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Smoldering Sedin

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

2009 is turning out to be the year of Henrik, but has he surpassed Daniel as the clutch Sedin?

Whether it’s a Swedish thing or a Sedin thing, neither twin is big into New Year’s Resolutions.

The idea – to commit to a project, adventure or lifestyle change that begins New Year's Day and lasts for the new year – doesn’t strike Henrik Sedin as the least bit intriguing; when asked if he made a resolution heading into 2009 he slyly replied that it was “to not start smoking.”

Astonishingly, Henrik failed at this.

No smoke breaks are needed during practice and he isn’t catching a puff between periods, it’s his game that’s been smoldering and it all started earlier this year.

Going into the 2008-09 season, Henrik was known as the set-up man, the assist maker who dished out more than an ice cream server. His career-high for goals was 18, a far cry from the 36 his brother Daniel put up in 2006-07.

That all changed on January 2, 2009 in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Atlanta Thrahers when Henrik recorded his first multi-goal game in 48 contests (dating back to the previous season) and only the fourth of his career.

After beating Thrashers’ netminder Kari Lehtonen twice, something clicked within Henrik and his inner sniper came to the forefront.

Henrik scored 15 of his career-high 22 goals in the final 42 games last year (not including playoffs) and 33 games into this season he’s already picked up 14 scores to go along with 28 assists for 42 points and a spot among the league’s elite offensive talents.

Ten of Henrik’s goals came with Daniel out of the line-up over an 18-game stretch earlier this season, which, when wrapped up alongside his prowess on offence in the 2009 calendar year, makes it obvious Hank has shed his image as a pure passer.

“I don’t have an awful shot,” laughed Henrik, who recently topped 500 career points with a three-assist effort in a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild.

“I can shoot the puck, so if I’m in the right position I can score goals and I think since after Christmas last year I’ve been scoring a few more goals than I did before.”

Henrik’s as modest as he is talented.

He’s altered his game and made opposing players second guess whether to give him an open shot or not, so much so that he’s practically on par for scoring with Daniel, the twin known for slashing his way through defences like an Etch A Sketch.

Subtract the 10 goals Henrik scored with Daniel away this year and over their last 57 games dating back to January 2, 2009, Henrik has 22 goals to Daniel’s 21.

Fans, teammates and Hanrik agree, he’s presently playing the best hockey of his career.

“Yeah, I think so, production wise it is by far,” said Hank. “Overall I feel comfortable on the ice, I’m able to make plays and hold onto the puck at the right times and I’m playing with two great scorers and both Burr and Danny can shoot the puck so they’re making my job easier for sure.

“We enjoy playing with each other, we’re having a lot of fun and we’ve got a good feeling right now. I think that comes with time in this league. We’ve been here a long time and I think we’ve taken a few steps every year and with that comes responsibility too. We get paid to score and that’s what we need to do so I think it comes naturally.”

Said Daniel of the supreme play of the twins: “As a player you always wanted to be looked at as a good player, as a great player, and I think that’s something we’ve been aiming for since our first year. We’ve wanted to get better every year and we’ve been working hard in the summers to get better and hopefully we can keep it going.”

Adding to the allure of the Sedins is that both Henrik and Daniel have recorded hat tricks this season, an accomplishment that the Canucks hadn’t accomplished since November 21, 2007 and not at GM Place since March 27, 2006.

After Henrik scored three goals and singlehandedly beat the Colorado Avalanche in an 8-2 Canucks win earlier this year, Daniel let loose last Thursday with a three-goal outing in a 4-2 victory against the Atlanta Thrashers making the Sedins the first brothers to score hat tricks in the same season for the same team since Peter and Marian Stastny accomplished the feat with the Quebec Nordiques in 1982-83.

Since Daniel’s return 11-games ago, both Sedins are as red hot as ever with each currently riding a seven-game point streak.

Henrik has reverted back to his old ways with his 14 points in the last seven games all coming via assists, while Daniel has six goals alongside six assists and was recently named the NHL’s Second Star of the Week.

Regardless of who’s credited with goals and who has the assists, the play of the Sedins this season has been almost two good to be true.

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