Vancouver Canucks star Henrik Sedin says his teammate and twin brother Daniel is improving as he attempts to recover from a concussion.
“He's getting better and better, so we're hopeful,” said Henrik after practice Monday.
Daniel Sedin was injured March 21 when he took an elbow in the head from Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith. The NHL suspended Keith five games for the infraction.
The Canucks have won all six games that Daniel Sedin has been out while getting offensive contributions from unlikely scorers, including his replacement on the top line — Max Lapierre, who has four points in two games.
Henrik said his sibling is making progress every day while keeping a positive attitude.
“He was down for the first few days,” said Henrik. “He's always a happy guy, a positive guy. But when you talked to him, you could tell that something was wrong. But in the past couple days, he's getting better ... So we'll see what happens in the next couple days.”
Daniel sits second in team scoring with 30 goals and 37 assists in 72 games played. The Canucks have said little on his condition since he was sidelined, though Henrik indicated Daniel has been working out.
“This is the part where he's a little anxious (to see) if things are going the right way and when he's exercising if it's going to be positive or headaches are going to come back,” said Henrik.
The Canucks, who lead the Western Conference and are tied for first place overall with the New York Rangers, have three games remaining before the playoffs. Vancouver hosts the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.
Henrik was non-committal on whether Daniel could return in time for the playoffs, but expressed optimism for a post-season return.
“We've got a week or a week and a half before the playoffs start. So there's still time.”
Meanwhile, Canucks defenceman Keith Ballard took part in his first full practice since being sidelined with a concussion in early February. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said Saturday he hopes to get Ballard into games later this week against Calgary and Edmonton.
Ballard, who expected to be back much sooner, does not want to risk returning too early.
“I thought I'd go on the trip to Detroit five weeks ago, and here I am now just getting back to practice,” he said. “I don't know. I think it would be helpful going into playoffs having played at least one game since the beginning of February. But if I'm not ready, I'm not ready.”
Note: Kevin Bieksa, who has missed the past three games with an undisclosed health issue, skated before practice with injured teammates Aaron Rome (knee) and Aaron Volpatti (shoulder). Vigneault said Bieksa will participate in Tuesday's morning skate with the team, but probably will not play against the Ducks.