Jeff Paterson: Twin Peaks
Is it possible for Daniel and Henrik to finish 1 and 2 in the League scoring at the end of the year?
They claim it serves as no motivation and on one level you have no choice but to believe Daniel and Henrik Sedin – both have been there and done that and have the hardware to prove it.
But on another, and after watching their mastery of Minnesota on Monday night at Rogers Arena, you have to wonder if the last two Art Ross trophy winners as National Hockey League scoring leaders aren’t trying to push the limits to see if their many talents might just take them to another level and to a place they’ve never been together.
With a goal and two assists against the Wild, Henrik pulled into a share of the NHL scoring lead with 39 points. And with three helpers including a sublime cross-slot set up of his brother’s goal that opened the scoring and stood up as the winner in a 4-0 victory over the Canucks’ Northwest Division rival, Daniel was just one point back in the league scoring parade.
Could the Sedins finish the season as the top two scorers in the NHL this season?
They say it’s nothing they’re thinking about at this point. But given the rate at which they’re racking up points, it’s certainly a possibility and something worth watching as the second-half of the schedule unfolds to see if they can ascend the scoring charts to finish higher than they did last year when Daniel lead the league with 104 points and Henrik wasn’t far behind in fourth with 94. The year before when Henrik wore the crown, Daniel, who missed 19 games that season, finished tied for 11th.
So they’ve been up there, but never at the very top together. And right now they’ve put themselves in position to make that happen although there is still more than half a season remaining and they’re in the company of a number of other very talented point producers.
For the twins, it’s all about playing well and doing their part to help the Canucks have success. If they’re doing that, history has shown the points will follow. And as the Canucks have gone on an 11-2-1 run in their last 14 games to close the gap on the Wild atop the division, it can be no surprise at all that they’ve been led by Henrik Sedin with three goals and 15 assists during that span and Daniel who’s contributed seven goals and eight assists.
“We know we have to be producing for us to be successful as a team and that’s our motivation,” Henrik said when asked about the importance of getting back to the top of the scoring heap. “If that means we’re going to have 82 points this year or 90 or whatever it is, it doesn’t really matter for us as long as our team is winning. And that’s our focus.”
With two more assists on Monday, Henrik held the league-lead in that department on his own with 30 so far this season. He and Daniel share the league-lead with 18 power play points apiece. And the Canucks success with the man-advantage is one of the key factors that could ultimately allow the Sedins to be the league’s top scorers this season.
The power play went two for three against the Wild and is now clicking at 26.1% which is nearly five percent better than the next closest team and almost 10 percent better than the 15th best power play – or an average PP – in the NHL.
And compared to last year, when the Canucks led the league with the best power play at 24.3%, this year’s group has found a way to make that facet of its special teams even more special by a couple of percentage points.
The Sedins are the engine that powers the power play and they show no signs of cooling any time soon. And so the thought of Henrik and Daniel rising above the rest certainly isn’t out of the question.
Even if it’s not something they’re thinking about it.
“It never has been,” Daniel says of making the scoring derby a family affair. “Even the last few years when we won it, that’s something we didn’t really look at. We know our role on this team and that’s to produce. At the same time, we want to play a steady defensive game, too, and we don’t want to be giving up goals. That’s our game and we don’t focus anything on the scoring race.”
Fair enough for now. But the longer Daniel and Henrik Sedin stay in the hunt – and there is no reason to believe either will fade away -- the more others around the hockey world will focus on what would truly be a remarkable and now attainable achievement.