By Derek Jory
Daniel Sedin, who has not played since suffering a concussion at the hands of Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith on March 21st, will arrive in Los Angeles today to hopefully rejoin the Canucks for Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarter-Final.
The forward, who led Vancouver in scoring with 30 goals, will practice with the Canucks Tuesday and hopes to play Wednesday, but that has yet to be confirmed.
”Daniel is continuing to follow the protocol, he’s been cleared for practice with the team, so he’s flying in later on this afternoon,” said coach Alain Vigneault, outside the team hotel Monday afternoon.
With goals at a premium for the Canucks in this series, Vancouver getting its leading goal-scorer back when it needs him most would be a massive boost for the now underdog Presidents’ Trophy winners.
Whether Daniel plays or not in Game 4 isn’t up to Vigneault; regardless of the situation, the forward will not be rushed back before he’s ready to play.
”That won’t be my decision, that’s a medical decision, he’s been skating now for quite a few days, they feel that he’s progressed real well and he’s cleared to practice with the team, so exactly what that means we’ll have a better indication in the next couple of days.”
If he were to play…oh man, if he were to play…
”Obviously right now because Danny is not there we’ve got plenty of guys playing out of roles, out of their best possible position to help out this team, that’s nothing new, you go through that in a regular season,” said Vigneault. “But right now, with the level of competition that we’re up against and the situation that we’re faced with, obviously for him to be back in our line-up would be a big boost.”
HISTORY WILL BE MADE
It’s a shame the National Hockey League changed its slogan prior to the start of the 2012 Playoffs, because one way or another history will be made.
No Presidents’ Trophy winner has ever been swept in four games in the opening round and the Los Angeles Kings have never swept a playoff series, period.
If the Vancouver Canucks can rebound and steal a win in Game 4 to prevent both those things from happening, they’ll be en route to potentially a different kind of history.
Although the team is taking things one game at a time, a win Wednesday would put the Canucks down 3-1 in the best-of-seven Western Conference Quarter-Final, with Game 5 back in Vancouver Sunday.
A win in Game 5 and it’s on like Donkey Kong – sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Game 4 is the focus and it’s do or die in every sense of the word with the season on the line.
”We’re faced with a very tough task,” assessed coach Vigneualt. “I believe that we need to start this task by winning one period and if we win one period, we’ll focus on the next period. We really have to have a narrow, short, focused mindset right now and we’ll be talking about that for the next couple of days.”
For anyone writing off a possible Canucks comeback, simply turn your calendar back to a year ago when Vancouver held a 3-0 series lead over Chicago. Was there even a splinter of doubt the Canucks wouldn't win that series, possibly in a sweep?
Three bad losses later and next thing you knew the Canucks were in overtime of Game 7 with the series a goal away.
Keith Ballard said the Canucks are drawing on that experience to try and become the fourth NHL team ever, and fifth squad in pro sports, to comeback from down 3-0 to win a best-of-seven series.
”They were one great Roberto Luongo save away from winning that thing, it was that save he made in overtime in Game 7,” said Ballard. “We looked at that, that happened to us, we were a very good hockey team, we’re playing a good hockey team right now and we know we can produce that same thing. It starts with winning one game.”
”That’s how the playoffs are, it could go either way,” added Cory Schneider. “Last year when we were up on Chicago, it could have been 3-0 or 2-1 them, sometimes it just takes a bounce or one great play and it can shift the entire momentum of the series.”