Daniel Sedin took one step closer to rejoining the Vancouver Canucks lineup this afternoon, when his Vancouver Canucks took to the ice at the Toyota Sports Centre, the Los Angeles Kings' practice facility.
Sedin spent most of the first half-hour of the practice doing line rushes with his brother Henrik and David Booth on the right side, while Alex Burrows was back playing with Ryan Kesler, a duo that has been an effective, if on-again, off-again pair, for years now.
Present were the rest of Sedin's teammates, plus a small army of reporters, many with cameras in tow, trying to figure out if he really, truly would be in the lineup for Wednesday night's pivotal fourth game of the Western Conference quarter-final, a series that Los Angeles leads 3-0.
After practice, Daniel Sedin confirmed that he would wait until game time before making a decision about playing, but said he hadn't had a setback in a while and seemed cautiously optimistic. More than anything, Sedin said the issue would be game conditioning, something that he's lacking after an extended time on the sidelines.
"I would never play unless I'm 100 per cent," said Sedin. "That's been made clear to me, and that's been my goal all along. If I don't feel right tomorrow, I'm not going to play. I don't want to go through this again."
But the good news, according to Sedin, is: "It's been a while since I've had those bad headaches. It feels really good right now."
Sedin said he could live with the drop-off in his conditioning, and noted that even if he could only help on the power play, he'd be prepared to play a more limited role.
Sedin said he couldn't bring himself to do more than monitor the games on television.
"It's nerve wracking," he said. "To not be out there and help the team … My wife wanted to watch it, but I told her to turn it off. But she updated me and I watched a little do. It wasn't that bad. Just nerves."
Sedin said his children wanted to play tag during his extended convalescence.
"I told them I got a little bit of a headache," he explained. "They said, 'well your legs are fine, so let's play tag."
So did he?
"No, I laid low. It's been up-and-down. Some moments, I've been feeling pretty good. Some moments, I've been very sick. So that's been tough."
"When it happened, I thought, 'OK, it's a week and then I'm back.' Then a week and a half went by and I was still wasn't feeling good. Then two weeks. You wake up everyday expecting to feel good and it's still there. So that's the tough part."
"First, you worry about the hockey. Then you worry about getting rid of the headache. I think once I got to that point – just to make sure I'm per cent healthy in every day life, I think that mentally that was big for me. That was really good for me. I talked to [the Washington Capitals' Nicklas] Backstrom. He had a bad concussion himself for awhile. I talked to him. So yeah, it's good."
According to Vigneault, "we'll see how he feels tomorrow, but obviously, he's been skating for some time. He's down here in L.A. because he feels he was ready to skate with the team. We'll see how he feels tomorrow, see how he feels after practice and then we'll talk and then we'll make the best decision before the game.
"Danny had an MVP nomination last year. He was our most solid player this year. Unfortunately, he got hurt. Like any other player who gets hurt, he's trying to come back and help your team out – and that's what he's trying to do. Obviously, if he can play tomorrow, he'll be a big help for us."
Apart from consulting with Backstrom, Sedin said that he'd received a great deal of advice from a number of his teammates including David Booth and Keith Ballard, both of whom had to deal with severe concussions in his past. Booth is new the Sedin line and if that's the way coach Alain Vigneault goes, Daniel thought it might be an effective line.
"It would be fun to see," said Sedin. "He's got a lot of speed. It's good for me and Henrik to have him go in on the forecheck and use his speed. Like I said, we'll see what happens tomorrow.
"It's tough being down 3-0 for sure, but we'll take our chances. We're going to go out and have fun and play our game. Either one of these games could have gone the other way too. We know if we can get a few bounces, we'll have a chance to win."
Sedin, the Canucks' leading goal-scorer, hasn't played since being concussed by Chicago Blackhawks' defenceman Duncan Keith in the final weeks of the regular season.
A week ago, Sedin was similarly engaged in a Canucks' practice prior to the start of the playoffs and it looked for a time as if all systems were go. But then something happened – a setback of some description - and Sedin hadn't been involved in a full practice since.
Sedin's goal-scoring skills have been badly missed in a series, where Vancouver has managed to score just four goals in the first three games, or the same number produced by Kings' captain Dustin Brown by himself.
Also: The Canucks have failed to score on 14 power-play attempts in the series. Daniel Sedin has led Vancouver in power-play scoring in each of the past two years.
"When they (the twins) play together, they're pretty special, so the dynamic of their team changes significantly when you have both of them in the lineup," said Brown, following the Kings' Tuesday morning practice session. "For whatever reason, they have that knack to make plays that not many other players can make together. That's something they've been known for and it's pretty special, so we have to be cognizant of that if he's able to play.
"In saying that, our game plan can't change. We have to still go after it and go after what we're trying to do. One player can make a difference, but it's important for us to stick to our game plan regardless."