VANCOUVER, British Columbia – There is a familiar face atop the NHL scoring race. But the league will still have to engrave a new name on the Art Ross Trophy for its leading scorer.
One year after Henrik Sedin led the league with 112 points, twin brother Daniel finished atop the NHL with 104 points, becoming the first brothers to win the Art Ross Trophy in consecutive seasons.
Siblings have claimed NHL scoring titles in the past — Roy Conacher won in 1949 after Charlie Conacher in 1934 and 1935; Doug Bentley topped the league in 1943, followed by Max Bentley in 1946 and 1947 — but none were able to do it back-to-back.
"To see Henrik do it last year was unbelievable and to be able to do it again this year is amazing," Daniel said after practicing Monday in preparation for a first-round playoff series against Chicago. "You might not ever get another chance, so it's nice to be able to get it done."
Henrik, who finished fourth in scoring this season with 94 points, was happy for his brother. Still he couldn't resist taking a gentle shot at Daniel.
"It's not that special anymore for me," said a smiling Henrik, pointing out that his brother's winning total was eight behind his own. "I told him that for sure."
Kidding aside, the Sedins credit each other for their success.
Their unique ability to cycle the puck between each other has left NHL defenders spinning for more than a decade.
But the Sedins insist the short little passes and bank plays off the boards — often to a spot where the other will be, rather than where they were — are a product of playing together since minor hockey, not some kind of extra-sensory perception or special power privy to identical twins.
Teammate Kevin Bieksa says they simply think the game at another level.
"Two of the smartest hockey guys ever," Bieksa said.
The defenseman pointed to two plays the Sedins started that have since been copied. The first is a slap pass on the power play, and the second is a hard pass out of their own end that appears to be icing — before it bounces off the far boards to the other brother cutting behind the defense.
"It's not like it s a super skilled play," Bieksa said. "It s just an amazingly smart one that no one thought about using before the twins. But now you see other guys around the league using it."
The Sedins credit having each other as a workout partner for the annual physical improvements that have accompanied a steady rise in production, saying it's harder to cheat or take a day off with the other one pushing.
But it was the broken foot that kept Daniel out 19 games last season, that led to their jump from reliable point-a-game players, to back-to-back NHL scoring titles.
"It was more a confidence-builder to see he could do it without me," said Daniel, who still got 85 points in 63 games. "If we played the same way this year why couldn't we do it again?"
In answering that question, the Sedins now also have a chance to become the first brothers to win separate Hart Trophies as league MVP. But Daniel isn't thinking about that.
"Our job is to score goals and score points and I'm more proud of that," he said.
The Sedin's totals helped Vancouver lead the NHL with 262 goals, while leading the No. 1 power play. And their combined plus-56 rating was a factor in being the NHL's best defensive team, with just 185 goals against, becoming the first team since the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens to top the league in both offense and defense. None of which means a thing now.
Not with a first-round series against defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago — the team that knocked them out the past two seasons — starting Wednesday in Vancouver.
"This group knows we're not going to be judged on what we did in the regular season," coach Alain Vigneault said when asked about the Sedins. "We're going to be judged on what we do in the playoffs. Everything we've done so far is to get us ready for that playoff moment."