BOSTON — The problem with Mike Milbury's "Thelma and Louise" crack about Daniel and Henrik Sedin(notes) wasn't just that it reinforces his reputation as a Euro-trashing xenophobe who has now worked emasculation into his stand-up act — it's that the analogy fails on every level.
Thelma and Louis weren't related, let alone twins. And despite their anatomy, they're not the example of limp-wristed cowardice that Milbury was attempting to apply to the Sedins; could he have picked two more strong-willed, aggressively violent women, who chug Wild Turkey and love'em-then-leave'em? Margret Carlson of TIME referred to "Thelma and Louise" as "the first major female buddy movie, [but] it is more like a male buddy movie with two women plunked down in the starring roles."
But within the context of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Milbury's comparison really — and excuse the obvious pun — goes over a cliff.
Thelma and Louise are proactive characters who would rather die than be captured, contained or controlled by others.
Their stats remain strong: Henrik is second in the playoffs with 21 points (2 goals, 19 assists) and Daniel is right behind him with 18 points (9 goals, 9 assists). But what's their true impact been? Have they not been contained by the premiere defensive pairings in Chicago, Nashville and Boston?
Vancouver Coach Alain Vigneault believes the Sedins have been "better than their point totals indicate." Is he right?
From Sunday's press conferences in Boston, here's Vigneault on dealing with the Sedins' alleged slump:
"When you're dealing with those two players in particular, they're so demanding on themselves that they don't really need anyone to point certain things about their game out to them.
"That being said, I do think that they're playing much better than their point total indicates. I think they're moving the puck well. They're doing a lot of the right things, and a lot of the things that should enable them to get on the score sheet.
"You've got to give credit where credit is due. Their goaltender has made some great saves on them. And their defensemen have done a great job, they have been shutdown now for a few games. But I'm confident the tide should turn here soon."
Well, there's only two games left, sir …
Anyone that's watched the first five games of this series is still waiting for the Sedins to look like the Sedins: To cycle and dominate the offensive zone, and catch the Bruins frequently flat-footed with their speed. If it's happened, it's happened rarely; and certainly not with the frequency as it does in the regular season.
While we can't find definitive numbers on it, their time of possession in the offensive zone has to have diminished in comparison to the regular season. The best evidence of that is via Behind the Net, and the twins' offense zone finishes in 5-on-5 hockey:
OFF ZONE FINISH, Regular Season: 56.7%
OFF ZONE FINISH, Postseason: 54.6%
OFF ZONE FINISH, Regular Season: 57.8%
OFF ZONE FINISH, Regular Season: 55.2%
It's only a slight tick down, but it's an indication that puck is being cleared more on their shifts in the playoffs than in the regular season. Not a perfect indication, mind you, but a conclusion you can draw from it.
Even strength has not been kind to the Sedins. Again, from Behind the Net:
5-on-5 Points Per 60 Minutes, Regular Season: 3.12
5-on-5 Points Per 60 Minutes, Postseason: 1.32
5-on-5 Points Per 60 Minutes, Regular Season: 2.78
5-on-5 Points Per 60 Minutes, Postseason: 1.59
To wit, 10 of Henrik's 21 points in the playoffs have come on the power play; 9 of Daniel's 18 were on the power play as well. And now the power play is ice cold in the Final, and the Sedins aren't putting up points.
So what do the twins do? Go to film school, break down what's going wrong? Henrik Sedin was asked:
"No. We work it out with Alex and whoever is on the point. Like you said, we're still confident. You lose confidence when you're cheating or doing things wrong.
"But this is a tough team. They don't give up a whole lot of chances. If you're going to start cheating to get points, it's going to hurt us more, so…
"Like I said, we're battling hard. They are a good team. We know we aren't going to get the chances maybe we get usually. That's the way it is. We have to bear down and get chances and find a way to beat Tim Thomas(notes)."
They had a bit more breathing room in Game 5, with Vigneault desperately trying to get them away from Zdeno Chara(notes) and succeeding for much of the game. They won't have the luxury in Game 6 on Monday night; the Sedins were a combined minus-5 in the previous two games in Boston.
Although perhaps some of that "line matching" stuff is overrated:
Home Playoffs Points (CHI, NASH, BOS): 2 in 10 games.
Road Playoffs Points (CHI, NASH, BOS): 6 in 8 games.
Home Playoffs Points (CHI, NASH, BOS): 5 in 10 games.
Road Playoffs Points (CHI, NASH, BOS): 7 in 8 games.
That said, it'll be another challenging night from another challenging defense for the Sedins. But it'll also be an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup where their NHL careers began: They were drafted in Boston during the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, with then-GM Brian Burke declaring that "no one is leaving Boston with both Sedins except me."
"Over these ten years, we know what a tough league this is," said Daniel Sedin on Sunday. "We've been through up's and down's and we learn a lot."
There have been downs in this series for the Sedins. More than their coach wants to admit, and more than their stat totals for the playoffs can reveal.
But in Game 6, they might actually do something adds a scintilla of coincidental validity to Mike Milbury's cinematic comparison: Ending the journey on their terms, rather than Boston's.
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