VANCOUVER – Henrik and Daniel Sedin count NHL scoring titles and Olympic gold among their laurels but both know the Stanley Cup playoffs will define them as players.
Henrik won the Art Ross trophy last season with 112 points and was named league MVP when Daniel was limited to 63 games by injury.
This season it was Daniel’s turn, winning the scoring title with 41 goals and 104 points. He’s also been nominated for the Hart trophy as MVP.
But getting well beyond the second round of the post-season and hoisting the Cup means more to the Swedish red-headed twins after 10 seasons with the Vancouver Canucks.
“Both me and Danny now have done special things in the regular season and that means a lot, for sure,” Henrik, in his first year as Canuck captain, said Wednesday.
“It shows you’ve worked hard to get where you are. But if we don’t get past the second round during the time we’ve been here I don’t think people are going to remember us as great players.”
The Canucks must wait until Thursday, when the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks collide in Game 7 of the conference semifinals, to learn who their Western Conference final opponent will be.
That best-of-seven series begins here on Sunday with Game 2 on May 18.
Vancouver defeated Nashville and Chicago to reach the conference final for the first time in 17 years.
That’s only a job half done, said Henrik, the elder of the identical twins by a few minutes and the taller by an inch at six foot two.
“It’s nice all those things but if we had been here three or four or five more years and have never been past the second round or hadn’t done anything, we’ve had good careers but nothing more.”
Getting a chance to compete in the Cup final has dominated their 10-year NHL careers that have included eight playoff seasons and four appearances in the second round.
“That’s what we’re really working for, every summer working out and every year coming back that’s what we strive for,” said Henrik, who grew up wanting to win a world championship.
Priorities changed when the twins signed with Vancouver.
“Right now it’s Stanley Cup, and then after that nothing and then maybe the Olympics, but I won that already,” Henrik said.
He has curbed his enthusiasm after jumping up and down on the bench as the Game 6 seconds ticked down in Nashville after helping set up Daniel’s 2-1 game-winning goal.
“We’re not happy where we are, but at the same time we’ve never been past the second round,” Henrik said. “It was a great feeling after the game in Nashville. We know we have more to do.”
Henrik Sedin has been an outwardly quiet captain since goalie Roberto Luongo asked to be relieved of that burden at the start of the season.
“He’s been a leader ever since I’ve come to this club,” said Mason Raymond, who scored his first goal in 13 playoff games Monday against the Predators.
“I think he’s a huge guy that leads by example but if there’s something to be said, he’s definitely there to voice his opinion.”
Like most athletes waiting for a playoff opponent to be determined, Canuck players wouldn’t express a preference.
“We’re hoping for 10 periods,” Henrik Sedin joked of Thursday’s game.
He doesn’t expect the survivor to be sluggish on Sunday.
“It’s playoffs, I don’t think you can count on anyone being tired,” Henrik said.
Both the Wings and the Sharks play offensive-minded, puck possession games similar to that of Vancouver which set regular-season franchise records of 117 points and 54 wins.
“It’s definitely going to be a different series for us,” said Christian Ehrhoff. “Nashville plays a different style of game and we adapted to that. We had to play a lot more of a patient game.”
Ehrhoff is tied with former San Jose teammate Dan Boyle for the playoff scoring lead among defencemen with two goals and nine points
Maxim Lapierre, added at the trade deadline and the only Canuck other than Mikael Samuelsson and Raffi Torres to play in a conference final, wants to go further than last season with Montreal.
“It’s pretty tough when you come that far and you get kicked out,” he said of the Canadiens’ East final loss to Philadelphia.
“You dream as a kid to win a Stanley Cup and when you are that close it is a tough moment. So you want to make sure the guys realize it doesn’t happen to everybody every year to be in that situation.”
NOTES: Lapierre has been credited with 49 hits in 13 games, tops in the playoffs … Henrik Sedin finished fourth in NHL scoring with 94 points, including a league-leading 75 assists. He’s the league’s second-longest ironman, playing in 498 consecutive games … The Canucks will play their first away games in the series in either Detroit or San Jose on May 20 and 22.