|ESPN.com: NHL Playoffs 2012||[Print without images]|
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- There has always been a freakish telepathy between the Vancouver Canucks' Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin.
Maybe it's the twins thing. More likely it's the fact that the Swedish brothers have played hockey together all their lives. One instinctively knows where the other is going to be. Where to send the pass, when to look for the puck. The result is the Sedins won back-to-back NHL scoring titles. Henrik is usually the setup man while Daniel pulls the trigger on his brother's seeing-eye passes.
The effect of Daniel Sedin being sidelined with a concussion was evident in the second period of Vancouver's loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night. Henrik Sedin had the puck behind the Kings' net. He stickhandled to his left, was cut off, then took the puck to his right only to find no one open. He was forced to double back again before finally losing control.
You have to believe that if Daniel had been there, Henrik would have fed him a pass.
"It's a good question but a tough answer," Henrik Sedin said with a smile after the Canucks held a brisk practice Saturday before heading to L.A. for a crucial Game 3 in the Western Conference quarterfinals. "I know where he's going to be. We are missing a good player, the same as other teams are missing a good player.
"It's not about me having Daniel there or not having Daniel there. It's about me making the play that is open."
It would be wrong to say Daniel Sedin's being hurt is the major reason the Canucks, who had the best regular-season record in the NHL, are trailing the eighth-seeded Kings 2-0 in their best-of-seven series. It's just one of many reasons.
Vancouver's power play has been atrocious. It was 0-for-10 in the first two games and allowed Dustin Brown to score two short-handed goals in Friday's 4-2 loss.
The Kings have played a smarter, more aggressive game. They've knocked the Canucks off the puck, forced turnovers and created havoc in the Vancouver zone. Despite the Canucks' managing 48 shots on the Kings' net Friday, goaltender Jonathan Quick was forced to make only a few difficult saves.
The Canucks cling to the belief they are matching the Kings 5-on-5. Inside the Vancouver dressing room, the feeling is, fix the power play and all will be right with the Canucks' world.
"The power play is where we have to step up and make the plays," Henrik Sedin said.
During practice Chris Higgins was moved onto the first-unit power play along with Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Alexander Edler and Dan Hamhuis. It should be noted that Higgins had one power-play goal all season.
Henrik would say only "no comment" to speculation that Daniel, the Canucks' leading goal scorer this season, won't return for the first round of the playoffs.
Coach Alain Vigneault indicated Daniel Sedin won't play Sunday or in Wednesday's Game 4. "He's not coming to L.A.," Vigneault said.
Don't be surprised if Vigneault starts goaltender Cory Schneider in Game 3, simply to shake up the lineup and give the Kings a different look.
Never in its history has Vancouver been down 2-0 when starting a playoff series at home. The last time Vancouver trailed a series 2-0 was 2001, when it was swept by Colorado in the opening round of the playoffs.
The closest thing to adversity the Canucks faced during last year's march to the Stanley Cup finals was when they took a 3-0 lead against the Chicago Blackhawks but still needed a goal in overtime of Game 7 to advance to the second round.
"We are not going to do everything the same way as last year, cruise to the Stanley Cup final," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "We are going to make it interesting.
"Last year we were up three against Chicago and then we let them come back. This year we will spot them [the Kings] a couple and see what happens."
Los Angeles can't take anything for granted. Of their eight goals, the Kings have scored three on the power play and once into an empty net. Brown's two short-handed goals were largely due to Canucks brain cramps.
The Kings must score more even-strength goals and can't give up 23 shots in the third period like they did Friday.
"Nothing is decided yet," center Anze Kopitar said. "We have to take care of business at home. There is still some work left to be done."
This is the second time in franchise history the Kings have led a series 2-0. The last time was in 1968, when Minnesota rallied to win the series in seven games.
The Canucks want to avoid becoming the sixth Presidents' Trophy winner to be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. The last time it happened was 2010, when the Washington Capitals were upset by the Montreal Canadiens.
The Canucks have too much talent to drop to 3-0 in the series. Then again, who thought they'd lose the first two games at Rogers Arena?
"I wouldn't say it's the ideal situation," Vigneault said. "The reality is we are down by two and we have to win. That's it. All the other stuff doesn't matter."