2011 NHL Playoffs: Is the Criticism of Daniel and Henrik Sedin Warranted?

Joel ProsserCorrespondent IMay 10, 2011

NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 09:  Daniel Sedin #22, Henrik Sedin #33, and Ryan Kesler #17of the Vancouver Canucks celebrate after a goal against Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals at the Bridgestone Arena on May 9, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Overshadowed by the inspired heroics of Ryan Kesler in the second round is the widespread criticism of Henrik and Daniel Sedin for their lack of production, The Globe and Mail Reports.

The Sedins have been fighting criticism that they are soft players who can't, or won't, show up in the playoffs like they do in the regular season.

There is some basis to this.

In the regular season, Daniel won the Art Ross trophy with 104 points in 82 games, a 1.27 point per game pace. Henrik finished fourth in scoring with 94 points in 82 games, which was 1.15 points per game.

In the playoffs, Daniel has six goals and four assists in 13 games, good for 0.77 points per game. Henrik has one goal and eight assists in 13 games, which is a 0.69 point per game pace.

There obviously has been a drop-off in production.

However, I think it is unfair to rip the Sedins as playoff non-performers, as there are other factors.

First, there is another team on the ice that has something to do with the overall score. 

Through the first two rounds, the twins had to deal with a Team Canada, Norris Trophy calibre defenceman every time they stepped on the ice, first with Duncan Keith in Chicago and then with Shea Weber in Nashville.

Aside from the defence matchup, they also had the top checking line out against them as well.

They also were running up against a pair of very hot goalies in both series. Corey Crawford had a 0.927 save percentage against the Canucks

Vezina Trophy nominated Pekka Rinne stopped 177 of 190 shots during the Canucks/Predators series, good for a 0.931 save percentage.

Second, the twins are still getting their chances. Daniel Sedin is actually second overall in shots by a forward with 55 (James van Riemsdyk of the eliminated Flyers has 70).

Henrik, never known as the shooter in the family, still has 28 shots, which places him a respectable 24th overall in playoff shots by a forward. 

This gets back to the first point, but Rinne is just awesome. The twins combined for 44 shots in the second round series and only got two goals out of it, one of which was an empty netter.

The Sedins are also the engine that drives the Canuck's power play, which is running at a respectable 22.2 percent. Even if they don't get points on every power play goal, it is their passing that sets up the scoring chances.

So the Sedins are still generating chances, they just are getting robbed.

Third, the Sedins are opening space up for the rest of the team.

As I just mentioned in the second point, they are still getting plenty of chances, even if they aren't going in nearly as frequently as they did in the regular season. 

The opposition has to respect the Sedins and play their top defensive pairs and shutdown lines against them. 

This opens up all sorts of space and time for Ryan Kesler to work his magic, as well as helping the secondary scorers in general. 

Fourth, Henrik is playing hurt, I think.

This hasn't been confirmed by the team, but that is par for the course in the NHL playoffs. 

What has been reported by beat reporters for the Team 1040 (Vancouver Sports Radio) and Sportsnet Pacific is that Henrik is spending extra time in the trainer's room after games, long after the rest of the team has departed. 

Henrik has also left the bench at various times at the series to go to the dressing room when the game was on the line. He would then return after missing a few shifts.

Either he is having chronic equipment problems, or he is getting medical treatment.

His ice time is also down. In the series clinching Game 6 win against Nashville, he only played 17:47, down from his playoff average of 20:42. Late in the third period, there was an occasion where Henrik sat on the bench and got extra rest while Daniel double shifted with Kesler and Burrows.

When was the last time you saw the Sedins separated unless one was in the penalty box?

Henrik also seems to be losing puck battles along the boards during the cycle, the bread and butter of the Sedin's play, far more frequently later in the Nashville series.

All signs point to Henrik having some sort of nagging injury that hasn't kept him out of the lineup, but is hampering his play. 

Not that being injured is an excuse, after all we laud hockey players who play injured and still produce. But being injured is a legitimate reason to help explain his lack of production. 

Overall, the Sedin's lack of production on the scoreboard is troubling. But given the situation as a whole, I don't think the playoff non-performer label is totally fair.

They aren't playoff heroes, yet, but they aren't playoff goats either.