Willes: Daniel Sedin needs to play in a more ‘un-Swedish way,’ says brother Henrik
In the aftermath of the Vancouver Canucks’ win on Tuesday night, it was gently suggested to Henrik Sedin that it’s not necessarily a good thing he has almost as many goals as his brother.
The Canucks captain thought about this for a moment, nodded his head in the affirmative, then dissected Daniel’s slump as neatly as he dissects the opposition’s defence.
“He needs to play in a very un-Swedish way,” Henrik said.
Do you mean selfishly, his interrogator suggested.
“Exactly. That’s when he’s at his best. You saw after he scored that goal I was open but he faked a shot and went through his legs. It’s great to watch and it builds up the guys around him.
“When you’re a goal scorer and you don’t score goals, it’s tough. You saw after he scored he started to make plays the way he used to.”
Daniel, in fact, had his best game in a month on Tuesday night, breaking out of an eight-game goalless schneid and picking up an assist in the Canucks’ 3-2 win over the Blues. That production, it goes without saying, was manna for a team that’s been in a longer scoring drought than the 40-year-old virgin.
But the most encouraging sign for the faithful was Daniel’s response after he flummoxed a first-period scoring chance. Visibly pissed, he came back and started to play angry, putting the puck between his legs, taking on two and three defenders at a time, playing with an edge.
It was the look of a man who’d had enough. OK, it was one night and it’s illogical to think Daniel and his brother can put this team on their backs and lift them from the swamp in which they’ve sunk.
Then again, it’s not like they have a lot of choice in the matter.
“I mean, eight games,” Daniel said, shaking his head. “It’s just been frustrating because we’ve been losing games. But I think we’ve been around long enough to know that if you work hard enough, it will come.”
The twins, in fact, have seldom encountered a problem they couldn’t defeat through hard work. But this season might be different. As the team is currently constructed, there’s an almost inhuman burden placed on them to carry the Canucks offensively. They’re also aware if they don’t do it on a consistent basis, it won’t get done, and for long stretches of this season, Daniel hasn’t gotten it done.
This is also a little strange because Henrik has been exceptional. Generally, the twins’ individual production is indistinguishable from their collective efforts but, over the first 29 games of this lockout-shortened campaign, Henrik has been the Canucks’ best player and second place, with all due respect to Jannik Hansen, hasn’t been particularly close.
Daniel leads the Canucks with nine goals. Henrik and Hansen are next, each with eight.
The team’s most visible failing has been on the power play, and that’s where Daniel has been MIA. The loss of Ryan Kesler’s right-hand shot and the inability to develop consistent production from the point hasn’t helped. But when you’re an Art Ross and Ted Lindsay Trophy winner, more is expected — and a lot more is expected of Daniel than two power play goals in 29 games.
“He’s on pace for 27, 28 goals,” Henrik said. “That’s not terrible. He hasn’t scored lately. Maybe in an 82-game season it will even out, but in a shortened season it will look bad.”
And it’s looked bad for the Canucks this year. The real story, however, is the organization is burning another season of the twins when they’re at or near their prime. This may come as a news flash to some misguided souls, but the twins are the two best players in Canucks history and we won’t see their kind again for a generation. With a little help, they can still take this team places, but they can’t do it with the lineup that’s currently around them.
They don’t see it that way, of course. They think it’s their responsibility to lead this team out of the wilderness and if they don’t have enough help, then that’s the way it’s got to be.
Daniel, for his part, looked like he was ready to join the fight on Tuesday night. He also looked like he wanted to be a lot more than not terrible.
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