Jeff Paterson: Role reversals
For all of their years in Canuck colours, it has simply been an accepted truth about the Sedins – Daniel is the goal scorer and Henrik is his able accomplice feeding him those passes that allow him to find the back of the net.
And when they’re both healthy and in the line-up, the twins have used that formula to become one of the top one-two offensive punches in the National Hockey League. But as anyone who has watched the Canucks this season is well-aware, Daniel hasn’t been healthy nor in the line-up.
And Henrik, well, he hasn’t really been Henrik – at least not the play-making twin Canuck fans have become so familiar with over the years. In his brother’s absence, Henrik has developed a nose for the net and, after recording the first hat trick of his NHL career on Saturday in Denver, he now leads the hockey club with a dozen goals on the season.
So we have to ask: which Sedin will finish the season with more goals?
At first glance, the double-digit goal edge for Henrik hardly seems insurmountable for a proven goal-scorer like his brother. But at the same time, Daniel’s basically starting his season over, may require a little time to find his scoring touch and who knows what Henrik’s total will be before Daniel gets his first one.
With 12 goals in 21 games this season, Henrik’s on pace for 47 goals – more than double the career-best 22 he scored last season. Now, even Henrik would have to admit he’s not likely to push the 50-goal mark. It’s just not who he is or what his game is all about. But with the start he’s had, it’s hard to think that Henrik won’t score 25 goals and he’s put himself in position now to take pretty good run at 30.
Daniel, on the other hand, has yet to score a goal this season and now has 61 games remaining to do his damage. Daniel has scored 60 goals over the past two years, so let’s make the safe assumption that he would have potted 30 had he played the full season. But he now has to make up for lost time and a 30-goal scorer playing three-quarters of a season projects out to around 22 goals for the year.
It’s natural to assume that Daniel’s return will cut into Henrik’s goal production to some degree. But Henrik can’t allow himself to revert to always being the playmaker. Even with Daniel in the line-up, Henrik has to continue doing what he’s been doing and shooting the puck when he has opportunities.
Only once in their eight years in the league has Henrik outscored Daniel. It was the twins’ second season with the Canucks (2001-02) when Henrik had 16 goals to Daniel’s nine. Since then, however, the two have settled into their separate roles – Daniel as the triggerman and Henrik as one of the top set-up guys in the NHL.
Over the past four seasons, Daniel and Henrik have combined to score 40, 46, 44 and 53 goals for the Vancouver Canucks with Daniel always leading the way. That may change this year. But a quick look at the numbers reveals that that change may have begun late last year when over the final 27 games of the season Henrik outscored Daniel 12-6. Add on all that’s taken place so far this season and Henrik has bagged 24 of the last 30 goals scored by a Sedin.
It goes without saying that the Sedins want to perform at the highest level possible and contribute as much as they can to greater good of the team. But there is – and always has been – a natural sibling rivalry and anyone that knows them is well aware that they are highly competitive individuals in all they do.
So now that Daniel’s back on the ice, you can bet that he wants to reel in his brother in the goal scoring department. But can he overcome Henrik’s 12-goal head-start? That’s a sizeable edge.
The best case scenario for the hockey club is that Henrik continues to score on a regular basis and that Daniel catches fire upon his return to action and that both eclipse the 25 goal mark by season’s end. Having the two playing together again should be a boost for the Vancouver Canucks and should cause problems for their opponents. But it also presents an interesting race -- and a game within the game -- to see which Sedin will come out on top in the goal-scoring department this season.