Who's this guy?
Born: When "twin brother" Daniel split into two identical beings on his third birthday after ingesting mutated cake icing.
History: Failed in grade 10 but rebounded with the help of a tutor to get an A- in grade 12.
What'd he do?
Hank’s scoring was down marginally this year, putting up "just" 45 points in 48 games (his billionth straight season without missing any action). If you look more deeply at his profile, though, he posted this slight scoring decline in contrast to improving possession numbers against more difficult assignments. Nobody cares given the way the season ended with a whimper, but the main man in the middle is hardly a culprit at even strength. He was noticeably less effective on the power play, an issue that’s difficult to assign blame to a player or the system without a much more thorough analysis than this one.
So was he any good?
Unequivocally yes, Sedin remains one of the top offensive players in the league. He had the 10th best Corsi in the NHL, increasing his possession indicators for the second year in a row.
More importantly, he did so while taking on a much more team-friendly role. After peaking with 78.6% of shifts starting in the offensive zone in 2011-12, that rate fell all the way to 63.7% this year. That’s still a favorable deployment, but his line took on a more balanced role with the depth issues plaguing the middle further down the line-up. Hank also faced a much higher Corsi Rel QOC, an indicator of the quality of competition a player faces. I believe this passes the eye test, as well – the Sedin line just appeared to be in their own zone more, and the fact that their possession indicators rose at even strength despite more difficult assignments shows a versatility and maturity that hasn’t always been there.
Now, the power play also struggled, and he’s the captain of a team that limped out of the playoffs. Some blame falls on his shoulders for that, deservedly or not.
What'd we like?
This penalty shot is absolutely filthy.
Of course, the highlight of his season may have been this play, where he assisted on a Burrows goal to become the Canucks’ all time leader in points.
Some may not have liked this cheap shot on Couture in the playoffs, but I thought it was hilarious.
And finally, #trollsohard:
Cool. So what did we hate?
Again, the power play needs work. The unit fell to 22nd in the NHL with a league average number of opportunities, leaving the Canucks without what was previously a big competitive advantage (last year, they were fourth in efficacy and eighth in chances). It’s hard to just assign blame to the centreman, though the fact that his faceoff success rate dipped below 50% certainly doesn’t help (I believe studies have shown FO% isn’t a huge factor, but I’d guess it has more of an impact on special teams – somebody correct me if I’m wrong, please).
I also hate his face. Not him, but his face. As a "new" Canucks fan (I moved here in August), I was really looking forward to watching the twins more closely, as they’re extremely talented offensive players. However, the fact that they insist on matching haircuts, facial hair and generic clichés drives me nuts. You’re 32 years old, I think you can detach the bunk beds and get your own style - I'd love to see them with contrasting images, it'd be hilarious.
So what now?
That’s a great question. To get the most offensively out of the Sedins, the key for the Canucks is to improve the second and third lines, allowing them more favorable assignments and more zone starts to create with.
Another potential issue, though, is that mid-30s forwards are a risky proposition. Since 1995, there have been 132 player seasons where age 31-32 forwards averaged more than 0.75 points per game. That drops to 106 for age 33-34, a 20% drop-off. This is to be expected as players age and get injured and retire early, sure. There’s also a built-in decline as the scoring environment has decreased over time. But if we move the threshold to 0.9 points per game, the number of player seasons drops from 62 to 45, a 27% decrease. The Sedins might very well have a few good years left, but their chances of remaining elite decline with each passing year, and about a quarter of high-scoring forwards appear to fall out of the elite around this age. (Note: this needs more in-depth study and is meant as a "be careful with expectations" than a doomsday warning.) Hank needs to try and tidy up his draws and make sure he stays in excellent playing shape to remain effective in 2013-14. But the biggest impact to his performance could come from changes to the team elsewhere in the line-up.