Throughout the second round of the Western Conference, the Sedin twins were being criticized by pundits and people who pretend to be pundits, such as myself, for not doing enough, if much of anything against the Nashville Predators.
It was fairly well known that the Predators played some pretty good defence and also had one of the top five goalies in the league stopping pucks for them. Yet Henrik and Daniel, one a Hart Trophy winner, the other a Hart Trophy nominee this year, are two of the best players in all the NHL.
They are supposed to play at a dominating level against anyone. At least, that’s what superstar players are supposed to do. But the Sedins couldn’t get much scoring done and didn’t play a whole lot of defence. Exactly the things Ryan Kesler was doing as he helped the Canucks take care of and finish off the Predators.
The big question going into Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the San Jose Sharks was would the Sedins step up?
The answer to that question is yes. While Daniel didn’t see his name on the score sheet, Henrik was good for two points; an assist and the eventual game-winning goal. The playmaking twins were able to handle what the Sharks brought at them and weren’t flustered against them and goalie Antti Niemi, who actually had a very solid game as he saved 35 of 38 shots.
The funny thing about Game 1 was that Kesler, who was doing everything right in round 2, was the man partly responsible for getting the Sedins going, by being off the ice.
Game 1 started off with Kesler being matched-up against Joe Thornton and the two battled against each other until late in the second period. At that point, head coach Alain Vigneault decided to switch things up to try and slow Thornton down, as he was pretty much doing whatever he wanted.
Vigneault put in the Sedins to go up against Thornton, replacing Kesler, and it was at that point the Sedins got their groove back. They started working hard, moving smoothly with the puck, creating scoring opportunities for themselves and their teammates. Then finally, their work and determination paid off as they teamed up to create the opportunity for Kevin Bieska to score the Canucks’ second goal of the game and tie things up at 2-2.
Putting the Sedins on the ice when Thornton was on allowed the two of them to get more time in the zone and create more offence. Exactly what you want out of your two best offensive forwards. Now we’ll have to see if they keep it up for Game 2 and watch what match-ups Sharks’ head coach Todd McLellan might throw out to stop the Sedins.