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

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

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Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.