Canucks need more from the Sedin twins in tight playoff games

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There was an interesting moment in the Vancouver Canucks’ Game 7 match against the Chicago Blackhawks. Henrik Sedin had a ridiculous amount of open space late in that contest, but he elected to make a nice pass instead. Many people critiqued the decision on Twitter, but people ignored one basic fact: that’s just the kind of the player that Henrik Sedin is.

For mostly better but occasionally worse, the Sedin twins are who they are. A lot of sportswriters want to question their “heart” or toughness during their recent struggles, but the twins are dominant because of their synchronicity and intellect, so blaming a lack of brawn seems to miss the point. It’s also important to note that they haven’t been totally useless in the playoffs; Daniel has five goals and two assists for seven points while Henrik has five assists in Vancouver’s nine postseason games.

That being said, the team needs more from Daniel Sedin and his doppelganger than what they’ve been getting lately.

Dave Bolland began their slump

It all seemed to fall apart once Dave Bolland returned for the Blackhawks in Game 4. Since then, Henrik only has one point* and a -7 rating while Daniel has two goals and a -6 rating in their last six games. The smothering defense of the Canucks’ last three games have resulted in goose eggs for those transfixing, robotic ginger twins (neither player managed to score a single point in the last three games).

On one hand, it’s fair to blame tough matchups for their struggles. It’s not crazy to follow the pattern of more Bolland = more frustration for the Sedin twins. The Nashville Predators provide an even tougher collective task for the Sedin twins considering their elite defensive duo of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, Vezina Trophy nominee Pekka Rinne and fleet of checking forwards.

Still, it’s not a great sign when an opposing coach moves his top guns to another line.

In Saturday night’s game, the twins received the ultimate diss when Predators coach Barry Trotz moved his shut-down tandem of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter off them and on to Ryan Kesler’s line.

If you’re expecting the Sedins to panic, then you haven’t been following these even-keeled Swedes for very long.

Ultimately, the Sedin twins must overcome challenges

While the buck stops at them, the other thing that is plaguing those cycling clones might be a lack of a great complimentary linemate.

Alex Burrows’ mixture of goal scoring ability and space-opening grit was a great match for the Sedin twins during much of the 2010-11 season, but he has been playing on Ryan Kesler’s line for much of the playoffs. As a result, the Sedins have skated with Mikael Samuelsson and other wingers without finding an ideal fit.

It won’t be easy – and it might be a bit much to expect an explosion of points, even if they do break through – but if the Sedins want to truly be considered elite, they need to perform in the playoffs. Tonight’s Game 3 match will be another great test, especially since Predators coach Barry Trotz will decide how which players will attempt to limit the cerebral siblings.

* It’s silly to linger on the fact that Henrik doesn’t have a goal, though. He’s always been the “Passing Sedin.” In his Hart Trophy 2009-10 season, 83 of his 112 points came from assists. That trend continued this season, as 75 of his 94 points were helpers

The Buzzer: Eichel beats McDavid; More Vegas gold

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Player of the Night: Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres

So far in their careers, Connor McDavid comparisons haven’t been kind to Jack Eichel. To be fair, just about every other NHL player pales in comparison to McDavid, but Eichel gets it the worst because he was selected right behind McDavid in the 2015 NHL Draft.

McDavid’s enjoyed a deep playoff run and piled up some impressive hardware, yet Eichel got the best of number 97 for at least one night. As part of a 5-0 win for the Sabres against the Oilers, Eichel generated a goal and three assists.

If you haven’t noticed, Eichel’s been playing some of the best hockey even before Tuesday. With 10 points in his last five games, he’s enjoying the most productive stretch of his young career.

It was outrageous to place Buffalo’s blame on Eichel, so hopefully this torrid run at least turns down the volume on his critics.

Highlights of the Night:

We saw the nasty side of Brad Marchand with this questionable hit, but this goal was very, very nice:

This Shea Theodore outlet pass is so slick, it’s almost tough to keep your eye on it. William Karlsson scored yet again, and the Golden Knights won once again.

You may also enjoy Travis Konecny’s overtime game-winner, which you can check out here.

Factoids

The Boston Bruins’ run continues, while the Avalanche’s winning streak ended.

Vegas Golden Knights zero in on more records for expansion teams. Remarkable stuff.

From remarkably great to almost unspeakably bad: how can the Oilers’ penalty kill be this ineffective?

Some key bits from tonight

Panthers, Stars brawl.

Canadiens end Avalanche’s winning streak at 10.

Flyers edge Red Wings in OT.

Possible injury for Joe Thornton?

Goalie injuries also cause for concern.

Scores

Bruins 3, Devils 2
Penguins 3, Hurricanes 1
Canadiens 4, Avalanche 2
Flyers 3, Red Wings 2 (OT)
Blues 3, Senators 0
Lightning 4, Predators 3 (OT)
Stars 6, Panthers 1
Sabres 5, Oilers 0
Canucks 6, Kings 2
Golden Knights 6, Blue Jackets 3
Ducks 6, Rangers 3
Jets 5, Sharks 4 (OT)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Fights: Stars, Panthers pile up season-high 138 penalty minutes

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When you think of the Dallas Stars against the Florida Panthers, a few things might come to mind:

  • No state income taxes, if you’re an unrestricted free agent.
  • “Non-traditional franchises.”
  • Going further on that point, arguably examples of Gary Bettman’s vision in expanding the league’s scope.

You probably don’t think “blood rivals,” but maybe Tuesday will change that. Perhaps it was triggered in part by a misunderstanding about James Reimer‘s injury, or maybe because Antoine Roussel is Antoine Roussel, yet either way, things got pretty nasty between the Stars and Panthers on Tuesday.

The two teams piled up a whopping 138 penalty minutes in this one, which is great for lovers of chaos and/or fantasy hockey owners.

According to Sportsnet’s stats, that’s the highest combined PIM for a game so far in 2017-18. Somehow Matthew Tkachuk wasn’t even involved.

Again, it was a little senseless, which admittedly is sometimes the most entertaining form of violence.

¯_(ツ)_/¯

The Stars pummeled the Panthers 6-1, by the way.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Sharks’ Hertl ejected; Joe Thornton injured?

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Brad Marchand isn’t the only player who delivered a questionable hit on Tuesday, as Tomas Hertl of the San Jose Sharks is also likely to draw the attention of the Department of Player Safety.

Hertl received a game misconduct and major penalty for boarding Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, as you can see in the video above this post’s headline.

For whatever it’s worth, Hertl, 24, hasn’t been suspended in the NHL. It seems like Kulikov suffered at least some ill effects from the hit.

Some put at least a portion of blame on Kulikov for turning his back before the check.

Is the major penalty sufficient or should Hertl sit for that hit?

Update: The Jets ended up beating the Sharks 4-3 in overtime, but the bigger concern for San Jose is that Joe Thornton might be injured. More information may not come for a while.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Should Brad Marchand be suspended for elbow on Marcus Johansson?

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Much has been made of Brad Marchand cleaning up his act, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Boston Bruins forward has totally stopped blurring the line between “physical” and “illegal” play.

Marchand was everywhere in the Bruins’ 3-2 win against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, and that was mostly in a good way, scoring a goal and an assist, easily leading all forwards with 20:06 time on ice.

Devils fans were unhappy when Marchand wasn’t penalized for a highly questionable elbow on forward Marcus Johansson. You can watch the infraction in the video above this post. You can also see it in GIF form below.

NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty reports that the Department of Player Safety is aware of the elbow, and supplemental discipline may come:

Again, many recall other incidents with Marchand, so plenty were unhappy with the situation:

What do you think? Is a suspension appropriate in this case?

More on the Bruins:How will they cope without Charlie McAvoy?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.