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HELENE ELLIOTT / ON THE NHL

Daniel Sedin's return to Canucks complicates challenge for Kings

Kings prepare their defense for the difficulties Canucks forward Daniel Sedin will present in Game 5 of their playoff series Sunday in Vancouver.

April 20, 2012|Helene Elliott
  • Canucks winger and leading goal scorer Daniel Sedin is ready in the slot during a game earlier this season.
Canucks winger and leading goal scorer Daniel Sedin is ready in the slot… (Jim Mone / Associated Press )

Daniel Sedin's return to the Vancouver Canucks had a doubly detrimental effect for the Kings, denying them a first-round playoff sweep and creating a new threat they must defuse when the series resumes Sunday in Vancouver.

The gifted winger's first appearance since suffering a concussion on March 21 boosted the Canucks' spirits and talent level. He especially raised the game of his linemate and twin, Henrik, as they combined to score with a man advantage and seal Vancouver's 3-1 victory Wednesday at Staples Center.

"When they get back together we all know that something different happens. They know where each other is and then they feel each other out," Kings center Jarret Stoll said after the team practiced Friday in El Segundo.

"We've got to be better against them, that's the bottom line. We weren't good enough the other night against those guys and against their power play and that's why we lost."

It's easy to say stopping the Sedins is imperative for the Kings to avoid having to play a sixth game Tuesday at Staples Center. Doing it is far more difficult.

Henrik, a center, has led the NHL in assists for three straight seasons and won the scoring title in 2009-10. Daniel, an inch shorter than Henrik at 6-foot-1, succeeded Henrik as the scoring champion in 2010-11.

"The last game we gave them too much room. They had room to make those plays that they're capable of making, and going into our next game one of our main goals is playing them hard," said defenseman Drew Doughty, who was often matched up against the Sedins on Wednesday.

"If you're playing them hard, finishing every check on them, not allowing them to get their space, I think they're going to get frustrated and we can kind of push them out of the game. So it's one thing we're definitely focusing on, getting in their top players' faces and shutting them down."

Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell spent four seasons with the Canucks and described the Sedins as "good teammates and great players. World-class players." Mitchell even invoked the name of Wayne Gretzky in discussing how tricky it is to defend against players with such skill, vision and smarts.

"Not everyone understands how you have to play them," Mitchell said. "You've got to play them hard to deny them the puck, but once they have the puck you can't be aggressive because they are the best line in the NHL at creating two-on-ones.

"And to give them the ultimate compliment, they do what Gretzky did. You play aggressive against them, go towards them, you open up ice around them and that's where the puck goes. So deny them the puck so they don't get it, but then you need to sit once they get it and not run around too much. That's something we'll look to do, find that happy medium next game."

Slap shots

Winger Kyle Clifford didn't skate Friday. However, Coach Darryl Sutter said Clifford had not experienced a setback in recovering from the concussion he suffered in Game 1. "It becomes day to day and that's protocol," Sutter said. Asked whether he had suffered a concussion as a player Sutter replied, "I don't remember." … Winger Scott Parse, who underwent hip surgery in December, skated with the extra forwards. He's not close to playing but considered it a significant step. "Nice to feel like a player," he said.

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen

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