If you want to find out the answers, you've got to go right to the source. Or, in the case of figuring out what is going on with the team that has top-billing in the National Hockey League standings, you go directly to two sources.
Henrik and Daniel Sedin
The identical twins are having identically stellar seasons, but they're just two of several key cogs that make the Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver enters Thursday's game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden with an NHL-best 62 points thanks to a remarkable 18-1-3 record since Nov. 24. Henrik and Daniel are tied for third in the League in scoring with 55 points apiece, and Ryan Kesler
is having a breakout offensive season with 24 goals, already just two shy of his career-high.
"We have two good goalies that are both playing extremely well," Daniel told NHL.com, referring to Roberto Luongo
and Cory Schneider
, the latter of whom is expected to start at the Garden. "I think we've become a better defensive team, too. We don't give up as many chances, and we still have that offensive mindset when we get the puck. We have a lot of good offensive players, both on the back end and up front. I think that's what makes us good. We can play well in all areas of the game."
All true. No quibbling from the peanut gallery.
But there is so much more to this team than just names and numbers. For instance, Daniel told us three things we didn't know about coach Alain Vigneault
, who will join the twins and Kesler in Raleigh, N.C., later this month and coach alongside Philadelphia's Peter Laviolette
in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover.
"He doesn't like morning skates. That's one thing," Daniel said. "He doesn't scream a lot. He's pretty quiet. And he watches a lot of video. Our coaches are very well-prepared."
Prepared and lucky that they have players like the Sedin twins, Kesler and Luongo answering the bell nightly. We're talking world-class players here.
Again, though, the Canucks are more about names and numbers.
Henrik offered us three players he believes Vancouver can't win without.
, because the past couple of years teams have gone from having the heavyweight guys that fight to realizing that you need guys that can play hockey, and he's a guy that can fight, can score, can play (penalty kill) for us. He does it all for us," Henrik said. "I would also say Kevin Bieksa
. He had a really good couple of first years and he's had some tough years with injury, but he's been really solid for us this year with the way he plays defensive and he chips in offensively.
"The third guy would be Cory Schneider
, our backup goalie. He's played 12 games for us, is still unbeaten (8-0-2) and has great stats. He works extremely hard and I think he pushes Roberto to become even better."
The twins credit Mikael Samuelsson
and Alexandre Burrows
for providing some levity through the NHL grind.
Daniel said Samuelsson is the funniest guy in the Canucks' dressing room.
"He likes to chirp guys," he said. "He's not afraid to say things in both Swedish and English. And he can take it, too. A lot of guys go right back at him, but he loves that. He always has an answer. He flies under the radar."
Henrik labeled Burrows as the biggest prankster on the team, a title he's earned in the absence of former Canuck Darcy Hordichuk
"I don't think he's going to admit anything of what I say, so if this gets printed I might get in trouble here," he said, laughing. "He's just done a few things. He nailed Hordichuk's shoes to the floor of the changing area in Denver last year. That's the one thing that sticks out."
"I don't think he's going to admit anything of what I say, so if this gets printed I might get in trouble here. He's just done a few things. He nailed Hordichuk's shoes to the floor of the changing area in Denver last year. That's the one thing that sticks out."
-- Henrik Sedin on linemate Alex Burrows
When the Canucks win -- and that's often -- Daniel said Kesler and Luongo usually take turns as the dressing room D.J.
"It's usually pretty bad music," he said. "It's loud. It's rap, I would say. It's not for me."
When they lose -- which has happened only eight times in regulation, three in overtime and three more times in the shootout this season -- Henrik said they're good at discussing the reasons why it happened and quickly moving on.
No one stews.
"I don't think we have anyone that you're like, 'Oh, wow, he takes it really hard,'" Henrik said. "It's one thing if you make a mistake in overtime that costs you to lose the game, but other than that I think we're pretty focused on moving on."
It's because they're confident, maybe more than ever.
The twins understand that the real test has yet to begin -- it starts in April. Vancouver has been busted out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Chicago Blackhawks
two years in a row.
They're hungry for success. Could this be the year they finally feast?
"I think we can do it all this year," Henrik said.
That's all you really need to know.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl