SANTA MONICA, CALIF. - As the Vancouver Canucks relaxed in the lobby of their ocean-view hotel, contemplating how to avoid being on the wrong side of history, word filtered out that injured sniper Daniel Sedin was on his way to rejoin the team.
He has been out with a concussion since Mar. 21. Whether he will play against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 remains to be seen. But Daniel Sedin has been cleared to practice with his teammates once again after a setback he suffered last week.
A determination on his availability to suit up for action will be made sometime before puck drop at the Staples Center on Wednesday.
"That won't be my decision," Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said. "That's a medical decision. He's been skating now for quite a few days. They feel he's progressed real well.
"Obviously in the situation that we're faced with, for him to be back in our lineup would be a big boost. But we don't know so we'll see how it goes in the next little while here."
"It will be great to have him around," Canucks goalie Cory Schneider added. "We miss his offence. But we don't know if he's just skating or he will be playing. We're preparing as if he isn't playing."
With or without Daniel Sedin, if the Canucks don't start scoring they will become the first No. 1 seed team to be swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs since the NHL began using the current playoff format in 1993 and the fourth No. 1 seed to be upset by No. 8 since the 2004-05 lockout.
The Canucks offensive woes, however, started long before Daniel Sedin was hit with an elbow from Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith a month ago. Since the trade deadline, the Canucks have averaged only 2.1 goals a game, 23rd in the league in this stretch.
Meanwhile, the playoffs have been one big offensive struggle for the back-to-back Presidents Trophy winners dating back to last year's final. They now have scored just 12 times in their last 10 playoff games and this lack of offence has been the main reason the Canucks have won only once in their last eight playoff games.
The stingy ways of goalie Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins had something to do with the lack of scoring prowess in the final. Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who added a playoff shutout on Sunday to go with his league-leading 10 in the regular-season, and his teammates have played their part in this series.
The Canucks have peppered Quick with 89 shots in the past two games. But the Kings have done a wonderful job keeping most of those shots on the perimeter and they have not yielded many rebounds to Vancouver.
It hasn't helped the Canucks situation that Ryan Kesler has not picked up the slack in Henrik Sedin's absence. He scored 41 goals a season ago, but has only two assists to show for his efforts so far in the series against the Kings.
The Canucks also haven't been able to find a productive replacement for Daniel Sedin on the line alongside his twin Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows. It's almost like the Canucks thought all along that Daniel would be back in time for the playoffs.
They gave Zack Kassian, Andrew Ebbett, Jannik Hansen and Max Lapierre all a try on the left side. Lapierre had some success with goals in three straight games in the late season. But after playing in the series opener against the Kings, he was replaced by Hansen.
Hansen scored in Game 2 and hit a post in the last outing on Sunday. But four goals in three games haven't been enough for Vancouver. An 0-for-14 slump on the power play also has not aided the cause.
So with or without Daniel Sedin on Wednesday, the Canucks need to start scoring or they will become history in more ways than one.
Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter was asked if watched a replay of the crunching hit Kings captain Dustin Brown put on Canucks captain Henrik Sedin on Sunday.
"I saw it live and in Technicolor," Sutter said. "It looked good in both."
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