Through four game in the team’s preliminary round series against the Los Angeles Kings, the Canucks have barely been able to buy a goal. Despite out-shooting and out-chancing their opponents, only four of Vancouver’s shots have found the back of the net, and only two of those four goals came off of scoring chances.
Clearly the Canucks miss their leading scorer Daniel Sedin, and lo and behold, with the club on the brink of becoming the first President’s Trophy winner to be swept in round one of the postseason, Daniel returned to practice Tuesday afternoon. While the proposition of him dressing in game four remains presumptuous, it certainly looks like he’s preparing for the possibility of suiting up for Wednesday night’s game.
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We can’t know for sure what Daniel Sedin’s health status is precisely, but he had an suspected setback after his last full team practice a week ago, and indications as recently as five days ago were that he’d miss the entire series. We don’t have access and can’t presume to know more than the doctors treating him do (hell, even those with access can’t be sure at this juncture), but certainly the timing of his sudden return to readiness is suspicious – to say the least.
As recently as last season, and despite both players having the benefit of accumulated knowledge about the dangers of head-injuries, Dave Bolland and Brent Seabrook played through concussion symptoms in their first round series against the Canucks. Could that be happening with Daniel Sedin?
Let’s hope not. Even with Daniel in the lineup, the Canucks need to win four straight against a superior possession side, and are highly unlikely to advance out of the first round this season. Further, the Kings don’t seem particularly well disposed to the idea of treating the Canucks star winger with any sort of special respect. As Drew Doughty told Ben Kuzma today:
"We’ll be just as physical against him as any other player. Even though he was out with a concussion, we’re not going to let up on him. I’m not going to be running around and trying to hurt him, but we’re still going to play him hard because we need this game and this series and we’re going to do everything we can to win it.
It’s very possible for a team to come back from 3-0 (2010 Flyers, 1975 Islanders, 1942 Leafs) and we’ve got to make sure we close it out and we have no excuse but to play our best game of the season."
Nothing Doughty said is anything but entirely reasonable. If Daniel Sedin is still suffering from concussion symptoms, it’s on the Canucks and the team’s doctors to ensure that he’s not exposed to any unnecessary, and potentially long-term risks. While Daniel’s presence on the ice is a possible series-changer for the Canucks, with the team in a probably insurmountable hole, risking his health at this juncture would be the definition of unnecessary. Daniel claims he’s been symptom free for a while but as Jason Botchford wrote today, presumably while hitting a nail directly on the head: "If the plan is to play him, it just feels so rushed."