By Derek Jory
Another good news/bad news day for the Vancouver Canucks as Daniel Sedin did not practice with the team, but coach Alain Vigneault confirmed he has not suffered a setback.
Mason Raymond skated in his place on Vancouver’s top trio, alongside Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows, at practice Tuesday and while everyone wanted answers regarding Daniel’s absence a day after he skated with the Canucks, none were available.
Henrik had no comment, while Vigneault said the team is simply following protocol.
“I’m not going to get into the exact protocol,” explained coach. “Yesterday was a day where we had five lines on the ice and nine defencemen and 20-somewhat players. It was a day with a lot of players on the ice to get a practice in with his teammates. It’s a unique injury and he will continue the protocol and when he’s ready to play, he’ll address you. Until then, he won’t talk to you.”
Vigneault added the Canucks are in the playoffs, it’s business time, so when Daniel is healthy, he’ll play.
Daniel was on the ice following practice with six others, including Andrew Ebbett, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Andrew Alberts, Dale Weise, Aaron Volpatti and Keith Ballard, for a 40-minute skate with skills coach Glenn Carnegie.
Read into all this what you will, but as of right now Daniel’s status for Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarter-Final Wednesday remains unknown.
KASS A QUESTION MARK
Zack Kassian skated with the main group and said he’s feeling better. If it were up to him, he said he’d play Wednesday, but the rookie acknowledged he does not have the power to make the final call.
“I think this time of year everyone wants to be playing no matter what,” said the 21-year-old. “I’m going to go talk to the trainers and they have the final say.”
Kassian is as excited as anyone to get the post-season going with this being the rookie’s first invitation to the dance. He’s played on some big stages, but nothing like this.
“The only thing that might even come a little bit close is the Memorial Cup, that was a long road, but this is the best league in the world and everyone ramps up their game. It’s tough to win hockey games and be the last team standing, this is definitely going to be a challenge.
“I’m very excited. The atmosphere in the city, the way they’re behind us, it’s special. All the players in this room respect that and appreciate it.”
Kassian is in the minority when it comes to playoff experience and those who were with the team for the run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final last season will draw from what they learned, good and bad.
“I think experience is experience, it doesn’t matter if it’s positive or negative, it was a fun run last year and we’re excited for the challenge again,” said Ryan Kesler, who said he is not comparing this team or this season to last year’s.
“It’s a clean slate, we’re starting over from scratch and it’s a good challenge and we’re going to be up for it.”
Roberto Luongo, who will start for the Canucks in Game 1, said after much thought, he’s focusing on the positive lessons learned from last season’s playoffs.
“I think we’re all better prepared,” said Luongo. “When you go through a process like that, it was a great journey for our team, you learn from the good and the bad and you try to use it to your advantage in the next season and learn from your mistakes and just be better as a team and individuals.”
-Coach Vigneault on what he expects from David Booth, who will make his NHL playoff debut after years spent with the then playoffless Florida Panthers. “I think he’s like the rest of our group, he’s very excited for the opportunity. It’s his first opportunity, but he seems ready for it. We’ve had some good meetings lately, he’s been participating real well and this is the best time of the year to play and it starts tomorrow against a real tough opponent. I think David is going to go out and put his best foot forward and work real hard.”
-The Canucks went 8-1-0 without Daniel Sedin, does that make the potential of not having him in the line-up to start the series easier to accept? “We’ve never talked about injuries,” said coach, “we’ve always focused on who we have healthy and who we have going in the line-up and trying to come up with ways to win with the people that we have. It hasn’t changed for whichever player is in or out, so it’s not going to change now.”
-Every season a player breaks out and elevates their game in the post-season. If Daniel Sedin misses anytime, that player could be Mason Raymond. “I think he’s real excited about these playoffs, he’s excited about turning the page on this season and rightfully so. There’s a young man who’s been through quite a bit from a serious injury to having a challenging season because he was a little bit behind, to becoming a father. Now it’s a new start.”
-The LA Kings scored 194 goals during the regular season, good for 29th in the NHL. That, according to Vigneault, is a deceiving stat. “Obviously we expect Carter to be in the line-up and the numbers are different when he’s in there. I think when he’s there they score almost three goals a game, which is at the upper end of the NHL. With that team, what you see is what you get, it’s a hardworking group, they come at you real hard and they’ve got, in our minds anyways, two lines that can score some goals and they’ve got two pretty good energy lines.”