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Sedins deal with the pressure to produce

by Dan Rosen
VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Henrik and Daniel Sedin agree a lot -- it must be a twin thing. So it's no surprise that arguably the most notable and criticized identical twins in British Columbia both say the pressure on them heading into the Western Conference Finals is the same as ever even if the rest of us may feel differently.

The Sedins, after all, have never played beyond the second round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the Canucks essentially made it here despite their well-publicized inconsistencies against the Predators in the Western Conference Semifinals.

"It's not going to change. It's always going to be the same," Henrik said Saturday from Rogers Arena when he was asked about the pressure. "Either you like it and you enjoy playing under pressure or you're moving out of here. That's the way it is. We really enjoy playing where people care and there is a lot of attention on the team. It's not a problem for us."

Daniel, what say you?

"You either embrace it or you choose not to play in a Canadian city or the NHL," said the younger of the identical twins. "You've got to like playing under pressure. When things go bad and things go good you've got to stay the same."

Things went bad against the Predators as the twins combined for only 7 points and a minus-10 rating in the six-game series. But, they don't plan on changing anything heading into Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against San Jose on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC, RDS).

Henrik and Daniel are still facing serious criticism from local and national media as well as Canucks' fans across the globe for their play in these playoffs, specifically against Nashville -- but they are still playing, so that has to mean something.

"I thought it was some unfair criticism," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said, referring to how the media and public reacted to the Sedins’ performance against the Predators, which was a continuation of their lack of production in the final four games against Chicago.

Daniel and Henrik were first and fourth, respectively, in the NHL's regular-season scoring race. Henrik is the reigning Hart Trophy winner; Daniel is one of three finalists to take home the MVP trophy next month. However, they have just 19 points and are a minus-16 (minus-8 each) in 13 playoff games.

The twins averaged 2.41 points per game in the regular season. They're averaging 1.46 points per game in the playoffs.

"They obviously are here to produce, but that being said they played some solid games (against Nashville) where they spent a lot of time in the other team's end, spent a lot of time generating some quality chances," Vigneault said. "You know, you've got to give credit where credit is due -- (the Predators') goaltender made some real solid saves. It's not going to get easier obviously with the opposition we're facing, but if they continue to put in the right type of work and the right type of play that they're going to do what they need to do to help us win."

Not that Henrik would say anything, but there’s also speculation that he’s is dealing with some sort of injury – he skated Saturday for the first time since the Canucks eliminated Nashville on Monday.

The potential matchups they could face against the Sharks might be the sweet elixir for Henrik and Daniel. San Jose doesn't have any defense pair like Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith, or Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. The Sharks’ best defenseman is Dan Boyle, a guy who wants to go on the offensive as much as he can.

Moreover, the Sharks prefer an up-tempo, fast-paced game where the Predators were more plodding and deliberate with their defensive systems. It's possible that the Sedins may find more room to work with in this series than they've seen in the playoffs so far.

"We'll see," Henrik offered after saying he wasn't sure who Vigneault was going to try to match them against, though many believe it will be Joe Thornton's line. "Like I said, I don't know if they really have that shutdown pair. I think they're more of a team that can roll their lines and roll their Ds. We're the same kind of team. We'll see what happens."

Alex Burrows, the third wheel with the Sedins, knows he has a role to play as well to get the twins going early against the Sharks.

"Mostly it's win puck battles along the boards and win the net-front battles, too. Get those rebounds and those loose pucks," Burrows, who had 3 points and was a minus-3 against the Predators, told "They're such great players that as long as I give them the puck they're going to make plays, so for me it's about finding some ice, going to the net and creating some traffic in front for them."

Let's say, for argument's sake, that the Sedins do show up in a big way in Game 1 Sunday. The key then will be for them to replicate that type of performance in Games 2, 3, 4 and beyond.

Canucks GM Mike Gillis said that might be the most difficult challenge for high-end forwards in the playoffs.

"When you face the same team repeatedly it somehow can become easier to check the top players. You can figure out the tendencies a little bit more unlike the regular season where you go play in Nashville then you play in Dallas and then you play in Columbus," Gillis said. "When you face top pairings in the National Hockey League over a period of time it's easier to defend than score.

"We see the effort there. We see how determined they are to succeed. None of that has changed. I fully anticipate that as they continue through this and get different matchups they will be as successful as they expect themselves to be and as we hope they will be."

Even if they are, the pressure will always be there. That much Henrik and Daniel are used to by now.

We're waiting to find out how well they can handle it this deep in the playoffs.

"I think every game is a fresh start in the playoffs," Henrik said. "It's a thing where you have games where you're minus-7 combined and that's going to happen. You have to move on. You look at the next game as a chance to make a difference and that's the way we look at it. There's always a chance for us to go out there in the next game and make a difference."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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