Attempting to Make Sense of the Sedins & Raymond ExperimentPosted: March 19, 2012
Over the past couple of games against the Coyotes and Blue Jackets the Sedins appear to have come out of their worse offensive slump in decades. The astonishing thing is they did it with Mason Raymond on their line.
Much has been said of this odd line combination. Why put a struggling forward with no self confidence with 2 struggling twins who seem to have lost their twin-ESP? It didn’t make sense to a lot of people – me included for a while.
But I think I have seen through Alain Vigneault’s swarthy grin and worked out his zany scheme.
The Sedins have been dominating play down low for years now. They get the puck, take it to the corners, cycle, cycle, cycle, then cycle some more, then when the perfect chance opens up they take it, go Burrows to Henrik to Daniel (or vice versa) and the puck is in the back of the net. This hasn’t been happening lately.
Thanks to guys like Pahlsson (keep your enemies close), Bolland, Suter and Chara teams around the NHL have seen how to shut the Sedins down. Don’t chase the puck – just play them physically, check them tighter than a nun’s nasty and watch the scoring dry up (seriously, no pun intended). Now every team with a decent checking line and good d plays the Sedins the same way and hey presto! They aren’t scoring.
I’ve espoused via my Twitter feed that the Sedins need to evolve. Everyone knows how they play now and they have figured out how to nullify it so it’s time to try something different. AV seems to agree with me and hence we have – Mason Raymond.
Raymond does one thing really well – he carries the puck across the blue line with speed. This pushes the d back and gives him room to move. Unfortunately this is where his game fails because once he gets to this point he either a) goes along the boards right around the net and back to the blue line, where he falls and loses the puck or b) he just falls and loses the puck then and there. But what if he gains the offensive zone with speed and makes all that room… for the Sedins? Raymond enters along the wing, centering pass to Henrik… All of a sudden Henrik and Daniel have room to make plays of wizardous proportions on the rush and they aren’t getting rubbed off the puck along the boards or stick checked to oblivion in the neutral zone.
The problem is that the Sedins are so set in their ways that if they don’t hold possession of the puck for hours they feel empty inside. So they continue to try and play the same way and their opponents revel in the joy of crushing a Swedish twin from behind (again, no pun intended).
I don’t think we can count the Sedins points against the Blue Jackets as their escape from the slump. The Blue Jackets d isn’t exactly good, or tight checking (as displayed on Alex Edler’s end to end rush goal). Henrik and Daniel need to evolve. Obviously don’t abandon their tried and true down low cycle ways if the opportunity arises, but be prepared to play differently when that option isn’t available to you. If AV continues to play Raymond with them, they have to learn to utilise his speed.