VANCOUVER – Daniel Sedin skated on his own Friday morning, but the Vancouver Canucks continued to say little about the injured winger’s status.
“I have to say there’s nothing to report on Daniel,” said coach Alain Vigneault.
Sedin resumed skating after staying off the ice for two days. He went out in full gear in a separate group before the morning skate involving players expected to play in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarter-final series against the Los Angeles Kings.
Hopes were raised earlier in the week when Sedin, out with a concussion since March 21, practised with the team Monday for the first time since he was injured, and then skated with extra players in a group separate from the main practice.
After Monday’s skate Daniel’s twin brother Henrik Sedin said his sibling was ”100 per cent.” But his separation from the main group Tuesday and his absence Wednesday and Thursday raised questions on whether he had experienced a setback. The Canucks have denied he had one, but his father was quoted in Swedish media saying that he had experienced a headache.
Henrik Sedin refused to comment on his brother’s status Friday.
Daniel Sedin was sidelined after taking an elbow in the head from Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith, who was suspended for five games.
Vigneault has repeatedly said the Canucks are following the NHL’s concussion protocol for the treatment of head injuries. But Daniel Sedin’s on-again, off-again workouts have raised questions about whether the Canucks are practising it.
The coach admitted he is not familiar with all of the requirements of the protocol.
“You should ask a medical person,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever read the protocol itself.”
Meanwhile, defenceman Keith Ballard was expected to suit up for his first game since he was sidelined with a concussion in early February.
“It really is a process,” said Ballard about his recovery. “There were a lot of times where I’d try to work out and it wouldn’t go well at all. I’d have to, essentially, start over.”
Ballard missed the final 29 games of the regular season and Wednesday’s series opener. He was finally cleared for full contact within the last two weeks, but had to get his timing back and get used to being hounded as he chased pucks deep in the Vancouver end.
“I haven’t had issues with headaches, neck pain—nothing like that,” he said. “I’ve been a bit dizzy from guys skating by me.”
Ballard spent much of his recovery skating and working out off the ice on his own. Defenceman Kevin Bieksa praised him for his determination to get back in the lineup.
“He’s done a great job,” said Bieksa. “We don’t see everything he does, because often he’s in here earlier than us. But to stay ready and get yourself back into shape after a concussion takes a lot of hard work and sweat—and that’s all on him.
“He’s been in here doing the drills on the ice before practice, skating with us, (doing) workouts on his own.”
Ballard was paired in the morning with defenceman Sami Salo.
In another move, Canucks winger Andrew Ebbett was slated to replace suspended forward Byron Bitz on Vancouver’s fourth line.
The game, Ebbett’s first post-season contest as a Canuck, came after he battled to return to action following a fractured foot that sidelined him for 35 games.
“This is what I was building for, to make sure that I was back and ready for the playoffs,” said Ebbett, who played the final four games of the regular season before being scratched for Game 1.
Bitz was suspended two games for a second-period check from behind on Kyle Clifford. The Canuck shouldered Clifford face-first into the glass and received a five-minute charging penalty and game misconduct.
Clifford was unable to return to the ice after the hit and remained out Friday with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Andrei Loktionov was pencilled into his spot on the same line.
Kings centre Brad Richardson also remained out after undergoing an emergency appendectomy late in the regular season. Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter indicated Richardson is just getting on his feet again, based on his post-surgery schedule.
“He should be doing activity, depending on how he feels,” said Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter. “That’s pretty much where we’re at.”