Canucks and Beyond

Ready for the Playoffs

04/02/2007 at 2:30pm EDT
The Sedins are ready for the playoffs, even if I'm not. From CanWest News Service, Iain MacIntyre looks at how the Sedins have evolved from being considered "soft" to being eager to get into the battle. A quote from Willie Mitchell points out that things weren't always this way:
"I remember playing against them in Minnesota and they'd probably tell you they were a little soft out there. They've changed. They relish these games. I think it brings out the best in them."When you're being physical, you need to be aggressive. And when you're aggressive, you're leaning into them and they're strong enough on their feet to spin off and create chances. We've seen that all year -- teams that play aggressive against them with their defence, Daniel and Henrik really have some good success. They've changed a lot."
I've never bought into the idea that the Sedins were "soft", actually. They bounced off people and landed on their asses a lot, but always seemed to get up, ready for more. The difference this season -- as Mitchell says -- is that they're stronger on their feet, able to move through the violence coming their way rather than having to get back up off the ice. And as MacIntyre says, now they're using the aggression of opposing teams to their advantage. Rather than just surviving it, they're thriving on it.
Clearly, they are not backing down from opponents, but winding up. Not long ago considered passive, the Sedins recently incited Anaheim Ducks defenceman Scott Niedermayer, which is like getting Mister Rogers to go postal."Guys are trying to get us off our game, going for the big hit," Henrik said. "But if you're feeling good and see them coming, you can spin off checks and make those five-foot passes to create chances. [Aggression] is something we like, something we look for."
So they're ready for violence... but are they rested enough? Apparently. Henrik's per-game ice time is only 18:23 and Daniel's is 18:02 -- 75th and 89th respectively, among all NHL forwards. And as MacIntyre points out, that's a good thing,
Vigneault has superbly defined roles and made most Canucks feel valued, which undoubtedly has contributed to their chemistry and success. But by using the Sedins about two-minutes-per-game less than the average first-line NHL player -- Tampa's Martin St. Louis leads all forwards with 24:14 of nightly ice time -- Vigneault has also helped keep his best players energized and positioned to handle more work at playoff time. And, god knows, the Sedins want to."Not getting those 20 minutes a night and getting rest, we feel really good right now," Daniel said. "Usually, in March, you're a little tired. But we feel really good. It's going to help in the playoffs for sure."
Post-Script: In no way related, but amusing, I see that THN's NHL Players Poll voted Sean Avery the most hated player... and the most overrated:
“I’m shocked,” says the New York Rangers celebrated shift disturber upon discovering other players in the league nominated him as the NHL’s most hated player in a league-wide player poll conducted by The Hockey News. “I would have been disappointed if it wasn’t me.”But elation soon turns to disbelief when Avery finds out he was also voted the most overrated player, too.“What?” he says. “You’ve got to be kidding me. I’ve never really heard anybody say I was good. Did you put candidates on the ballot?”No, we did not.“Then how come Shane Doan wasn’t named most overrated,” Avery continues. “Hey, if I’m going to take shots, I’m going to dish them out, too.”
Geez, sometimes Mondays are fun.

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