During a recent NHL.com poll, Vancouver Canuck's Daniel Sedin was listed as the second best Left Winger in the NHL. Whether you agree with this ranking or not (at the quarter point in the 2010/11 season), there is evidence that he could possibly be in the hunt for hardware come late June.
Daniel Sedin focused early in the season at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California Oct. 13, 2010
With the disclaimer (yet again, after forecasting Henrik Sedin early on to win the Hart Trophy) that I do not wish to 'jinx' Daniel Sedin, this is simply a review of accomplishments to date, with a dash of prognosticating sprinkled in. Pundits will usually concede that the quarter point in the NHL schedule is a strong indication of where the higher seeds will finish, as well as a decent gauge for player point totals. With 13 goals and 27 points over the first 22 games, he's on pace for a career season. Last season, though he missed 19 games, he still amassed more points than in any other (2006-07 84 pts, 2008-09 82 pts) season. He's currently ranked 5th in the League for goals, and 9th for points. On pace for 48 goals, 52 assists – 100 points. That is, of course, barring injury/illness, or any dozen other factors.
Fans often marvel at how uncannily close the twins' point totals are, year after year. Were Daniel to have played the complete season as Henrik did, he was on pace for 111 points, and potentially also trophy nomination. Earlier, the poll mentioned regarding Left Wingers was lead by Alexander Ovechkin. Not much of a surprise there, but his pace has cooled from last season. Undoubtedly he'll catch fire at some point in the season, but he's on pace for 104 pts, only 32 of which are goals. One says 'only' when the individual mentioned scores 50+ annually.
Anze Kopitar and Daniel Sedin race for a loose puck in the Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals (all photos courtesy of Yardbarker.com)
Hockey pool guru Murray Townsend (The Hockey News) has been a professional prognosticator for 20 years. He had forecast Crosby and Ovechkin to tie for second in League scoring with 110 points. They finished with 109. Interestingly, two players that he's had difficulty projecting are the Sedin brothers. He thought that they had peaked in 2008-09 at 82 points a piece. Little could he imagine Henrik would go on a magical run to win the Art Ross and Hart Trophies. Basically, Daniel accomplished in 63 games what Townsend and others thought would take 82. But he's not sure that Henrik's performance will be duplicated. "Almost positive they've peaked," Townsend told The Hockey News.
One facet of the twins evolution that many overlooked initially was their preparation. In particular, their physical conditioning has been top notch, and aided them immensely. Each year, when they've finished the playoffs, they take two weeks off, then head back to Ornkoldsvik, Sweden, to commence off-season training. Since his rookie 2000-01 season, where Daniel scored 20 goals and 34 points, it's evident his ability to compete has heightened since becoming bigger and stronger. His ability to shield and protect the puck while cycling down low has increased. His shots, wrist, slap, snap and backhand, have become more potent, more forceful. His acceleration, though it will never be elite level, has reached a higher gear. In short, he is no longer a bright-eyed teenager playing a man's game.
Whatever the rest of the season should hold, Vancouver Canuck fans will continue to be delighted and amazed as Daniel Sedin, part of the best one-two punch in the League, displays his quality.
With files from CanucksHD, Yardbarker.com and The Hockey News, I'm Larenzo Jensen