NHL Playoffs latest: Henrik Sedin says Daniel is "100 per cent"
Top winger, concussed by a vicious elbow from Duncan Keith on March 21, not available to media after practice ended
Daniel Sedin during the team's practice at Rogers Arena in Vancouver April 9, 2012. The Canucks face the Los Angeles Kings April 11, 2012 at home in the first round of the Western Conference in the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.
Photograph by: Ric Ernst, PNG
The betting line on Daniel Sedin skating on his own before he practised with the Vancouver Canucks on Monday was 50-50, depending on who you talked to and who was trying to keep that supposedly vital information under wraps.
Welcome to the NHL playoffs, where everything isn’t quite as it appears and the optics are often blurry.
However, two things were made clear even though the Canucks didn’t adhere to their protocol of making players available to the media once they practise following injury. Daniel Sedin did skate at least once on his own, according to coach Alain Vigneault, and the health of the skating yet silent winger is good, according to Henrik Sedin.
“He’s 100 per cent,” said the Canucks captain. “It was good to see him out there. It’s been a while. He looks good. We’re happy. If he wouldn’t have been out there today, he would have been a real long shot for Wednesday. That’s a good sign.”
When the Presidents’ Trophy winners open their Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Los Angeles Kings, expect the 30-goal sniper to be back on the first line with Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows and back on the struggling first power-play alignment that’s in a 16-for-120 funk since exploding for four goals on Jan. 7 in Boston.
After missing nine games when he was concussed March 21 by an elbow to the chin from Duncan Keith — a vicious hit that saw the Chicago defenceman suspended for five games — there was a sense at practice Monday that Daniel’s stride is strong and he was making the right plays because his thought process was clear. If there’s a problem, it could arise post practice but there was every reason to believe that the winger will play in Game 1.
“He looked good,” said Vigneault. “It’s not going to be my decision, it’s going to be a medical decision. We’ll see how he’s doing [Tuesday]. He’s had some real good days and this is a unique injury and we have to take it a day at a time and see how he feels.”
Unlike sprains, strains or bone breaks, there’s no timetable for concussion recovery because players react differently to a brain bruise or a whiplash motion that causes headaches, dizziness, nausea and even sensitivity to light. The only theory is that multiple concussions can lengthen time away from the game.
Sidney Crosby missed 61 games the last two seasons after two concussions in a 10-day span and Chicago captain Jonathan Toews returned to practice Monday after missing 22 games with the same ailment. Canucks defenceman Keith Ballard is practising after missing 29 games with his concussion and won’t play in the series opener. Teammate Sami Salo missed six games from the whiplash he suffered on the Brad Marchand low-bridge hit that resulted in a five-game suspension to the Bruins agitator.
“A lot of symptoms are similar, but how your body reacts can be completely different,” said Ballard. “They’re not out there because playoffs are starting, they’re out there because they’re healthy and have gone through the necessary steps. I’m happy for Dany and Toews because it’s not a fun process to go through. I don’t have symptoms. It’s more about high speed and the tempo and making two or three reads and finding the open guy and making plays under pressure. That helped. It takes a minute to get into the flow.”
Henrik said there was little he could advise his brother on how to handle the concussion. Demeanours can change during concussions and irritability is a common trait, but the Canucks captain said Daniel has kept a positive outlook and is anxious to return to form. The winger missed 18 games after fracturing a foot in an Oct. 7, 2009 game and still finished with 29 goals in 63 games. Henrik had a career high 29 in 82 games. But that was a a broken foot for Daniel. This is different.
“One day you feel better and the next day you don’t feel as good — that’s been the tough part for him,” said Henrik. “The first couple of days, just calling him you could tell something was wrong. He’s always happy and never sees anything bad in anything and that was tough for me to talk to him and tell him something was up.”
It’s only natural for stars to be targeted in the postseason — it’s hard to forget Marchand treating Daniel like a speed bag in the Stanley Cup final last spring — and Henrik expects that his linemate will be in the crosshairs again, even if he hadn’t suffered a concussion.
“I don’t think it’s going to be any different than before,” said the centre. “Guys are going to try and hit him and me and other players.”
The Canucks went 2-1-1 in their season series with the Kings and what likely won’t change is low scores and that 1-0 decision posted over Los Angeles on March 26 might be a playoff preview. But getting Daniel back will spread out the attack that lacked a 100-point producer or 40-goal scorer.
With Ryan Kesler between Mason Raymond and David Booth and Samme Pahlsson centring Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen, there’s enough in the top-nine mix to be opportunistic and responsible defensively. And Maxim Lapierre between Manny Malhotra and Byron Bitz on the fourth line provides a dimension that wasn’t there a year ago because Dale Weise and Zack Kassian, practising after a shoulder injury, are viable options. However, Daniel is the game-breaker and getting him back could swing the series the Canucks’ way.
“It would be huge,” said Burrows. “He’s one of the top players in the world. He brings so much to the table offensively and is reliable defensively. He was very good with the puck today and made some nice plays.”
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