Daniel Sedin makes instant impact
Daniel Sedin's return to the Canucks' lineup provided a noticeable lift up throughout the roster.
The Vancouver Canucks didn't get one Art Ross Trophy winner back when Daniel Sedin returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing almost a month with a concussion.
SOG: 3 | +/-: 1
They actually got the NHL's last two regular-season scoring leaders back.
Daniel's return in Game 4 also provided a noticeable lift to identical twin Henrik, who won the Art Ross in 2009-10, a year ahead of his younger (by minutes) brother. Daniel's spinning, blind backhand pass to the point led to Henrik's power-play goal early in the third period of a 3-1 win that kept the Canucks' season alive, prevented a Los Angeles Kings' sweep and forced a Game 5 in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series back in Vancouver on Sunday.
It was one of many inspired plays in the Sedins' reunion.
"It was spectacular again to watch those two get going," associate coach Rick Bowness said after a sparsely attended skate Thursday. "You get Hank back 100 percent with Danny. They are world-class elite players and they'll find a way to get it done."
Following an expectedly slow start for Daniel -- who hadn't played since a March 21 elbow to the head from Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith -- they did just that. The chemistry that comes from playing together all their lives was evident over the final 40 minutes of Game 4, with their back-and-forth spinning and cycling opening up holes in a Kings defense that previously seemed impenetrable.
As good as they've always been together, Daniel actually suggested they were better in Game 4 because of the recent time apart.
"We play together every day, every practice, every shift," Daniel said after being one of just three regulars to skate Thursday. "I don't want to say it gets boring, but you tend to use each other more than you should. When I was out two years ago [for 18 games with a broken foot] he's been working on his game. He's strong on the puck and beating guys one on one. It has shown too this year that he can be very effective."
Daniel insisted he is not the difference for the Canucks -- that any turnaround started in a 1-0 loss in Game 3 without him. He pointed out the Kings are "still in control" after winning the three games he watched. But Vancouver – and its chances, however slim, of clawing back into their series – sure looks better with him.
In addition to Henrik, Daniel's return also breathed new life on a power play that was 0-for-14 and gave up two shorthanded goals to the Kings while he was out. With Daniel, the Canucks scored twice on just three chances and looked far more dynamic and dangerous throughout Wednesday's victory in Los Angeles than at any other point in the series.
Neither Sedin had a point on the first power-play goal, which tied the game, but both were on the ice for it and contributed to the puck movement that preceded it.
"With Danny's presence you saw a lot more movement, a lot more blind passes no one else in the rink can see coming other than those two," Bowness said. "It gives us a little more faith. … We needed something to give us a boost, to get us back into the game and to get our confidence back. Down 3-0, coming off a bad first period, something had to give us a jumpstart. The top power play did that for us."
Daniel's return also allowed others to resume more comfortable roles, with Ryan Kesler back in front of the net and screening Jonathan Quick on that first power play goal by Alexander Edler. And it provided a trickle-down effect throughout the forward lines.
"It's important," Bowness said. "Their top-nine forwards are healthy, they are all in their proper roles, and they are coming at us. So all their players have been in their roles from the get go and now with Danny back we are able to put our players back where we want them and it gives [head coach Alain Vigneault] more adjustments he can make."
Maybe more than anything, Daniel's return – he said he was fine after skating and would have rejoined the team in Game 4 even if they hadn't faced elimination – makes it easier to believe the Canucks can become the fourth team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit. His effect on an offense that was being choked by Quick and the Kings' stifling block-out defense was evident during the final two periods. Despite continuing to preach a one-period, one-game-at-a-time philosophy, Bowness insisted that boost from Daniel's return doesn't end at just one game for the Canucks.
"He's an elite athlete, a world-class player and when the game is on the line those guys always seem to be able to raise their games to another level," Bowness said. "When they are in your lineup and playing like they played, if you're down a goal, down two goals, you know you are still in the game because you know they are capable of stepping up and making big plays and scoring huge goals that get us momentum. That impact is there every night they play, just because of their special abilities."
With no margin for error left, the Canucks need that impact in the next three games against the Kings -- otherwise they'll have all summer to wonder what might have been had they not been without it the first three.