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Vancouver Canucks Daniel and Henrik Sedin have responded to comments by Versus analyst Mike Milbury. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Darryl Dyck/CP

The 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs have been a microcosm of their careers.

There's been some good, some outstanding, some bad and some disappearing acts, and yet the end result is what it always is with the Sedin twins: productive.

Criticized in the second-round for no-showing against the Nashville Predators, and against the Chicago Blackhawks for becoming a defensive liability, Vancouver Canucks forward Henrik Sedin emerged Monday as the NHL's leading playoff scorer after a four-assist performance against the San Jose Sharks in Game 4.

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He has 19 points in 17 games, and led four players, including his brother, by two points prior to Monday's Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final. Daniel Sedin, meanwhile, has eight goals, which trailed only Tampa Bay Lightning forward Sean Bergenheim among playoff scorers, with a league-high five coming on the power play.

With the Canucks leading the Sharks 3-1 in the best-of-seven Western Conference final, and having a chance Tuesday to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup final with a win, the Sedins have jumped back into the Conn Smythe Trophy debate. They've been dominant against San Jose, combining for 15 points in four games after netting just seven points in a six-game series against the Predators.

"In the regular season, you've got 82 games, and there is going to be ups and downs," said Henrik, who has set club records for assists in a playoff game, series and season this spring. "Good teams find ways to win and move on, and then you're going to get a chance to redeem yourself. And that's what we've had this year."

Undoubtedly, had the Canucks dropped that dramatic Game 7 to the Blackhawks in the first round, the progress the Sedin brothers has made as playoff performers over the last three years would have been lost. They would've been back at square one - terrific producers during the season, but not suited for postseason hockey.

Just two weeks ago, they were hearing they didn't have another gear, that because neither is fleet afoot, their playoff potential was limited to half-court offence on the power play and on the rare occasions when Vancouver could set up in the opponent's zone at even strength.

Of course, none of that rattled them. The Sedins have been punching bags for years, and yet their demeanours never change.

"We believe in ourselves," Henrik said when asked how the twins have turned it around against the Sharks. "We believe even though maybe everyone on the outside hasn't. We believe that we're good players, and we're playoff players, and that we can show up in big games."

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There's a reason for this scoring outburst.

The Predators stacked the blueline, forced the Canucks to dump and chase, and took few chances on the offensive end. The Sharks, conversely, want to play a puck-possession style and take more chances, which plays right into the twins' hands.

"They're a good defensive team, don't get me wrong," Henrik said. "But they got guys who want to score."

For their teammates and coaches, criticisms of the Sedins this spring - or over their decade in Vancouver - have been "unfair," according to defenceman Sami Salo. Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault did his best to sugarcoat their performance against the Preds, and the twins weren't exactly hard on themselves, clinging to the mantra that they were generating chances, just not finishing.

That was the public line, and yet almost every time the Canucks took to the practice sheet, you could bank on one of the twins, if not both, being the first ones on the ice, working to get back to the high standard they're held to.

"They've got a great mindset," goaltender Roberto Luongo said. "They don't let anything affect them. Obviously, [reporters]don't see them in everyday life, and outside the rink, but they're always in a good mood. Always even-keeled … they don't let that stuff affect them. They know they have talent, and they keep working."

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About the Author
B.C. sports correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Matthew spearheads the Globe's sports coverage in B.C., and spends most of his time with the NHL Canucks and CFL Lions. He has worked for four dailies and TSN since graduating from Carleton University's School of Journalism a decade ago, and has covered the Olympic Games, Super Bowls, Grey Cups, the Stanley Cup playoffs and the NBA Finals. More

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