Under Pressure: The Sedins

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The simple explanation for why the Vancouver Canucks didn’t make the playoffs last season is that they were ineffective offensively. They averaged just 2.33 goals per game, which put them ahead of only the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers.

Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin are by far their best offensive weapons and they didn’t deliver last season. The former Art Ross Trophy winners combined for just 27 goals and 97 points. And yet if it were suggested that they were to blame for the Canucks’ downfall, or that their collapse was an indication that they’re over the hill at the age of 33 (34 on Sept. 26), there would be strong push-back.

The Sedin twins were largely spared from the fans’ ire despite their rough season because the Canucks’ offensive woes were instead blamed on former head coach John Tortorella. That isn’t just the opinion of those outside of the franchise either. President of hockey operations Trevor Linden suggested that Tortorella having the twins block shots and kill penalties “was a misuse of their abilities.”

Henrik added that the twins wanted to become the two-way players that Tortorella was looking for, but ultimately they “may have had a tough time combining the two.”

Tortorella’s gone now and it’s likely that new bench boss Willie Desjardins will allow the twins to return to their roots. The expectation is that that will have a positive impact on the Sedins, but what if it doesn’t? What if Henrik and Daniel finish 2014-15 with around 50 points each? Without Tortorella around to serve as a lightning rod, the blame might shift to the twins themselves.

That’s not to suggest that Daniel and Henrik will struggle; it’s just that the onus is more firmly pinned on them than it was last season. Especially given that their matching four-year, $28 million contracts run through 2017-18.