Saturday, April 10, 2010
Henrik Sedin lays down challenge for Ovechkin
If Alexander Ovechkin wants to win the Art Ross Trophy this year, he's going to have to earn it.
Despite scoring 7 points in his past 3 games, Ovechkin found himself only one point ahead of Henrik Sedin entering the NHL's final weekend to its regular season. In a mean-nothing game against the golf course bound Calgary Flames, the Vancouver Canucks rested their wounded and focused on trying to help Henrik win the Art Ross trophy.
Henrik trailed Ovechkin 109-108 entering Saturday night's contest with the Flames, and would lose a tie-breaker versus Alex the Great based on fewer goals scored (as Gretzky did to Marcel Dionne in his rookie year).
Henrik Sedin did not waste much time, setting up Kevin Bieksa for a beauty to open his night and giving the Canucks a 2-0 lead. Henrik passed the puck into the corner to Daniel off the rush, who found a wide open Bieksa streaking through the slot, who fired a wrister by Kiprusoff.
Give Henrik 109. Fast forward a few minutes, later in the first period and the Sedins are on the ice once again. Henrik Sedin departs his zone and fires a 100 foot pass, across the ice to twin brother Daniel. Daniel skates in on Jay Bouwmeester, slides right around him with a deft move and roofs the puck under the bar, behind a stunned Miikka Kiprusoff. The Canucks lead 3-0, Henrik has his second assist of the night on another beautiful goal, and point 110 on the season.
Henrik's 110th point ties Pavel Bure's Vancouver Canucks' single season record, and gives him his 81st assist on the season. Now the real fun begins for the twins. Fast forward to the second period with the score now 3-2 Vancouver. Henrik and Daniel Sedin find themselves on a two-on-one. Henrik holds the puck and fires a pass over to Daniel, who cradles a rolling puck and fires it into the net, executed to perfection. 5-2 Vancouver, point #111 for Henrik on the season.
Three points in the bank, a two point lead on Alexander Ovechkin. But hang on, less than 30 seconds later, and you can witness one of the goals of the year. Henrik Sedin wins a faceoff to Christian Ehrhoff at the blue line. Ehrhoff passes to the faceoff circle to Henrik who one-touch re-directs the pass between his legs, right onto the stick of twin brother Daniel. Daniel has a clear path to the net out of the corner, he shows the puck as if he would move to the backhand to deke Kiprusoff, so Kiprusoff moves for the pokecheck. Just as he reaches to poke the puck away, Daniel protects the puck by moving it between his legs, and fires a shot into the gaping Calgary net. 6-2 Vancouver, point number 112 for Henrik, and another highlight reel goal for the Sedin twins.
Henrik finishes the game with 4 assists, Daniel records the hat-trick and the Canucks roll 7-3. Henrik now has 112 points, three ahead of Alexander Ovechkin at 109. Ovechkin has one game left, Sunday against Boston, to record at least three points to see if he can leap-frog Sedin once again.
Tonight's game against the Flames is a far cry from 2003 when the Canucks faced an injury-ravaged Los Angeles Kings squad with a chance to close out the year as Division Champions, and to solidify Markus Naslund as the Rocket Richard winner with the most goals scored, and the Art Ross trophy for the most points scored. Of course, the Canucks were shutout by an AHL roster wearing Kings jerseys that night, allowing the Avalanche to win their game and the division, with Milan Hejduk and Peter Forsberg recording enough goals and points respectively to pass Naslund on both fronts.
That led of course to the infamous speech by Markus Naslund where he said "we choked" and things will be better in the playoffs. Well, they weren't of course as the Canucks blew a 3-1 series lead to the Minnesota Wild and lost in the second round.
After game, Alex Burrows offered the following on Henrik. “Some of those passes, through the leg or a cross-ice saucer seven feet in the air and it lands perfectly, that’s the kind of player he is,” Burrows said. “The way he was playing with confidence and wanted the puck and wanted to make plays out there, it was a special night.
Chants of “MVP, MVP" followed Sedin’s fourth assist—a league-best 83rd. Henrik now has to wait and see how Alexander Ovechkin performs tomorrow against the Boston Bruins, a stingy team - one of the best defensively in the league.
Ovechkin sits at 109 and needs 3 points to tie Henrik Sedin, a tiebreaker that Ovechkin would win based on more of his points coming from goals than assists. The game can be seen by most on NBC at 9am PST / 12 noon EST.