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Sedins, turning 35, confident they have plenty left

by Tim Wharnsby

TORONTO -- Twin forwards Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks are not ready to make their harness racing hobby into a full-time endeavor just yet.

The Sedins, who own several standardbred racehorses in Sweden and North America, will celebrate their 35th birthdays Saturday and have heard the chatter their time in the NHL is running out.

But all you have to do is look at the top 10 players in the scoring race from the 2014-15 season to discover they remain among the elite.

Daniel finished tied for eighth with 76 points (20 goals), slightly better than Henrik, who tied for 10th with 73 points (18 goals).

"I don't really listen to [naysayers]," Daniel said. "We showed last year that we can still play at a high level. For us, it's about staying in shape and staying healthy. If we can do that there is no reason why we can't play in this league a few more seasons."

The Sedins each played in all 82 regular-season games and six games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was their first time playing every game for the Canucks since 2010-11, which ended with a Game 7 loss to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final.

"There were a lot of comments about us being finished before last season," said Henrik, the Canucks captain. "We showed we could still play by being in the top 10 in scoring. If we stay injury free and prepare the way you want to we will keep playing."

Health certainly played a big role in the Sedins' resurgence. But how much of it was playing for coach Willie Desjardins after one season under John Tortorella?

"I look at it that if you play over here for 15 years you're going to have your ups and downs," Daniel said. "We probably had a bigger down year than we expected under Tortorella, but I respect him as a coach and as a human being. I never would blame my season on him.

"For us, it was a matter of getting back to the way we can play."

Henrik concurred that Tortorella was not the issue.

"As a team, we had a great start right up until New Year's Eve and then we had a lot of injuries, myself included. That wasn't [Tortorella's] problem," he said.

"Last year we came back after we had a good summer. We were deeper as a team and we were able to overcome some injuries."

It was interesting, however, to see Desjardins stick with his game plan to play four lines and make sure the Sedins weren't overplayed. The twins' ice time was reduced by more than two minutes a game last season.

In 2013-14, Henrik played 20:40 a game, Daniel 20:36. Last season, Daniel was at 18:21 to Henrik's 18:36.

This kept the Sedins fresh, and they will have to continue to share ice time with the Canucks' young group of forwards that includes Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk, Brendan Gaunce, Sven Baertschi, Nicklas Jensen and Jake Virtanen. With the exception of Horvat, this group helped the Canucks' American Hockey League affiliate, the Utica Comets, advance to the Calder Cup Final last spring.

"For us, it's exciting to see so many young faces," Daniel said. "We haven't seen that a lot during our time in Vancouver."

Henrik said he hopes to see many of these young faces in the lineup this season. He marvels at how mentally and physically ready young players are to step in and contribute these days.

"Ten or 15 years ago, it was difficult for a young player to come in and make an impact," Henrik said. "It's not like that anymore. You see a lot of young guys come in now and make a difference right away.

"I think it probably started with [Sidney] Crosby and [Alex] Ovechkin being ready when they came into the League."

The Canucks are five seasons removed from the Cup Final. Last season, they were upset in the Western Conference First Round by the Calgary Flames. In 2013-14, Vancouver missed the postseason.

"I'm very excited," Henrik said. "I don't think there are a lot of people who believe in us, but we have a lot of young players who had a good season in the minors and went a long way."

Daniel said, "I think we're closer than people give us credit for. I think Henrik and I and some others can stay at a high level, and some of the young guys come in and play well, we're going to be a tough team."

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