So the Canucks are holding down the final Western Conference playoff spot after 20 games and would be out of the playoffs if points percentage were the measure. Not exactly what most expected – including us here at The Hockey News (we picked them to win the West, then the Stanley Cup).
My suggestion: break up the twins.
Now, before you go trying to find my home address, take a deep breath and hear me out.
The stats say the Canucks are tied with four teams for 12th in goals-for per game and 13th in goals against, are first in power play percentage and fifth in penalty killing. Doesn’t take a genius to see Vancouver is pretty mediocre 5-on-5 and pretty darn good on specialty teams.
The Sedins are doing what they always do, Daniel is top five in goals scored and Henrik is leading the league in assists. But Alexandre Burrows, Mikael Samuelsson, Mason Raymond and to a certain extent Ryan Kesler are off to slow starts. The first three totalled 90 goals last season and are on pace for 39; Kesler is scoring, but is on pace for 20 fewer points.
I know Burrows is 10 games into a return from summer shoulder surgery, which threw the top two lines off to begin the campaign, but a quarter of the season is gone and every point counts in a league where you can move up in the standings with a loss. Time is of the essence.
I also know the Sedins are uber-skilled, have a preternatural ability to find one another on the ice and are arguably the best duo in the NHL. But this is about getting the players around them going.
I’m not talking about a long-term change here. And I’m not proposing messing with that top-ranked power play. I’m just saying, flip-flop Henrik with Kesler 5-on-5 and have the former center Burrows and Raymond. Just see what happens. Maybe Henrik’s passing ability lights a fire on the blades of guys not named Daniel and gets them their swagger back.
Maybe, too, Henrik will find his assertiveness as a shooter. He showed last season he can score and the twins were at the top of their games when that was the case. But he’s back to his old ways with two goals and 22 assists, on pace for fewer tallies than faceoff/defensive specialist Manny Malhotra.
Worst case, the split is a failed, short-lived experiment. Best case, the Canucks get back to the high-flying team that finished third in the league in 5-on-5 goals last season.
Call me crazy, call me whatever you like, but break up the twins. Just for a while.
This article was originally published in Metro News. For more hockey commentary, check out Metro Sports.