Vancouver Will Need Henrik and Daniel to Lead Offense
If Vancouver plans to head out to Calgary for game three with a series split, they’re going to need their most productive players to produce.
Game one of the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames quarter-final series saw Vancouver trail for a grand total of 29.6 seconds. To their dismay this was the last 29.6 seconds, after Calgary, who tied for the league lead with 99 third period goals in the regular season, clawed all the way back on third period goals by David Jones and later Kris Russell in the final minute.
Eddie Lack made 28 saves in his playoff debut and Jonas Hiller was the catalyst for Calgary keeping the game close, with 29 saves and robbing Vancouver on several occasions.
What we did see was Henrik and Daniel Sedin, paired on a line with old friend Alex Burrows, pepper Hiller with shots and chances early and often. But when the Canucks needed a momentum shift in the third and desperately needed a goal, the Sedin’s were essentially no where to be seen. Of Henrik’s 17:29 time on ice in game 1 and Daniel’s 16:14, neither played more than five minutes in the third period. Only two Canucks forwards played less in the final frame than Daniel and Henrik, the respective 8th and 10th overall league point leaders in the regular season.
Sedin’s At Their Best When Not Overworked
A case can easily be made that the Sedin’s are more productive when they’re fresh and not eating up too many minutes. Last season, under John Tortorella’s reign of terror, Henrik was 10th in TOI/G for forwards in the league at 20:40, while Daniel was 12th at 20:36. They combined for only 97 points. In the regular season this year, Henrik was 50th in this category, averaging 18:37, and Daniel was 61st, at 18:21, and they combined for 149 points. For the record, in their respective Art Ross seasons, Henrik ranked 37th in TOI/G at 19:41 (2009-10), and Daniel ranked 72nd at 18:33 (2010-11).
Willie Desjardins stated after game 1 that there was “no sense” in burning the Sedin’s out in game 1, reiterating that if they’re not fresh then they won’t be as successful. But this begs the question, after Calgary tied game 1 of the playoffs with 12:01 to go in third, what bigger situation are you saving them for?
We’ve seen coach Willie Desjardins roll four forward lines on a consistent basis all season, and rightfully so.
With Sedins/Burrows Vrbata Hansen Matthias #Canucks have a 15+ goal scorer on every line
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) April 15, 2015
In game one of this series no Canucks forward played less than 12:46. But the difference between a good regular season team and a great playoff team is the leaders of a team stepping up when needed most. In game 1 against Calgary, the Sedin’s had a number of great scoring chances, but faded away as the game went along and the stakes got higher.
Despite only missing the playoffs once since their Stanley Cup Finals run in 2011, Vancouver has only won 1 playoff game since their game seven loss to the Boston Bruins, including seven straight home playoff losses. If the Canucks are going to change their playoff fortunes, they will need to rely on the Sedin’s to lead the way offensively, regardless if they are “fresh” or not.