Earlier this afternoon in the great Scandinavian nation of Sweden, Henrik Sedin put up two goals and an assist — including the game-winner — to lead his Tres Kronor to a World Hockey Championship title over Switzerland. It's the first time the host nation has won gold since 1986. As a fan of the Vancouver Canucks, I was sort of hoping the Sedins would help end a different title drought this spring, but I guess this will do.
Here are Henrik's thoughts on the game courtesy of the IIHF's official recap:
"It was a tight game," Henrik said. "It could have gone either way, I felt. It was lucky we got our first two goals pretty quickly after their first one. After we scored our third, it felt pretty calm on the bench."
A great quote from Swedish Captain Staffan Kronwall on what the Sedins meant to their team:
"The Sedins came in and they gave us hope. They came in and changed the team for us, really."
Henrik and brother Daniel were a bit late to the party, joining Tres Kronor soon after Vancouver's four-game sweep at the hands of the San Jose Sharks, but they turned Sweden into a contender immediately upon arrival. Henrik finished with 9 points in 4 games, while Daniel finished with 6. Loui Eriksson was Sweden's top scorer with 10 points, but he played in all 10 games.
The area where the Sedins helped the most was on the power play, as they were able to take advantage of the larger ice surface to feast on inferior opponents. After fighting to find a groove on the man advantage all season in the NHL, the twins looked refreshed on international ice.
Fans are already using this as evidence that somehow Alain Vigneault and the coaching staff were holding Daniel and Henrik back this year, as if the extra room and the considerably lower level of opposition talent had nothing to do with it. The Sedins get all the prime offensive zone shifts and top power play minutes in Vancouver; if they're being stifled by anyone it's the world class players that are usually defending them, not the coaches.
There are, however, some interesting questions that arose from their play at the Worlds. First, they were being used to kill penalties, which they have never done in Vancouver. The Sedins proved they can handle a tough defensive workload this season, so perhaps this is something that whomever is coaching the Canucks next season will consider?
Secondly, the twins showed great chemistry with linemate Loui Eriksson, who is rumoured to be on the trade market. Is an Edler-for-Eriksson swap a possibility? He's one of the more well-rounded players in the NHL, and would provide the shot of offense the team has needed for two seasons now.
With their new super weird gold helmets, the Sedins are one trophy away from hockey's Triple Gold Club. Even though they were a game away in 2011, somehow the twins still carry around this stigma that they can't win when it matters. Because of that, it was fun to see them not just win gold but carry a team while doing it. They proved they can win, and that at 32-years-old they still have a lot left in the tank.
Any chance the new coach lets them wear those helmets next season?