The Sedins Can’t Carry a Line Anymore

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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin – USA TODAY Sports

The Sedin twins aren’t what they used to be, but who is at 36-years-old? Father time catches up with the best of us, and whether their games depended on youthful hallmarks like speed or physicality or not, they’re suffering it the same as anyone.

It’s not that they’re necessarily bad players. Far from it, even. Whether they have enough to carry a first line without help on a nightly basis is another question entirely. As the season continues and the pair drag onwards towards their lowest point rate over a full season since their fifth season, it becomes increasingly clear that answer is a resounding no.

In fairness to the Sedins, though, it’s not a question they likely anticipated responding to this season. The Canucks signed Loui Eriksson to a lucrative six-year contract with a spot alongside the Sedins in mind. Barring that, they had Jannik Hansen to fall back on.

Whether by circumstance or choice, the Sedins have played sparing with either since October. The best-laid plans, and so on. Let’s dig into exactly what kind of impact the alternatives are having on their ability to push play as the Canucks premier line.

It doesn’t take a terribly deep dive into the Sedins’ seasons to realize the effect their linemates are having isn’t a positive one. They’re middle of the pack among Canucks forwards by raw Corsi For, and on pace for just their second sub-50% season in the Behind the Net era. Their production, too, is at its lowest clip in that span.

That their output has fallen off shouldn’t be especially surprising. That’s a trend six-plus seasons in the works. Whether alongside good linemates or bad, we’re past the point where expecting them to produce like high-end first line players is irresponsible.

It probably doesn’t help that Henrik is playing with the single lowest quality of teammate of any Canuck, and Daniel isn’t terribly far ahead by that same regard.

Where that damage is especially profound isn’t on the Twins scoring, though. It’s on their ability to push favourable shot differentials on a night-to-night basis. Their scoring isn’t what it used to be, sure, but their ability to play a two-way solvent game has atrophied at a level that far exceeds their scoring.

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Henrik’s impact on his teammates’ ability to control shot attempts is at 7% of his peak level; I’d run a similar exercise with Daniel, if his mark allowed as much. They’re scoring at about 40% of their peak levels by points per hour.

It’s clear where the Sedins most need help. And we can reasonably surmise based on their game-to-game linemates and their ability to control play alongside them that they haven’t had that help in months.

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Where I can understand the decision to move Eriksson from their line is more about secondary scoring than anything itself, it’s come at a dear cost to the Canucks primary scoring and shot control. That matters, because even a team that rolls their lines to the extent Vancouver does is going to play their first unit considerably more than their second or third.

When the Canucks put players of quality alongside the Sedins, they perform like a first line. We don’t even need to look further than this season for evidence of just that. When Eriksson was on the Sedin line, the trio controlled 56.5% of on-ice shot attempts. That mark is higher than every single team in the NHL this season.

The Canucks can field a first line. Hell, they can field one of the better first lines in the NHL. They can’t do it with the Sedins dragging spare parts, though. That’s a luxury they just can’t afford at this stage in the Sedins’ respective careers. 

Every sign indicates this is a predicament the Canucks will toil with for the foreseeable future. Hansen is out long-term with injury, and in his stead Jayson Megna has filled the void.

They have alternatives. Whether it’s shuffling Eriksson back to the top line or getting creative with the likes of a Reid Boucher or Anton Rodin, they have options.

Whatever direction they choose, it’s likely difficult to find worse options than Brandon Sutter and Megna. The two of them have done something opposing teams have struggled with for the better part of a decade. They’ve shut the Sedins down.

  • Bud Poile

    Rehashing the obvious in Debbie Downer fashion is not enlightening,never mind interesting.

    Boucher and Rodin need conditioning. Throwing any name in with the Sedins is not helping matters.

  • wojohowitz

    Who the other winger is has not mattered much with the twins over their 15+ years as they have carried along whoever it was, although if they had a Stamkos type player right now their point totals would be greatly improved.

    The real indicator of their ability (or lack of) to dominate this season is their +/- which has not been negative since their rookie season.

    They are no longer first line players and one Canuck who has recognized this fact is Horvat who has elevated his game to assume the mantle of being the next first line center for years to come.

    There is a great 22 minute video out there of the twins controlling the play for minutes at a time over the course of their careers. They have been a pleasure to watch for all these years but sadly their end is near.

  • clutch fan

    Don’t really understand the neg feedback to the article in this case.

    The author is just stating the facts, there is no ill-will there and I understand the criticism is based more on JDs rep (self-induced) but no way it can relate to this piece.

    Sedins are exemplary representatives for the Canucks, and will continue to produce for us in the future, if they take team friendly deals and play in situations which reflect their current strengths and real value. The fact is that if the 2016-17 version of the Sedins played against the 2011-12 version, the earlier dated version would dominate every time.

    Both definitely fall in the top 3 of the most talented Canucks ever, after Pavel Bure, but the truth is that they can’t carry a Klatt/Carter/or Megna anymore.

    • Jabs

      I agree with this. Hansen has been the spark plug on the Sedin line in the last year ir so.
      I find it hard to justify keeping them together when Hansen isn’t in the line up unless Boucher will work well with them.

  • TD

    It’s time to let Horvat’s line play as the first line and the first PP. Give him the extra minutes against the tougher competition. Let the Sedins see the weaker D and second penalty kill unit. A lighter work load may also give them fresher legs. AND give them someone of quality to play with. The stats show Eriksson is the guy. The Sedins aren’t scoring right now and their offence is more important that Sutter and Granlunds.

  • Leo Union

    Article tells like it is, but the team is doing something right presently (oh yeah Tanev and Edler playing). Eriksson should be spending more time on Sedin’s line as well on 1st PP. What is it with having Sutter, sure he is a right shot but he sits in front of net on the weak side.

  • Bud Poile

    No,JD is taking a shot at the coach and management stating they don’t know what they are doing.

    Bo was -30 last year. Give him first line NHL minutes with a plug and Sven and this team would be struggling to stay in last place.

    The Sedins have carried this team for as long as most recent Canucks fans knew this team existed.

    The twins are playing first line minutes with a plug to give a weak offense the chance to score via their second and third lines.

    Megna is holding up his end but he is not Burrows,Hansen or even Sutter.

    Rodin has come off a potentially career-ending injury and the kid just claimed off waivers is tossed about as his skating is suspect. Suggesting either one of them should be inserted with the twins against the NHL’s premiere players does disservice to the twins,management and common sense.

    The twins are winners and franchise players because they are unselfish and gifted. Right now they are shutting down first line NHL players with an AHL’er on their wing.

    This article could have been about the Sedins holding up the team as it wins and makes their comeback.It could have been about how the Canucks won year after year with the Sedins saddled with plugs.It could have been about their Hall-of-Fame milestones while carrying a team without a second line winger-or fourth line-for most of the last 15 years.

    Instead we get negative reporting that suggests management and the coach sucks.

      • Bud Poile

        The Sedins are given the task of shutting down the opposition,which is what they are doing with Megna.

        It’s clear you and the author don’t understand what role the Sedins are successfully performing at the present time.

        They have sacrificed their offensive production roles so the second and third lines can score.

        It’s called team work.

          • Bud Poile

            The Sedins could have negotiated 8-9 million USD’s per year contracts at their peak but gave the Canucks franchise(and team mates) the vital cap space in the attempt to strengthen the roster and win.

            Now they sacrifice point production to win.

            Never hear a peep from them.They perform untold acts of kindness and endless charity work and never a dissenting word is heard-except from disgruntled,ungrateful fans and bloggers.

          • TrueBlue

            A bit of a stretch guy… two stretches at least:

            1) they’re first line players because they took a pay cut

            2) they’re sacrificing points for defense

            They’re not pulling an Yzerman or a Kopitar, buying into a responsible 200-ft game in order to control possession and dictate play while sacrificing scoring in the process. They’re old and using all the skill and ability they can muster to make a non-negative impact on the team. And that’s the point of the article. They can no longer drive play on their own, they can only tread water unless they have a great fit. So yes, try to find a fit that will elevate them, don’t tie them to another rock and expect them to drag it around at this age.

            it’s not a horrible thing to admit that it’s not as easy to find them a winger as in the past because you can’t just chuck whoever on their wing and hope that they can make it work, and finding a great fit as always been an inexact science.

  • Cageyvet

    I’m not known for falling all over myself to praise JD’s work, but I do like to give credit where credit is due. There’s nothing wrong with this article,

    I am as big a fan of the eye test as the stat line, and I’ve got to say, the Sedins are declining rapidly in their defensive abilities. I agree with the comment that their best defense was always the offense, it’s hard to score against them when they are owning the puck in the offensive zone.

    These days it’s hard to watch them get trapped in their own end. They’re still amazing at coming up with the puck on the boards in the offensive end, but they sure do a lot of hooking when the roles are reversed. I was choked at Willie for having them out in the last 2 minutes against Edmonton, that’s what your defensive lines are for. The result was a shift where we ran around in our end until Daniel took a penalty and Edmonton tied the game. Enough said.

    Offensively, they’re not able to carry a line anymore, I completely agree. Bring back Trent Klatt (use the time machine, not today’s version) and you’re not going to see the results that he got with the twins in their prime. I think that’s fair. I think it’s also worth noting that it’s somewhat nuts that an AHL player who can’t make the team without somebody being injured is allowed to keep playing with them despite a total lack of production.

    Megna is probably the worst forward they have ever had to play with, and I’m not trying to be cruel. He’s had 77 career NHL games, peaking with a big 36 games with Pittsburgh a few years ago. I’m not as down on Sutter with the twins as JD or others, at least they get some goals and he’s an actual NHL player, but he’s not my first choice to play with them either. Regardless, he’s head and shoulders over Megna.

    I don’t mind the experiment, coaches are welcome to play a hunch, a la Burrows, but I do mind that it’s not over already. I’d have Eriksson there for sure, Rodin is certainly an option, and I’m feeling good enough about Bo & Baertschi together to pull Burrows off that line and reunite him with the twins. Throw Granlund in there as well if you prefer.

    Who I don’t play with them? Megna, Chaput, Skille, Gaunce, this Boucher kid, or anybody else who clearly doesn’t have the game figured out well enough to stick as an NHL regular. Rodin gets a pass due to his overseas pedigree.

    JD was even-handed in this article on all these issues, it’s a deployment problem that I don’t think anybody should take issue with. I have issues with Megna being on our team, never mind playing on the top line…..damn rights claim Boucher and keep looking for more scoring depth, even with the twins Megna looks just a little out of his league.

    • Bud Poile

      “Offensively, they’re not able to carry a line anymore….”

      Henrik is second -by one point-in scoring playing alongside lesser lights at 36 years of age.
      Daniel is in third place.

      Hank is 50% in the circle and Dan leads the team in SOG-by a wide margin.

      Dan and Hank have led the team in scoring last year and every year prior to this year for as long as most can remember.

      They are the first line NHL players carrying whatever winger has been given them.Burr complimented the twins and Hansen carries his own weight.Without the twins we all know their upside.

      When another winger comes good or healthy Eriksson or Hansen will be free to join the twins.

      After Samuelsson was injured Gillis never found a winger for Kesler despite the $6m in cap space the twins gave him,alone.

      A few Canucks took less to win in the Gillis era.

      Benning got the final years of overpayments-tail ends of those contracts and their NTC’s.

      Manning three lines with legitimate scoring lines is hardly some new problem that just arose since Benning came on board.

  • Hockey Warrior

    Great click bait JD, and as regular readers will KNOW, I have been saying for TWO SEASONS that the Sedins are DONE as first line players, and I have once again been PROVEN right beyond doubt.

    Guys, the SARDINES stale, tired and WEAK cycle on the perimeter IS THE REASON our PP is 27th in the league.

    Their combined MINUS 13 is a huge reason why (combined with BENNINGS awful DEFENSIVE PLUGS) we are 24th in goals against!

    And most importantly their nose-dive in scoring equates to half a point a game over 82… NOT GOOD ENOUGH and NOT first line numbers.

    Young gun, unproven wingers like Conor Sheary in Pitts, Spencer Abbott in Chicago and Jimmy Vesey in New York too name a few are doing just FINE playing with top veterans… so no excuses for the Sedins there!

    Frankly, the BLIND loyalty towards these two fine servants is ridiculous. Yeah, they’ve been great for us, BUT this is not a charity ffs. Fellas, this is now a YOUNG MANS game which is why so many vets are unable to find work in todays FAST, EXPLOSIVE NHL. We NEED an entire new FIRST LINE asap.

    Hotshots like NOLAN PATRICK apply within!

  • Whackanuck

    When the Canucks signed the Sedins to their current contract, term was a bigger issue than dollars. Any curve of grouped NHLers’ points production versus time shows a decline after the early 30s age. That the Sedins have been reasonably successful in stretching their good production is a credit to their skill and conditioning. However, nobody can defy aging so there’s no criticism to be made.

  • Fred-65

    What I think many tend to forget is Megna and Chaput were supposed to be in Utica, how ever they have some how clawed their way into Willy’s mind/heart These players as much as I like their try and work ethic ( a high skill in WD list) are AHL players. A reluctance for Willy to try and upgrade their position with skill is a draw back for the Sedins and Vcr. If WD is any thing he’s predictable and stubborn. I can’t for the life of me see the advantage of a grinder like Megna over a skill player like Rodin and you know what we’ll never ever know …. as long as WD is coach. It’s not as though Vcr is a in the running for the Presidents Trophy. They’re struggling to make the play-offs a fact WD has apparently missed. WD is as much to blame for the Sedins struggles as is the Sedins age. I realize that it’s not Willys fault that Hansen is injured but the response to the injury is all Willy