I promise I won’t mention anything about David Bolland or his comments in today’s post (from now on, of course), but I do want to talk a bit about the Sedins. The amount of criticism they receive isn’t really surprising. They are both humble, mild-mannered, clean players on the ice who do an immense amount of charity work and are fantastic human beings off the ice. So are why are some in the hockey world still criticising and mocking them? As we are starting to see with great frequency, winning and success breeds jealousy.
The Canucks have had some pretty notorious pests over the years with the likes of Matt Cooke, Jarkko Ruutu, and Vadim Sharifijanov (ok, kidding about that last one). Why weren’t those teams as hated as the one now? Again, winning and success breeds jealousy. We see it from players like Bolland and Mark Recchi, as well as those in the media, like Ron MacLean, Mike Milbury, and Barry Rozner.
Let’s get back to Henrik and Daniel. You can’t even fill one hand if you are trying to count players who are more fun to watch than these two. Like a video game, it seems that each summer they come back to Vancouver with a new trick, a new set play, or a new skill set in their offensive arsenal. Let’s take a look at some of the more notable and successful additions.
The Slap Pass
Although Henrik and Daniel don’t use this one as frequently as they used to, it garnered great success after they debuted it post NHL lockout. The premise of the move is simple, but the execution isn’t. One player takes a half-pass half-shot, right along the ice, aimed at the open stick blade of a teammate who has found a soft spot in the high slot. The puck is then redirected up, either to the left or right. It loses a lot of velocity with the direction occurring so far away from the net, but the goaltender is usually so far out of position that the puck finds a way in.
After the Sedins started using the move on a frequent basis, it was common to see other teams try it out. I am sure the slap pass was done effectively in previous NHL eras, but they reintroduced it with great success.
How to slap pass like a pro:
The Behind the Net Behind the Back Pass
Henrik Sedin is the best player in the league at this move, and it has helped both his brother and Alex Burrows get a ton of easy goals from about six inches away in front of an open net.
What it entails – a player carries the puck behind the net, usually on his strong side. He often draws a defenseman with him (following a Sedin behind the net is like trying to capture Coach Q smiling – a fruitless endeavor). The other defenseman is then left to defend against two forwards in front of the net. The goalie, as he is trained to do, follows the puck carrier around the net. Too bad said puck carrier has passed the puck behind his back to a teammate right at the open side of the net.
A Fine Behind the Net Behind the Back Pass:
The Power Play Zone Entry
The Sedins gain the offensive zone on the power play more easily and more consistently than any other players in the league (save for Pavel Datsyuk and Nick Lidstrom in Detroit, perhaps). They usually have a trailer behind the play who grabs the puck at center ice at full speed.
What they do a bit differently than other teams who use a trailer is that they position a player (usually Daniel) right on the blue line, on his strong side. He’ll take a pass, quickly skate in, and open up ice behind him for Henrik. It’s a subtle move but one that is near impossible to defend against. It also shows why playmakers and puck carriers often like playing on their strong side (left shot on left wing, right shot on right wing, and so on).
The Four on Four "Power Play"
Thanks to their proprietary technology (unbelievable hockey sense), the Sedins can turn any four-on-four situation into a man advantage. Why? Because they constantly force opposing players out of position. At even strength, there isn’t as much ice to exploit. At four-on-four, they can work their magic to perfection.
The Through the Goalies Legs Pass
Henrik unveiled this one last spring against San Jose, and he brought it back against Ottawa this past Saturday. It involves a ton of patience, and a goalie who has no idea what player he is up against. (Seriously, Henrik shooting the puck?)
One of the most creative passes you will ever see:
If you have a few more minutes to spare, here is some more wizardry:
Embrace the Hate, Canucks fans and continue to enjoy two of the world’s best.