“I’m going to get you.”
That’s what Chicago Blackhawk Duncan Keith apparently told Daniel Sedin before elbowing him in the head, a hit that has sidelined the high-scoring Sedin for who knows how long.
While Keith has not admitted or denied if the hit was deliberate, he had a reason and a right to be angry. Just a few minutes before, Daniel made a questionable hit on Keith in the corner, getting his shoulder up and making contact with Keith’s head. Daniel is lucky to have escaped a fine or brief suspension; however it is Keith’s hit on Daniel that is more problematic for the Canucks.
With 6:24 left in the first period on March 21, Keith hit Daniel with an elbow to the head at center ice. Daniel played one more shift on the Canucks’ powerplay before heading for the locker room. He flew back to Vancouver on Thursday to see specialists and has since experienced headaches.
Daniel has no previous concussion issues and few within the Canucks’ franchise are confirming whether or not Daniel has a concussion, just that he is going through more analysis with experts and that their main objective is to get him back on the ice.
No one knew when or if Sidney Crosby would return and nobody knows when Daniel will return. Like Crosby, Daniel is a major asset to the Canucks, and they will need him in the playoffs. He leads the Canucks in scoring with 30 goals and has been one of the Canucks’ most valuable players this season.
But like when Daniel was injured in 2009, and his twin brother Henrik Sedin had to step up and produce goals, this occurrence will force the rest of the team to be effective each and every game before the playoffs.
“We’re not to replace Daniel Sedin with anybody in the league obviously,” Kevin Bieksa told CBC. “That’s what you need when your best players go down, you need guys to step up, fill that void. But obviously, we’re a better team with Daniel in the lineup.”
Now with a large void to fill, other forwards on the Canucks have a chance to show their worth and a chance to play more than they normally would. Alain Vigneault has shuffled the lines and could keep doing this to find successful combinations that he can use during the playoffs.
Against both Dallas and Colorado, the Canucks’ first line consisted of Henrik, Mason Raymond and Zack Kassian – a surprising yet effective combination. Against Dallas this line was plus-2, with Henrik notching two assists and Raymond scoring a goal. Against Colorado, Raymond scored another goal and Henrik got his 60th assist of the season.
Henrik is playing with younger faster players who need to give 100% each game to prove their worth and place on the team. Now Raymond and Kassian – and perhaps other players, if Vigneault continues to shuffle the lines – have a chance to play with an elite passer, who is known for setting up plays. Henrik’s number of assists almost always overshadows his number of goals. Maybe all Raymond and Kassian need to get going is someone to pass the puck to them. They have proven that they have the shooting and scoring ability, and hopefully their turn playing with Henrik will provide them with more chances to get the puck and a little bit of encouragement to spark a fire within them.
The hit to Daniel probably will not help the Sedin’s tarnished “Sedin Sisters” image, and the five game suspension to Keith, which gives the Blackhawks’ star some rest before playoffs, is constantly being debated. But the Canucks cannot afford to dwell on this issue as the team has struggled to score and to win and the playoffs keep creeping closer and closer.
“You know what, I don’t really have a reaction to it,” Vigneault told The Vancouver Sun on Saturday about Keith’s suspension. “There’s nothing that we can do about it. Whether I give it my seal of approval or not doesn’t really matter. What we have to focus on is tonight’s game.”