Trending Topics is a new column that looks at the week in hockey according to Twitter. If you're only going to comment to say how stupid Twitter is, why not just go have a good cry for the slow, sad death of your dear internet instead?
Around this time in the second round, Vancouver Canucks games were becoming a Poochie-less episode of "Itchy and Scratchy". Everyone was asking, "Where are are the Sedins?"
Media types were positively reveling in every game they finished with a minus rating (and in the first two series, there were a hell of a lot of them). Through the first 13 games, Daniel and Henrik had a paltry six goals and 12 assists between them — well off their astronomical regular-season paces of the last two years — and a combined plus-minus of minus-14.
They had quickly become the Blunder Twins, but at the same time there was a large amount of speculation that at least Henrik was hurt. Even if he wasn't, it seems the six days off between when the Canucks bounced Nashville from the playoffs and when the Sharks series started seem to have helped immensely.
In the first two games of that series, which picks up again tonight in San Jose, the Sedins have piled up three goals and six assists — exactly half of what they put up in the first 13 games of the postseason combined — and looked every bit the dazzling, clinical kings of the cycle that we've come to expect. And now, people are talking once again.
The Sharks have had no answer for them. None whatsoever. Of course, it hasn't helped that Alain Vigneault's been using last change to match them against the Kent Huskins-Marc-Edouard Vlasic pairing while Todd McLellan matches his top D group against the Ryan Kesler line (and to great effect; Kesler has just one point in the series). The only team they've played so far that seemed able to corral them was Nashville which, with a Ryan Suter/Shea Weber/Pekka Rinne troika at the back, could shut down any line in the league no matter how previously productive. And it didn't help that Kesler had problems of his own throughout that series.
The problem for San Jose now, and the team that eventually faces to the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals, is that there's no longer a way to deal with them properly. Running them from behind, as Ben Eager found, seems to only make them stronger. Putting a shutdown group out against them frees up the improbably effective line of Kesler and Higgins and Raymond.
And because of these obvious matchup problems, the Canucks are back to their comfort zone, with Kesler and Co. playing the supposed "complementary role" against tougher opponents and letting the once and future league MVPs bat around the lesser competition before evisterating them like sadistic alley cats.
For a prime example of this, one needs look no further than the shift that resulted in Aaron Rome's first goal of the playoffs. The Sedins engineered a game of endboards keepaway that had Sharks defenders scrambling like confused, frustrated toddlers. Nearly two dozen times the Canucks passed the puck back and forth without a Shark touching it, almost all of it between the Sedins until Daniel put toward the net for Alex Burrows, whose rebound Rome buried. It was a perfect cycle, the kind you would draw up if you had the audacity to believe a line and defense could pass it untouched between them 22 times in a row.
But that's the kind of dimension the Sedins bring to a game: simplicity through uncanny skill. And they make even unassuming plays exciting. It's not often that a series of five-foot passes behind the net brings an entire crowd to its feet. It's the cycle you want to coach at every level; basic understanding between linemates, nothing risky, just whip it around the perimeter until the defense dizzily falls down, then score on the first — or second or third — chance you have at the net.
People can talk about the revelatory play of Kesler and Kevin Bieksa, and they're right to do it. Those guys have been a huge part of the reason the Canucks got by Chicago and Nasvhille, and are currently up 2-0 in this series.
But now that the Sedins have rounded back into form, there might be none left who can stop the Canucks.
When it was revealed this week that any team moved to Winnipeg would have a name other than "The Jets," people were furious. When it was revealed that any team moved to Winnipeg would have a name that was "The Moose," people were apoplectic.
With this in mind, many hockey fans suggested alternate team names in hopes that the good folks at True North would change their minds.
@hainsernation: Manitoba Mennonightmares
@dustin722: Winnipeg No Free Agents
@donmelanson: Winnipeg Winter. Scariest name in the NHL
@OldHossRadbourn: Winnipeg Socialist Health Care System
@CoverThePuck: Winnipeg BlackBerries
@sadiehawkins21: Winnipeg Rebounds
@sboulton: Winnipeg Rough Riders
@brandocash: Baltimore Skipjacks
And your winner:
@SuicidePass: Riel Madrid
Pearls of Biz-dom
We all know that there isn't a better Twitter account out there than that of Paul Bissonnette. So why not find his best bit of advice on love, life and lappers from the last week?
BizNasty on a healthy diet: "LAX at 6 30am. In line to get a bagel and some lady cuts in and asks if they sell hot dogs. How early is 2 early for a hot dog?"
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- Vancouver Canucks
- Ryan Kesler