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Kings' focus shifts to Sedins

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are on a mission to slow the Sedins, a mission that few teams are able to accomplish.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin, the Vancouver Canucks’ start twin-brother forwards, were reunited in Game 4 on Wednesday when Daniel returned from a concussion. The Sedins were on the ice for all three Vancouver goals as the Canucks stayed alive in the series by beating the Kings.

The series now shifts back to Vancouver for Game 5 on Sunday, and a major theme for the Kings has been trying to do a better job of keeping the Sedins under wraps, which is easier said than done.

Daniel Sedin finished the regular season with 30 goals and 37 assists in 72 games, while Henrik Sedin finished with 14 goals and 67 assists in 82 games. From an opponent’s perspective, the key to facing the Sedins isn’t necessarily hitting them hard, but limiting the open ice that they utilize to make plays. The twins are expert in making short passes to each other and weaving in and out to find open spots for shots.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter said his team was ``totally dominated’’ by the Sedins in Game 4 -- they skated with David Booth at even strength -- and Daniel Sedin looked sharp, even though he had missed 12 consecutive games because of a concussion.

``It seemed like they picked up right where they left off,’’ Anze Kopitar said. ``You have to be hard on them. You have to make them earn every inch of the ice, and that’s what we’re going to have to do.’’

At the same time, the Kings can’t afford to become totally Sedin-centered. The Canucks’ second line, of Mason Raymond, Ryan Kesler and Alexandre Burrows, features three players who scored a total of 60 goals during the regular season. The Sedins and Booth combined for 60 goals as well.

The Canucks, as the home team, will also get the benefit of the last line change in Game 5, although second-line winger Jeff Carter said he doesn’t expect his line’s matchup to change significantly.

``It’s either been Kesler or Sedin,’’ Carter said. ``I’d assume that we will probably see the Sedins again on Sunday. That’s kind of what we prepare for.’’

Sutter, and a few of his players, have been grumbling about the long break in action between Games 4 and 5 -- three full days between games -- but the down time has been good for at least one player.

Carter returned for the start of this series, after he missed the end of the regular season with an ankle injury. Carter has looked increasingly mobile in each of the four games, but after a two-assist effort in Game 1, Carter has not recorded a point in the last three games, and has a minus-3 rating.

That, it seems, has nothing to do with Carter’s ankle, which he said is continuing to improve.

``Yeah, it’s getting better,’’ Carter said. ``I think with the two days before the last game, and then the extra day here, it’s probably not an ideal situation (in general), but for myself personally and for some other guys around here that are a little banged up, it’s nice to get a little extra rest.’’

Kyle Clifford, out of the lineup since Game 1, did conditioning skating on Wednesday and Thursday but did not skate Friday, making it doubtful that he would be able to play in Game 5 on Sunday.

Scott Parse, out of the lineup since he underwent hip surgery in November, made it into a full-team practice Friday for the first time since his surgery but said he was ``not even close’’ to playing again.

``I’m just happy with how I feel right now,’’ said Parse, who also had major hip surgery last season. ``There’s no schedule. The hip feels really good, so that’s all I can say.’’

A single playoff series can have some twists and turns, and the major one in this series, so far, has been the ascension of Cory Schneider, who has supplanted Roberto Luongo in goal for the Canucks.

Schneider, in two games, has stopped 62 of 64 shots. Schneider started only 28 games in the regular season, but he’s no regular backup, as he is considered a future No. 1 goalie, either for the Canucks or another team that might acquire him via trade. The Kings know they face a challenge in Schneider.

``Well, we got a lot of shots at him (in Game 4), but I think we can get more quality shots, more second opportunities, more traffic,’’ Jarret Stoll said. ``The shot clock said 40, or whatever it said, but sometimes that can be a little askew too. It’s one of those things where you just have to come after him in the first period, get shots, get traffic, all those good things.

``He’s confident, too. He’s a good goaltender. I wouldn’t say he’s a backup, by any means, so we know we have to be good in front of him and not let him down. We have to make sure he sees a lot of rubber.’’
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