The Vancouver Canucks have not lost a game in regulation in their last seven, theyve only lost three in regulation over their last 18 games and they are tied for the second best record in the NHL.
One would think that might be occasion for contentment in Canadas hockey-obsessed third-largest city. But entering Tuesdays game with Nashville, one of the local papers noted that Henrik and Daniel Sedin were melting for a month and that their energy levels needle toward empty.
It seems to be common territory for the twin brothers, no matter what they have accomplished. And they have accomplished much, falling just one game short last season of helping their team to win the nations first Stanley Cup in 18 years. With 57 points, Henrik, the teams captain and the 2010 Hart Trophy winner as league MVP, ranks fifth in the NHL right now in points while Daniel is ninth with 53.
I think its something you get used, Henrik said after Tuesdays morning skate. We know up there its about winning the Stanley Cup. Thats all they care about. They know this year we could run away with the Presidents Trophy (for best regular season record) and it wouldnt really matter. One of us couldve won the scoring race and it wouldnt have mattered.
We know for us, its about winning games. We know the ups and downs of the season. We know when things are being said about us and a lot of times its true and sometimes theyre not true. You cant really buy into it. Youve got to trust in yourself and know when youre playing well and know when youre not playing well. Thats the only thing you can care about.
Some of the criticism comes from the postseason. Henrik scored only three goals in 25 games last year, but he also posted 19 assists and has 66 career points in 90 games, a rate of .73 points per game, which is only slightly below his regular season rate of .82 points per game. Daniel produces at .83 points per game in the regular season (theyre not identical twins for nothing) and .70 points per game in the playoffs. Its worth noting that, in general, its much harder for all players to score in the playoffs, especially as the lowly teams are weeded out and the competition ramps up.
One of the endearing things about the Sedins is how they own up to their shortcomings when they are not playing well. Henrik has hit something of a dry spell lately, failing to score in 11 straight games. Nonetheless, that doesnt mean hes not producing. He has eight assists during that span, including a four-game points streak (five assists total).
In Tuesdays 4-3 shootout win over Nashville, he earned a primary assist from the right wing that linemate Byron Bitz easily converted and then a secondary assist on a goal by Daniel 23 seconds later. He also won 58 percent of his faceoffs that night. Meanwhile, Daniel has five goals in his last nine games.
Regardless of how they are portrayed, the brothers are unfailingly polite with the media.
I think no one in there is happy with the way weve played, Henrik said of the team generally on the subject of coach Alain Vigneaults decision to make the rare move to break up him and his brother and play them on separate lines on Tuesday. Thats a secret to no one. Were getting wins because of good goaltending, individual effort, but thats not how we want to win games.
After Tuesdays game, Daniel also noted the strong play of the teams goaltenders, saying of the skaters, The last month we have not been up to standard so theyve been there for us.
Without naming names, Vigneault discussed the need to get more production out of certain players.
Those two guys are better together, he said. We all know that, we all agree, but right now, basically, if you look at since the Boston game (on Jan. 7), its almost been a month since theyve been a little bit off.
With the brothers combining for four points against Nashville, he told reporters in St. Paul on Thursday that he would likely play the brothers customarily on the same line.
Being high-end skill players at wispy 188 pounds, the Sedins arent the most physical players. But that doesnt mean they arent tough. Henrik took an early slapshot off his right ankle on Tuesday and hobbled off the ice.
He returned, played 18:33 for the game and picked up those two assists. On the trip to Minnesota, he was seen wearing a walking boot. X-rays had not revealed a break and he participated in the teams skate at the Xcel Energy Center on Thursday and sounded as if he were going to play that night. Doctors reportedly told him the injury would not get any worse by playing on it.
When it cant get worse, its got to be my call, Henrik told reporters.
Thats why he has a 552-game consecutive games played streak, the second-longest in the NHL. Playing in obvious pain does not go unnoticed by teammates.
Thats what leadership is all about right there, goalie Roberto Luongo was quoted as saying in the Vancouver Province. A play like that, most guys would have gone into the locker room and packed it in for the rest of the game.
He just flied through that thing, and then contributed in a big way.
Nashville right wing Patric Hornqvist played on Swedens 2010 Olympic team with the Sedins. He has noticed their work ethic, their calmness and the way they shun the spotlight when they return home for the summers.
He talked about the constant pressure that they play under.
Theyre honest, he said. They know every game in Vancouver, (the fans) want them to score every single and they almost do, but the night they dont score, theyre all over them. Theyre probably so used to it. But theyre such good guys, too, they never say anything about the media and thats probably why they have so good success, too, because if you start to complain it gets in your head. They just take it.
Henrik said it helps the brothers that they have each other to help shield themselves from the noise. On the road, their locker stalls are next to each others.
When things are going bad, we know were going to get lumped together, Henrik said, so when things are going bad, were both getting criticized and when things are going well, were both getting good things written about us, so I think it makes us easier.