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Torts and The Twins

Or... How we got from "OMG the Sedins can't BLOCK SHOTS" to " How about that, they can do that really well too", just like everything else they do on the ice. Almost like Daniel and Henrik Sedin are really good complete hockey players or something. Coach sure loves his UberFit SwedishPros. ( Yes, it IS 3000 words. But you're on holidays, so you have more time then, right? ;-)

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

I don't have to sell Vancouver fans on the two greatest offensive players to ever play for the Vancouver Canucks.  We have a whole vocabulary when it comes to the two identical brothers from Ornskoldsvik, Sweden. Wizardous Sedinerie to "how in the hell did Henrik make that pass " ( see below...he said he saw Daniel coming.  I've watched this clip multiple times. I call BS. No offense to Captain Canuck., but at no time there do you look at him Hank ! )

Such wonderment has been a part of the lexicon used to describe their unique style of play in this city for a very long time,. It is and was a deep and ever changing relationship with the 1999 draft picks for Vancouver hockey fans. The vast majority who can't even remember that, yes, they once got drunk an made a Sedin Sister "joke".

And even though itt was more you opposing fans out there, who went so easiily for the "always not funny" gender specific insult that quickly turned to sincere naked desire by your fanbases the two times they came up for contracts. Sure, we have a minority of crazypants haters who talk Sedin smack. We have crazypants subsets of Canuck Nation that say a lot of things... No one really listens to those folks, and certainly not about the Twins any more...there a re a lot more of us on the other side of that ledger these days.

Some folks will still tell you Brian Burke is the best GM in the NHL for realizing the Sedin brothers were the only superstar talent in the 1st  round in 1999.

Great old video linked above from back when the Twins were just going to come over from Sweden in 2000...after they WERE the 1999 Draft....( Just go here and scroll down.The only guy approaching "star" designation in The Twins' 1st round is Martin Havlat. All apologies to Barratt Jackman and Taylor Pyatt, also fellow 1st rounders, but I have long proclaimed the 1999 draft was one of historical suckage. )

Without going all Don Cherry, it was a year of a LOT of Russian, Slovak and Czech picks through the draft, and when you have to get to Martin Erat in the 7th for Nashville, and Douglas Murray in the 8th for the Sharks as highlights of the draft...well...nuff said of that year's selections. They were well worth the wait of the extra year that came with them coming over to play in the NHL.

Me, I have always had a positive fan / player relationship with the Twins as players.  Misunderstood and sizzled in the glare of the sometimes overwrought media spotlight that they have since grown into so well, even when all they dseemed to do was stay after every game to answer every sometimes snippy question with honest sincerity. Always practicing hard, and training all year.  Again, what not to like!?

Always positive and looking to get better. We know how tough it is to play the SuperCycle, with the defenders being allowed up to 10-12 cross checks to the back when on Boston home ice without a call never ever...just sayin' ...part of the way teams "adapted is by getting away with far more on two identical superstars than ...say, Sidney does ever has to tolerate before an official gives the Pens a power play.

Everyone can cycle, but no one else turned it quite into an art form as the O' Town Sweden duo. You simply cannot go wrong with a couple of genuine good people that are always striving to get better, and are always adding to their game.  It used to be that the SuperCycle with Burrows was too much for most the NHL teams to handle. As defenders adapted, they did as well, becoming more lethal on the rush with Alexandre Burrows helping them learn and adapt.  They play 3 dimensional chess while everyone else plays checkers.

Wanna see some? When you search Sedins, "The Shift" ( there is more than one! ) you get... ( from 10/13 /2007...) maybe the first time that term was used as a term of "wow, they did that for HOW long"?

Or this one from the playoffs in 2011 that made the Sharks weep. ( BTW CBC, they're pretty much the same as their regular season production in the playoffs in their SHUT UP Simpson !

Or this mastery of the poor Flambes with Burrows and others from last April. I think they actually made Kipper cry that night!

Just imagine how Torts felt after seeing a few of these, and then seeing the fitness tests of his two oldest skaters.  Coming to every camp in better shape than the year before, continually ( for how long now?  It was a shock that Mike Santorelli actually won a fitness test this year in the 12 minute run. The Twins have long dominated the tests that every player goes through on that first day back, and are two of the fittest players in the league ) leading the way in that most basic of requirements of an elite athlete. For as long as we can remember in this city. To a point where I honestly cannot remember who won those things before the Twins came over in 2000.

That is fact stated without hyperbole. Is it any wonder that John Tortorella goes out of his way to laud them as players for as long as the media will listen?  Was he ever this loquacious in New York when it came to talking about anyone on that team? Seems like he can't stop talking about them. Maybe it has something to do with this kind of dedication ....from two years before Torts came to work here...

( an aside, the dance that Torts does with out ever hungry Canuck media parade is fascinating to watch. He's about the best coach I've seen here at explaining the game and what he wants from the players. Its all honesty for the right reasons, and praise for the same. You get the feeling of why players always want to play hard for the man )

They have always been likable for their acts off the ice as much as the players we have all had the pleasure of watching grow into being amongst the top, top, toppiest echelon of players of the greatest team game on the planet, all the while still dealing with crap from ( usually opposing fanbases ) haters so irrational  that maybe only Barack Obama might be able to nod knowingly at it all and understand.  And they have done it with a positive attitude and a smile.

What's not to like?  Well, the folks elsewhere might want to posit this and that based on age. And while they are currently 42 and 43 ( that uncanny ability to have mirroring stats has always been fascinating as well. Pass and Shot, Puck Yin and Stick Yang,  ) , though there are a lot of ties, so whatever. Sid leads the NHL at 1.38 points per game, and the Twins have 33 points in 39 games.  This year, they are a .85 PPG.

Career?  Well, Henrik has 191 goals and 634 assists to date, in 979 games played. Those numbers are good for a career .842 points per game. Daniel for the career? His 303 goals, and 488 assists were attained in 945 games.  That works out to .837 PPG.    So, both are playing at their career levels of production in their first year with Torts and getting to play in all situations, instead of AV's situational "playing the advantages" style as well.

One stat where the Sedins are top of the league with guys like Sidney Crosby and other stalwarts is TOI.  Their TOI / G is 4th-5th only to Sidney, Ryan Kesler and Mikko Koivu. ( damn Finns ) with Sid playing 22:14 a game, Kes the only other player at 22 min + at 22:05, and Koivu just 5 seconds ahead of the Twins'  21:28 for Hank, 21:24 for Dank. We know Torts likes playing his stars, but all three of those Canucks ( the only team with three guys at 21 minutes + per game in the NHL, a list that follows our long time identical superstars with Martin St Louis, ( 21:21 ) Alex Ovechkin (:16 ), Claude Giroux ( :12 ), Anze Kopitar, (:11 ), James van Reimsdyk, Pavel Datsyuk ( ties at 21:06 ! Randy Carlyle plays his guys too ! ) Tyler Bozak ( in only 16 games ) 21:04, with Ryan Getzlaf just missing at 20:55 TOI / G .

Heady company, to be sure. Even more so when you consider the minute more a game average each is getting on the penalty kill, something they have not done since Mark Crawford was the coach, averaging in the single digits more often than not in 4 on 5 play under "Mr Situational" Viggy. ( As in around 4-10 or so seconds a game.  in their last year under AV ) Both are 1:02 ( Hank ) and 1:00 shorthanded time on ice in the 2013 - 2014 season so far.

That's 19:4 % of the teams SH icetime this year for Hank. Check their usage at the always excellent here --->  ( Hank ) ( Daniel ). The usage is actually a little bit more on the power play by Torts,, for instance  ( another great feature is the easily visible last season compared to this one display ), but tons more shorthanded. They've had this kind of success on the penalty kill so far. You don't kill penalties for a long time, and you have 2 goals against each on it all year while averaging a minute a game on the kill. You knew that in the poreseason, didn't you ;- )

Yeah, sure you did.

So, the Twins are playing at their career average for points , right now, in their 1st year under the new regime, contributing on the ice in all situations, and getting effusive praise at every opportunity the coach has.

Is it Torts, or is it the Twins and their remarkable consistency and production? The increased ice time?

Let us start at the most celebrated ( and silly meme of the pre season if you with the new coach if you ask me ) narrative of blocked shots. In 48 and 47 games respectively, Hank had 9 of those, and Danny had 7.  So far, in only 39 games each, Hank is at 11, and Dank has 9.  So, that's increased production in another way.  ( I don't know about you, but I love watching the symmetry in that last part of the PK. They get in position and ready to block the shot very well. Still the pressure, but now you have puck possession and a threat.  I can't wait for the inevitable shorty for one or the other ).

How about more "stiffness"? ( My fave of the Torts' euphemisms ) Well, Hank is a badass with 21 hits in 39 games, compared to his bro's 16 physical hits in the same number of games. In that truncated season last year?  Well, Hank was once again the more physical brother with 22 hits, to only 15 for Daniel. Like the blocks, both are exceeding last season in 9 and 8 games less respectively.

Last year, Daniel gave the puck away 21 times, with Hank having 2 less in that column.  Hank ( the centre, it should be noted in some of these stats, gets more of them by the very nature of what their position does ) had 21 takeaways last year compared to 16 for Daniel. This year? Well, in what could be called the "bad" one of those puck possession stats, Hank has 14 giveaways in 9 less games than the 48 he played last year, when he had 19. Daniel only has 10 so far. Daniel's 13 takeaways so far just edges his older brother's 12 takeaways of the puck ( a stat, it should be known, that, by definition, is a defensive stat.

( throwing in the giveaways definition here too )

Takeaway – By definition a takeaway occurs when pressure from the defending team results in a defending player gaining possession of the puck. 
Giveaway – A giveaway is when a players own actions result in a loss of possession to the opposing team.

Also, please do not forget the paradox of players that have lots of giveaways are usually very good with it, as the SBNmothership reminds us of here... this also includes some of the clearest and easiest to get definitions of advanced stats around. Thanks Travis!

When you niggle around with the usage tabs for Hank and Dank herein, you see that they have some variance, but a remarkable symmetry, and difference appear from AV's zone starts to Torts' usage.  Not totally, but enough to know how it is more likely the players more than the coach and where he starts his guys.

Henrik, for instance...this is his year over year usage from last year to this one.

Sure, Henrik had more offensive zone starts last year to this one, and has more neutral zone starts this year over last, but apart from the almost quadrupling of his ice time on the penalty kill, and the slight increase ( from 31.5 % for AV, and 35% for Torts in total % of his team's ice time ) in total time, check out the QoC table right underneath.  It's almost identical.

Pretty similar numbers for Daniel in the same tables

And the same almost identical amount of symmetry in last years numbers compared to this one as far as QoC goes.

It will be interesting to see how the definite emergence of a Set of ACES on what may be called a '2nd line" will change things as far as how other coaches play the Twins.  While Daniel's PDO  ( shooting % + save %, a decent indicator of "luck" or the" bounces" go, as far as being able to score. A PDO of 100+ is the goal to attain. Here's this years Tops in the NHL. as far as playing 5 on 5. ( and a good hint at why the Ducks are way up the standings ! ) with Penner tops at 107.6 PDO.

Top Canuck is first pager ( and yet another stat for Mr Everything Jr, huh? ) Mike Santorelli at 103.5 PDO. Ryan Kesler is tied with Daniel at 102.2, Henrik is 101.8 PDO ( Higgy is 99.6 % this year, over 98.5 for the shortened season just past. )  The second and third lines change, the line mates ( especially in Burrow's injury plagued year ) vary, and vary and vary, but the Twins just play well.

Even though the numbers show them to be very effective in their new roles, and just as good in the myriad of great things they already did for the team, as well as being able to play with just about anyone on the roster like they have before and will again.

I do think that John Tortorella has made the Sedin Twins "stiffer" to play against. You can see it in how they play his more aggressive than AV's style with glee. At least I can. ( They look more engaged on the ice, every night. ) Perhaps a few blocks and hits are only coarse indicators. Consider the different way they are helping skin the cat, compared to those back to back President Trophy years that some call the Twins' zenith.  Torts just puts them in the position to play. It's them that does the deed.

I leave you with this. In 2011, the Canucks were 1st in goals with 258, for 3.15 / G. Part of that was being 7th with 165 five on five goals.  In the last full season, that dropped to 5th overall with 241 goals, with 160 of them being at even strength, good enough for 8th in the NHL.

In the "season of change" ( remember, a 48 game season, and no Eastern teams to feast on made last year's stats a nightmare to get a handle on teams with ) Canuck scoring fell off a cliff to 19th, at 2.54 /G scoring tied with Detroit, and just 2 goals behind the Oilers for crying out loud! The 84 goals they got in those 48 games 5 on 5, was only 2 more than those same Oil.

But this year, with a new system, so far an 11th place scoring ( 7th in West ) 104 goals, for a 2.67 GF / G being a bit better ( without using zone starts, and line matching only sometimes ) Vancouver jumped to 6th with 74 5 on 5 goals, ( check the list here. The West is so good...The Top 6 are all West teams in 5 on 5 scoring, before the high powered Penguins at 7th.

Shit, apart from the Sens being 9th, EIGHT of the Top 10 5 on 5 scoring teams this year are in the West, with Central teams being 1st ( Hawks ),3rd ( St Louis ) 5th ( Dallas ) and 8th ( Colorado ) and Pacific teams holding down the 2nd ( Anaheim ) 4th  ( San Jose ), 6th ( Canucks ) and 10th for the Coyotes.

So, against ridiculously more dominant competition, it seams, so far the Canucks are holding their own just fine competitively. Imagine if that power play gets going again ( the Canucks currently have the 24th PP at 15.3 %. With talent that was, yes, only 22nd in the shortened season, but was 4th and 1st with a lot of the same personnel in years past. It's the coaching staff's biggest task in the remainder of this season.

There's is a lot of room for improvement when you consider the penalty kill is 1st at 89.4%, 1st in PPGA with only 13 given up so far, so much tighter than even a decent PK in the 48 gamer against Western powerhouse, 8th at 84 % and 11th at 27 goals given up in 48 games.

Consider that it was 6th in 11-12 at 86%, 8th with 40 goals against ( same as the Kings ), and tied with the Capitals at 85.6%  for 2nd, with the 45 PPGA being good enough for 7th that year.

Special teams are benefitting from the Twins in new ways already this year on the PK. Let's see if the second half can make the team really have the rest of the West's attention with an improved power play that can and should get back on track.  They have already contributed generously to having the best PK in the NHL so far this year. Rehabbing the moribund power play sounds like a plan for the Sedins to put their heads together on and fix next.

My favorite Torts interview on the Twins so far. Right after they resigned.


Amen coach, amen...