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This article was published 16/4/2012 (3516 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
LOS ANGELES -- It could well turn out to be their final practice of the season, but the Vancouver Canucks are hoping it instead becomes their most significant.
Tuesday afternoon at a practice facility in El Segundo, Calif., not far from Los Angeles International Airport, injured winger Daniel Sedin is expected to skate with the Canucks.
Against all odds, the Canucks hope Sedin, cleared for takeoff, may be able to help them avoid what is looking like an ugly playoff crash landing.
The team announced Monday afternoon Sedin was flying to Southern California and would practise today. Presumably, if all goes well he will play on Wednesday night when Vancouver, down 3-0 in its best-of-seven first-round playoff series with the Los Angeles Kings, tries to stave off elimination at the Staples Center.
For a suddenly goal-starved team, this is good news.
"Well, he is our top scorer," coach Alain Vigneault said when asked how meaningful it would be to have Sedin back for Game 4. "Is that a good answer?"
Vigneault said Sedin, who led Vancouver with 30 goals this season, has been making good progress skating on his own the past few days. The coach also said Sedin won't play unless he is ready.
"That is a decision that he and the doctors will make together," Vigneault said. "He has been skating now for quite a few days, they feel he has progressed really well and he is cleared to practise with the team. Exactly what that means we'll have a better indication of the next couple of days."
Daniel has been out of the lineup since March 21, when he suffered a concussion after being elbowed in the face by Chicago defenceman Duncan Keith. Daniel practised with the Canucks last Monday, but suffered an apparent setback of sorts.
Although they survived the end of the regular season without him, winning eight of their final nine games, the Canucks have struggled offensively in the first three games of their series with the Kings.
Vancouver has scored a total of four goals in the series, the same number tallied by Kings captain Dustin Brown.
"It's a results-driven business and we are not scoring," Vigneault said outside the five-star Santa Monica hotel where the team enjoyed the day off Monday. "Our goaltenders, both of them, have given us in all three games a chance to win, but you need to score goals and we are not doing it."
Word that Sedin would be back at practice was welcomed by the three Canucks players made available to the media Monday.
"We feel we are a good enough team that we can overcome the loss of any individual, but in a series where goals are hard to come by, getting a 30-goal guy and last year's Art Ross winner definitely couldn't hurt," said goalie Cory Schneider.
"I think we're still feeling good in that we're not relying on a saviour to come in and help us, but again, to get a player of that calibre back would be a big boost for us."
The fact is, however, that Sedin's return likely wouldn't mean much unless some of Vancouver's other top players become more productive.
Second-line wingers David Booth and Chris Higgins have been nearly invisible in the series and defenceman Alex Edler's game is a mess.
Vigneault acknowledged Edler is struggling with the pressure of the playoffs and is being encouraged to have some fun while playing.
"That way you calm the nerves a little bit," he said.
As for Higgins and Booth, Vigneault said: "They are like the rest of our group. They are trying to do the right things, they are trying to go to the net, they are trying to get pucks on net, get to rebounds. You have to give LA a lot of credit. They have done a really good job. When there have been mistakes in our end they made us pay. When we forced them to make mistakes, we haven't been able to make them pay."
-- Postmedia News