Vancouver left wing Daniel Sedin, right, celebrates with teammate Sami… (Paul Sancya / Associated…)
Can history be halted or at least slowed by the reappearance of a former Art Ross Trophy winner?
The Kings are trying to sweep a best-of-seven playoff series for the first time in franchise history, and trying to do so against Vancouver, the NHL's best team in the regular season.
And so, the potential spoiler/savior — depending upon your allegiance — wore a Canucks uniform at practice Tuesday, not a cape. Furthermore, forward Daniel Sedin — the Art Ross Trophy winner as the NHL's leading scorer last season — looked stripped of some of his abilities, admitting he felt about as slow as he has been in five years.
That was to be fully expected after not practicing with his teammates for more than a week and not being able to do much before that for nearly a month. The concussed Sedin has not played since March 21 after taking an elbow in the head from Chicago's Duncan Keith. He said his availability for Game 4 on Wednesday night against the Kings at Staples Center probably will be a game-time decision.
"I would never play if I'm not 100%," Sedin said. "That's been made clear to me. That's been my goal all along. If I don't feel right tomorrow, I'm not going to play. That's the bottom line. I don't want to go through this again."
The Kings, who have not won a playoff series since 2001, are fully expecting to face Sedin, who flew to Los Angeles from Vancouver to join his teammates. Even in limited time, for instance on the power play, he could provide a major boost to the struggling Canucks. They are 0 for 14 on the power play and have scored four goals in three games.
"If he's made the trip down and on the ice with the team, we have to assume he's going to play," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "It's not going to change anything we're going to do as a team. But certainly you have to prepare as if he's going to be there. He's a big part of their team. And we have to be ready in case he does play."
Scuderi talked about the challenge of playing the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel. The Sedins were on a line with David Booth at practice Tuesday, a different look for the Canucks.
"They're tricky to play against," Scuderi said. "There's no doubt about it. They put the puck to space so well with each other, you have to respect it. Like I said, you don't want to change anything that we're doing, but it doesn't change the fact that they are hard to play against as a duo."
The Canucks have as many goals in the series as Kings captain Dustin Brown. He scored two short-handed goals in Game 2 and the only goal in Game 3 Sunday. On top of that, he delivered a game-changing check, leveling Henrik Sedin in front of the Canucks' bench in Game 3.
Whether this has turned Brown into a marked man is debatable, considering the Canucks can't play foolishly one loss from elimination.
"If that is the case, that probably plays to our advantage if they are worrying about me," Brown said. "Because if they're worrying about me, then they're not necessarily worrying about winning.
"I think they're a team that understands the position they're in. Whether they get me or not, whatever sense of the word, they need to find a way to win more than anything. And I think they're a pretty veteran team and been through a lot. I think they understand if they're running after me, it's probably not going to help them."
Brad Richardson is back
The Kings were encouraged by the return of forward Brad Richardson, who had an emergency appendectomy on April 9. This was his first full practice since and Coach Darryl Sutter said Richardson has been cleared for all activity. Kyle Clifford, injured in Game 1, has not resumed skating.
Richardson skated with linemates Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan.
"For the first three or four days you feel [bad] because of the anesthesia and you're really sore," Richardson said. "As soon as you kind of get over that hump three or four days you feel really good. Today I felt the best and I'm hoping I feel even better tomorrow. I'm looking forward to the game."
Should Richardson return for Game 4, rookie Andrei Loktionov would probably be the odd man out. Loktionov is scoreless in the first three games of the series, averaging about four minutes of playing time.