The last time we saw truly meaningful overtime at GM Place it wasn’t even GM Place and it was Jarome Iginla to Sidney Crosby for the Olympic gold medal for Canada. Henrik Sedin to Mikael Samuelsson in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs might not have quite the same ring to it, but it was a certainly a night of triumph for Sweden and the Vancouver Canucks.
And that will have to continue for the Canucks to realize their goal of a long playoff run.
This corner has taken its fair share of abuse from the readers in the Vancouver area of late for stating he wouldn’t be voting for Henrik Sedin for the Hart Trophy as MVP. (For the record, Sedin was a finalist on this writer’s ballot.) I have been accused of hate crimes, being a racist and writing “libelous garbage” because of it, which is, of course, preposterous.
But anyone who could not appreciate the brilliance of the Sedin brothers in general and Henrik in particular would probably guilty of all those things. Henrik Sedin contributed two brilliant assists to the effort, including a seeing-eye pass to countryman Mikael Samuelsson on the overtime winner. Daniel scored a terrific goal on a backhand that started on a turnover off the rush, the way many of the Sedin-Sedin goals have been scored of late.
On a night when four of the five goals were scored by Swedes and only one point was recorded by a Canadian, it was a good night to be a European and a better one to be a Canuck. Christian Ehrhoff was a rock on the Canuck blueline, played more than 30 minutes and was second to Samuelsson’s seven shots with five of his own. Alex Edler was almost as brilliant and then there were the Sedins. It’s clear the twins have started this year’s playoffs on something of a mission and that mission is to create as much offense as possible and make their opponents pay dearly for turning the puck over at any place on the ice.
It all made for an entertaining game, one that made the NHL playoffs this season 7-for-7 in one-goal games. The level of play was everything it was expected to be and if it keeps up, this series has the potential to be one of the most enthralling of the post-season.
The one blight on the game was the major and game misconduct assessed to Canuck defenseman Andrew Alberts, who left his feet to hit Brad Richardson from behind. That hit is precisely the one that gives the NHL fits because it looked as though Richardson turned his back just prior to being hit. But Alberts has to be accountable and has to let up when he sees things develop in that way.
As for the Kings, they certainly acquitted themselves well in a game where they could have wilted. None of Jonathan Quick, Jack Johnson, Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, Wayne Simmonds, Dustin Brown, Alexander Frolov and Raitis Ivanans had ever appeared in a playoff game before, but many of them seemed to thrive under the pressure. Quick, who faltered down the stretch in the regular season, was brilliant for much of the game and Doughty teamed up with Rob Scuderi to shut the Sedins down as much as was humanly possible when not having the last change.
Of course, this Kings teams is hardly a neophyte when it comes to playoff experience. Sean O’Donnell, Scuderi, Justin Williams and Fredrik Modin all have Stanley Cup rings and Jarret Stoll, Ryan Smyth and Matt Greene all went to the Stanley Cup final with the Edmonton Oilers four years ago.
It might not be enough, however, to stop the Sedins if they continue to play this way through this series. If this keeps up, one of them might even win the Conn Smythe Trophy.
THN.com’s Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.
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Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear Wednesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell’s Cuts, appears Mondays.
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