One of the lasting memories of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals was Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand repeatedly punching Vancouver Canucks captain Henrik Sedin in the head without retribution. Since that moment, questions about the toughness of Henrik and Daniel Sedin have swirled around.
You’ve all heard the “Sedin Sisters” put-down.
It might as well have been their reputation Marchand was pummeling.
Are the Sedins soft? Do they have the toughness to carry the Canucks to a Stanley Cup victory?
The answer is tough to come by.
First off, is the soft reputation even a fair one?
Some might argue that the Sedins led the Canucks to within one game of winning the whole thing. While that is true, their disappearance during the finals was also a reason they lost.
Now, there is some speculation as to how hurt one or both of them were during the finals and that may have played a factor, but their playoff history shows that they can be pushed around.
Anyone who watches the Sedins on a regular basis has seen how strong they can be on the puck when they get into their cycle game. Defensemen will bludgeon them without being able to stop them from moving the puck and eventually finding one another for a golden scoring chance.
So, in that sense they have shown toughness.
Then there is the diving.
Diving became the hot topic during the finals and the playoffs as a whole. Have the Sedins taken a fall here or there?
Yes, without a doubt they have embellished.
Do they do it more than other players or other teams? Does that make them soft?
No. Diving is somewhat of an epidemic in the entire league. The Sedins are just as guilty as others, but the problem is that Henrik and Daniel are high-profile players on a high-profile team.
Their dives are seen by the whole world.
It didn’t take long for the perception to become the reality. If you are wondering why Boston seemed to get away with murder during the finals it's because of that reputation.
If it’s that simple to stop them then why have they both led the league in scoring the past two years?
The answer may lie on the power play. The Canucks had the league’s best power play during the regular season. Any team that took too many liberties against the Sedins usually paid for it with two minutes and the puck in the back of the net.
That power play kept most teams from walking the line with Canucks and the Sedins.
Boston’s penalty kill was near-perfect in the finals. There was no fear of crossing the line and the Sedins were neutralized. The story was similar in the Nashville series.
Were the Sedins ineffective on the power play in those series because of the rough play they had to endure while at even strength?
Had Vancouver cashed in on their power plays, and they were given plenty, the Bruins would have had to back off the Sedins and you would have seen more production out of them.
That still doesn’t answer the questions about whether or not they are tough.
It is a long hockey tradition to go after the other team's top players, rough them up and take them out of their game.
What might be more concerning is that against Boston, no other Canucks player seemed to stand up for the Sedins.
Gretzky had McSorley, who does Henrik have?
If you look at the moves the Canucks have made this offseason, it seems that they are looking for their Marty McSorley. They even have offered a tryout to Todd Fedoruk. It seems desperate times call for desperate measures.
Can the Sedins grind out a Stanley Cup?
The jury is still out on that. The best thing Henrik and Daniel can do this upcoming season is not dive, play hard and hope that the Canucks can find someone who will stand up to the Brad Marchands of the world.
If not, they will have to endure more punches to the head this spring.