There are plenty of good teams in the Western Conference, but is there a true “favorite” this year? The “unproven” status of the St. Louis Blues and the various issues for other contenders* makes me reflexively insert the Vancouver Canucks in that category. Yet there’s that nagging question: will Daniel Sedin be healthy?
“Healthy” might be a relative term, but TSN reports that an unnamed Canucks executive said the “shooting Sedin” should “be fine for next week.”
Henrik Sedin provided some pretty positive feedback about his brother’s recovery.
“Early on, maybe (Daniel had concern), but as time has moved on he’s felt better and better,” Henrik said.
Daniel Sedin is fighting off concussion symptoms and has been sidelined since Duncan Keith’s controversial elbow in a March 21 match. (Keith received a five-game suspension for his bad deeds.)
The playoffs officially begin on Wednesday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Canucks’ first round will start then. That might depend on where they rank as far as seeding is concerned (stay tuned for the schedule to roll out on Sunday), yet it seems like the odds are in favor of the Sedin twins being reunited once the games start to really matter.
* – Some are awful on the road, others lack offensive punch, defensive savvy and stable goaltending. A few might even suffer from all of the above
I’ve run into a few identical twins that were actually semi-distinguishable, but to be fair, they were attractive women who warranted a few extra looks. Most would probably agree that the Sedin twins could pull off the “switch jerseys and no one would really notice” routine with relative ease (aside from maybe No. 33 suddenly taking more shots than No. 22).
Pass it to Bulis passes along the twins’ amusing/disturbing self-portraits via this Swedish newspaper, which shows that they don’t have identical artistic skills:
So if we lived in alternate universe in which self-portraits took human form, it would be super-easy to tell the two apart. Henrik (on the left) would look pretty much the same aside from his creepy dead eyes. Daniel (right side in photo), however, would have an unsettling grin and a misshapen face.
In a rare instance, reality > fantasy, at least if you ask me.
(H/T to Puck Daddy)
For several years, Pavel Datsyuk was considered something of a hockey connoisseur’s Hart Trophy pick. Despite scoring at a great rate in just about every season, he always seemed resigned to settle for a Selke Trophy because Datsyuk fell a few strides short of being a top scorer.
It seemed that would happen again this season, but all of a sudden the ludicrously slick forward is making a meteoric rise up the scoring ranks, as Ansar Khan discusses here.
With 11 goals and 30 assists in his last 30 games, Datsyuk’s 51 overall points ties him with Steven Stamkos and Joffrey Lupul for third place overall in the NHL.
The Sedin twins and Evgeni Malkin will surely give Datsyuk everything he can handle in the Art Ross Trophy race, but considering his fantastic two-way play and eye-grabbing style, one cannot help but wonder if he’ll finally get serious Hart consideration from the guys who cast the ballots.
Who’s your early NHL MVP, then?
Early on in the season, it seemed like some tough playoff moments might have broken Roberto Luongo’s psyche. The Vancouver Canucks didn’t seem so hot, either, beyond the clockwork reliability of the Sedin twins.
Much like their fellow 2011 Stanley Cup finalists in Boston, the Canucks have straightened things out to the point that they’re back alongside the league’s elites. Vancouver widened their Northwest Division lead over the Minnesota Wild by five points thanks to Luongo’s 3-0 shutout and rose to the No. 1 spot in the NHL’s standings in the process.
Naturally, the standings can be deceiving given imbalanced amounts of games played at this point. Here’s a quick-and-dirty look at the league’s top five teams based on points:
Vancouver: 25-13-3 for 53 points (41 games played)
Rangers: 24-9-4 for 52 points (37 GP)
Chicago: 24-11-4 for 52 points (39 GP)
Boston: 25-10-1 for 51 points (36 GP)
Detroit: 25-13-1 for 51 points (39 GP)
As you can see, the four teams “below” the Canucks have at least two games to vault over them. At this point in the season, it’s doubtful that these teams are doing much scoreboard watching, although the Blackhawks and Red Wings might be the exception since they’re in the same Central Division.
The big picture takeaway is still very positive for the Canucks, though. Luongo is playing well enough to (temporarily) silence his critics and support players are easing some of the scoring burden on the Sedins.
After those early hiccups, it seems likely that the Canucks are going to be fixtures once the playoffs roll around.
Dave Bolland made waves when he called the Sedin twins “sisters” among other insults, so it comes as no surprise that he changed course a bit. Everyone has a different sniff test, but his excuse actually seems semi-feasible to me. He more or less claimed that he was hamming it up on a radio show, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc.
“I’ve got the utmost respect for the Sedin twins and for Alain Vigneault and all the Vancouver Canucks,” Bolland said. “It was just a little bit of tongue-in-cheek that we had at the little radio show with some of the fans. I’ve got the utmost respect for Vancouver and what they do and what they do on the ice and how they do it. Both of us have a great rivalry going during this season.”
OK, so there’s a solid chance he backpedaled (er, clarified) his statements because a Blackhawks PR guy got to him, but I can picture a scenario in which Bolland felt the urge to troll the Canucks. (Then again maybe he’s stealth trolling them again with an ode to Ricky Bobby’s “Will all due respect …”)
Let’s face it though, when the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks trash-talk each other in the media, it doesn’t really change much in the grand scheme of things. Maybe it alters the material a bit (I picture a “Who are the sisters now?” taunt if the Canucks handle the Hawks on Jan. 31), but the two teams share about as much animosity as huge groups of wealthy athletes can. They can’t really dislike each other more after beating the tar out of each other in three straight playoff years, so this is really just fodder.
So in the end, it entertains us all, which I think everyone can agree is the most important thing.