I assure you, it’s the best one yet.

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It’s tough to look fondly back on a season that ended in such disappointment (and destruction), but it would be a disservice to a year chock-a-block with great moments if we didn’t make the attempt. Truth is, apart from that unfortunate losing streak to close out the season — the one that gave Boston their first Stanley Cup in nearly four decades — almost everything went Vancouver’s way this year. In short, if you overlook that final flameout (rather than allowing it to overshadow everything else), the recent past is a pretty happy place.

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Between nasty hits, high sticks, crosschecks, a finger-biting trend, and misconducts galore, it’s probably safe to say that the Stanley Cup Final has been a chippy affair. Though there’s always some concern when two teams that don’t often see each other often meet, Vancouver and Boston never struggled to generate bad blood. However, it’s been my understanding that, any time hatred appears this strong, it’s powered by an equally strong undercurrent of love. After 10 days in one another’s company, is it hyperbole to say that Vancouver and Boston have actually become best friends forever? Certainly not. Truth is, while the media is busy telling stories of the dirty, overrated, and unlikable Canucks, much of their ammunition has come by way of misreporting on Vancouver’s many, many random acts of kindness. Here are eleven genial gestures that have been misconstrued.

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This whiny-looking photo of Henrik Sedin (Whinerik?) was taken just moments after the Canucks’ captain was felled by an Andrew Ference crosscheck to the ribs. The Sedins, as you might know, spend a lot of time with their backs to defenders, and as a result, their spines have evolved into diamond nanorods. Their fronts, however, are crosschecked much less often, and therefore retain the sensitivity of normal people. This hurt.

A lot of people accused Henrik Sedin of trying to sell a call here, but that’s not what I see in this photo. I see a sensitive soul singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” from a place of raw emotion. I also see a lot of other things.

Here are 20 things Henrik Sedin might be saying in this photo.

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Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few topics that deserve mention.

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Coming into tonight’s game, the Canucks had given the media very little about which to criticize them. If you were splitting hairs (and some did), you could suggest their penalty killing, 0-for-3 at that point, was subpar, but even that was a petty gripe. After all, it was a pretty small sample size, right? It’s not like they had given up five straight powerplay goals in the series or something. Mind you, then they did. And before you could say, “On second thought, I would prefer the majority of this game be played at even-strength,” they were down by two on powerplay goals by Patrick Marleau and Ryane Clowe. The Sharks would never relinquish the lead, although this might have had something to do with the fact that there was a Canuck in the penalty box for over half the match (32 PIM). Like the Canucks’ fifth man, I watched this game:

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It takes 12 wins to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Bearing this in mind, after exactly 12 games, why aren’t the Canucks there yet? Why, I ask you, are they still toiling away in the second round, a round they could have completed as many as four games ago? The answer is simple: because Daniel and Henrik Sedin are a combined minus-14.

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It’s fair to say that Daniel and Henrik Sedin have struggled so far in these playoffs. It’s fair to say that the Canucks need more from their two Art Ross winners. It’s fair to say that the Canucks will need the Sedins to be better if they have any chance of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup.

It’s not fair to combine their plus/minus ratings as evidence for these fair claims.

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A day after San Jose failed to sweep their series with Detroit, giving Vancouver the glorious chance to get at least a day’s more rest with a game five series win on home ice, the Canucks failed to capitalize, frittering away the opportunity with a night full of uncharacteristic blunders. Brutal blunders, like turning the puck over, giving up a shorthanded goal, or making Joel Ward’s July 1st price tag skyrocket. As Roberto Luongo said, “[Nashville] didn’t do anything special tonight. Whatever they got, we gave them.” He is correct. The Canucks outplayed the Predators in nearly every facet of the game, generating more chances, and even outscoring the visitors four to three. Problem was, some of those chances came in front of Roberto Luongo, and one of those four goals was scored into the wrong net. Like I said, blunders a go-go, all of which Alain Vigneault would probably classify as real bad. Blech. My mouth tastes sour, either because of the adverb abuse in the previous sentence, or because I watched this game.

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Going into the third period of last night’s contest, I began to wonder if these two teams were stuck in some sort of Groundhog Day (or classic X-Files episode “Monday”)-style time loop, fated to repeat game one over and over again, until they got it right. Everything was just a little too familiar: Vancouver’s inability to put distance between themselves and Nashville, Ryan Kesler’s dominance, the one-goal lead heading into the third period. I soon suspected that Barry Trotz’s trap wasn’t a neutral zone trap at all, but rather, a time trap, where time just reset itself after undesirable outcomes. It was terrifying to consider the possibilities of a coach that could manipulate time, but it might explain why Trotz had retained his NHL coaching job for an absurd 11 years– David Poile still thinks this is Nashville’s debut season. Thankfully, however, Ryan “Timecop” Kesler broke through the time trap with a Van Dammean solo dash, preserving both the win and the natural progression of time. Yeah, I watched that movie. I also watched this game.

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The Canucks went into game 2 of their opening round playoff series with the Blackhawks hoping to do something they had failed to do in two previous tries: win the damn game. They succeeded, too, although it was no picnic, perhaps because this isn’t the National Picnic League. Tonight’s Blackhawks had more jump, more grit, and more offense than the Chicago team from two nights ago, but unfortunately, they didn’t get to play the Chicago team from two nights ago. They played the Canucks, who had more jump, more grit, and more offense than tonight’s Blackhawks. I watched this game:

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Welcome to the back half of the Best of the Sedins countdown, the top 5 plays the Canucks’ top line orchestrated this year. Before we go any further, let me say that this list is far from definitive, and I’d be interested to hear your contrary opinions in the comments.

And, if you’re planning to happen by the comments, here’s something for you to ponder: are the Sedins the greatest players in Vancouver Canucks history? I think they are. I watched Pavel Bure; I watched the West Coast Express, too. For me, what the Sedins do night after night simply wins out. The way they move the puck, the meticulous way they break apart a defense, the casual way they do the incredible–it’s unlike and above any other superstars Vancouver has ever had.

You want proof? I submit, for the record, exhibits 5 through 1:

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PITB’s first post ever was a top 5 countdown of the best Sedin goals of last season, posted exactly a year ago today. We thought, in honour of our first birthday, and the fact that the Sedins are totally balls, it was time to return to our roots. What are blogs for if not for lists?

Unlike last year, there is no de facto number one, but there are about fifteen plays worthy of a spot in the top five. As a result, we’ve doubled the list, and will now be counting down the top ten Sedin plays of 2010-11. Be warned: this list is highly subjective. Last week’s post, in which we shared 12 wizardous candidates, proved consensus on Sedin-ranking to be impossible. As a result, we just decided to go with our gut, which I can safely say has never steered me wrong, save last week, when it asked for a bacon sundae. Anyway. Here are plays 10 – 6.

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For the third time in the last four years, the Canucks and Flames found themselves paired up for game 82 with little on the line. Considering the lopsided outcome of the previous two season-enders, with the Flames walloping the Canucks 7-1 in 2008 and the Canucks matching that goal total in a 7-3 rout last year, one might have assumed that this contest wouldn’t be lively or close. But it was. Like extramarital sex with a ghost, this one was a spirited affair. After falling behind by two, Vancouver needed a third-period comeback and an overtime marker from Christian Ehrhoff to head into the postseason on a winning note. I watched this game.

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In just under two weeks, PITB will be counting down our top 5 moments of Wizardous Sedinerie from the 2010-11 season, just as we did last year. Solemn guarantee: it’s gonna be a sweet list. While there isn’t a de facto number one this year, that doesn’t mean the Sedins have been scoring boring. They’ve done some mind-blowing stuff this year.

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