Double trouble for Sedins
Twins have been held in check by the Bruins
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Daniel and Henrik Sedin’s image as the faces of the Vancouver Canucks has taken a beating over the years, but not more so than in this Stanley Cup Final.
Since arriving in Vancouver as the second and third overall picks in the 1999 draft, the twins have endured a steady wave of criticism.
The popular theory, from Vancouver to Boston, is the Sedins can’t handle the pressure in the playoffs.
And this series has only provided further ammunition. As the Cup Final shifts here for Game 5 tonight, Daniel has one goal and one assist, and Henrik has been held without a point.
The two, who combined for 198 regular-season points and are back-to-back Art Ross Trophy winners as the NHL’s leading scorers, weren’t made available to the media yesterday.
But their coach was willing to give them some love, at a time when few others will.
“They’re elite players,’’ said Alain Vigneault, “and if we’ve gotten to where we are today it’s because our top players have been, on most nights, the best players on the ice.
“Obviously, we need those guys to play up to their standards, and they will. We’re playing against a real strong opponent right now and we’ve got a lot of respect for how the Bruins play.’’
At every turn, it seems, the Sedins have been met by defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara. And if they somehow escape the Bruins’ shutdown pair, they have to deal with feisty Brad Marchand.
In fact, Marchand is drawing comparisons with Dave Bolland, the Blackhawks forward who pestered the Sedins the last three years in the playoffs.
“I don’t think I’m half the player he is,’’ said Marchand. “He’s a great player. He played unbelievable when he came in and obviously he’s made a great name for himself. He has a Cup and I don’t think I’m anything like him.’’
Marchand is doing everything he can to disrupt the Sedins, both between whistles and after them.
Marchand’s post-whistle trip of Daniel late in Game 4 set off a penalty-filled episode. Keith Ballard stepped in to fight the smaller Marchand. The two wrestled to the ice, and that was it. Or was it?
Marchand, who scored one of Boston’s four goals, made a gesture with his hands, as if dusting them off, as he skated by the Canucks bench, in essence saying he had taken care of the matter.
Yesterday, he wasn’t making any apologies.
“I think there’s maybe a little more spotlight on the Stanley Cup playoffs,’’ Marchand said. “I’m not trying to do anything differently, I just want to play my game and try to help the team any way I can.
“Every person has their own perception of what kind of player I am, but if you watch closely . . . I try and play a certain way to get my mind into the game. I’m not trying to play a certain way for any fan, I’m just trying to do what gets me into the game.
“If people think I’m being a pest, people think I’m being a pest.’’
Marchand maintains he has done nothing to get under the skin of the Canucks, a team that has prided itself on turning the other cheek.
“It’s just there’s always scrums after the whistle, and I get involved in them,’’ said Marchand.
In any event, right now the Canucks are struggling, the Bruins are not.
A large part of that has to do with how the Sedins have been rendered ineffective.
“We take a lot of pride on our defensive game,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “Throughout the whole year, you play a lot of teams that have those kinds of players, and in our conference, whether it’s the Crosbys and the Malkins . . . you have to be able to play against those guys in a way that you certainly have to have the whole group doing the job. I don’t think you’re really relying on one guy.’’