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The finisher

by Thomas Drance / Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver Canucks top scorer Daniel Sedin, 35, enters this weekend in the top-five among all NHL players in point production.

In the annals of sporting history, time stands undefeated. For the past two months though, Daniel and his brother Henrik Sedin have once again stared down the barrel of age-related decline and defiantly declared - as a Braavosi swordsmen might to death- “not today!”

What the twins have accomplished through the first two months of the season is special. There aren’t any other players their age performing quite as well this season. From Carol Schram of CanucksArmy.com:

How special is the Sedins' play this season? They're nestled in among a bunch of twentysomethings in the league's list of top scorers. With 30 points at age 33, Mike Cammalleri of the New Jersey Devils is the only other player over 31 who currently sits among the NHL's top 30 scorers. We have to scroll all the way down to the 22-point mark to find the Sedins' next-best contemporaries—Patrick Marleau (36), Joel Ward (35) and Henrik Zetterberg (35).

It’s not just the production of Vancouver’s twins, relative to their advanced age, that’s been so impressive either. The Twins are still entrenched as Vancouver’s top line forwards. If they dress in 75 percent of their club’s games this season and continue to log over 14 minutes per game they’ll join a very short and very elite list of players – Martin St. Louis, Shane Doan, Jaromir Jagr, Pavel Datsyuk, Jarome Iginla - who’ve remained effective high usage players into their mid-30s.

In Daniel’s case this isn’t an example of a player who has simply remained effective into his mid-30s, which would cause enough to marvel. At the level that he’s currently performing, it seems as if he’s legitimately turned back the clock. The mythical fountain of youth has never been proven to exist, but archaeologists may want to embark on a thorough search of Ornskoldsvik before writing it off as legend.

In contrast with the three seasons that Daniel played following the 2012-13 NHL lockout, Vancouver’s top-line winger has seen his goal scoring rate and his shot rate spike significantly in the early going this season. He’s on pace to set a career high in shots for and currently ranks in the top-10 among all regular NHL forwards in shot rate, according to hockeyanalysis.com.

The most notable example of Daniel turning back the clock though, can be seen in his shooting percentage. From 2012-13 through to 2014-15, Daniel was one of 27 players in hockey who managed to direct more than 580 shots on goal. From that group of volume shooters none converted on a lower percentage of their looks.

Though Daniel’s two-way game and passing ability permitted him to remain enormously effective during that stretch, it isn’t too difficult to make the argument that he’s squandered more scoring opportunities over the past few years than any other NHL player.

This season, for the first time since before he sustained a serious concussion on a hit by Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, Daniel’s shooting percentage has rebounded. The Canucks sniper is converting on 12.3 percent of his shots and the quality of his finishing game has been vintage:

How good is that?

With Daniel’s finishing game rounding back into form the Canucks forward is on pace to post his first 30-goal campaign since the last time the Canucks won the Presidents’ Trophy.

Considering their age and the sheer degree of difficulty, what Daniel and Henrik are doing this season though may qualify as their most impressive trick yet. Considering all they’ve accomplished in their storied careers – an Art Ross trophy each, a Stanley Cup Finals berth, multiple Presidents’ Trophies – that’s saying something.

The Sedin twins have long since staked a compelling claim to the mantle of ‘best players in Canucks franchise history’. Stay tuned though. Based on what we’ve seen through the first two months of the season, it’s clear that the final chapter of their story is far from written.

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