With Daniel Sedin out, Canucks need to step it up

Vancouver Canucks Jannik Hansen, right, is congratulated by teammates Alex Burrows, centre, and...

Vancouver Canucks Jannik Hansen, right, is congratulated by teammates Alex Burrows, centre, and Henrik Sedin after scoring on Los Angeles Kings during Game 2 of their NHL Western Conference quarter-final hockey playoff in Vancouver, British Columbia April 13, 2012. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:28 PM ET

VANCOUVER — In Game 1, it was the second-line centre with the ability to lead the charge, Mike Richards, who made the offensive difference for the Los Angeles Kings.

Kings captain Dustin Brown led the way in Game 2.

The Vancouver Canucks not only must find a way to answer the Kings when their series resumes Sunday in Los Angeles, but their mirror-image players must lead the charge.

Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler showed he has the ability to change the momentum of a series seemingly by himself during last year’s playoff run against the Nashville Predators.

The Canucks also have a captain in Henrik Sedin who is more than capable of lighting up the scoreboard like a pinball machine, and he knows he must become a difference maker in a hurry with his team down 2-0 in the best-of-seven opening-round playoff series.

“That’s what you need in the playoffs. You need a couple guys to step up and make the plays,” Sedin said after Saturday’s practice in Vancouver.

“Right now it’s about execution on the powerplay. I am the guy that wants the puck on my stick, and when I get it, I have to make plays.

“I have to make a better play when I have the chance. It’s not about having Daniel there or not having Daniel there. It’s about making the play.”

Speaking of Daniel Sedin, the news continues to appear bleak about his return from a concussion for this series.

Daniel Sedin, who led the Canucks this season with 30 goals, didn’t make the trip to Los Angeles. Since he’s not practising with the team, it’s starting to appear he won’t play in this series. In fact, a Twitter report from a former team employee said Daniel Sedin won’t play in this series.

“There are no timelines with these injuries,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “I can’t tell you any more than he’s not skating with the team and he’s not coming to L.A.”

Therefore, a need for someone to play the part of a white knight and Henrik Sedin and Kesler are the most likely candidates.

However, defenceman Kevin Bieksa said that’s a lot to put on a couple of specific players in a team game.

“We look at our team and we finished first in the league for a reason,” Bieksa said. “We have a good team. We don’t need anybody to go out and try to be Superman. We need guys to go out, do their job, take care of their business. We feel we’re good enough to beat them if we do that.”

One thing in Vancouver’s favour is the experience gained from playoff runs over the past couple of years.

The other is a heightened sense of urgency.

“I wouldn’t say it’s the ideal situation and I’m not going to give you a rundown of all the teams that have come back in the past and da de da de da,” Vigneault said. “I’m giving you the reality. The reality is we’re down two and we’ve got to win (Sunday).

“That’s it. All the other stuff doesn’t matter.”

For those looking to the positive, the Boston Bruins were in the exact same situation last season in their opening-round series with Montreal.

“We’re not going to do everything the same way as last year, cruise to the Stanley Cup final,” 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 a couple and see what happens.”

Added Henrik Sedin: “If we would have been in a hole like this a couple years back, I wouldn’t have been as hopeful as I am right now. We’re playing well enough to win games.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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