NHL Playoff Schedule 2012: Injured Stars Who Will Make-or-Break Matchups

Wes ODonnell@wesodonnellFeatured ColumnistApril 10, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Daniel Sedin #22 of the Vancouver Canucks during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on February 28, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Canucks 2-1 in an overtime shootout.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers won't get Chris Pronger back for the playoffs. It is unfortunate that their captain and top blueliner will be absent, but they have had some time to prepare for life without him and will continue on.

He would have been a huge boost to their cause this season, though, and his loss is one of the most detrimental in the league.

There are other injured superstars of his caliber injured right now as well, and a few of them are coming back. How they fare on the ice will ultimately decide their respective teams' playoff fates.

Daniel Sedin, Canucks (vs. Kings)

A return to the Stanley Cup Finals rides squarely on how Daniel handles his return to the ice from a concussion last month.

VANCOUVER, CANADA - JANUARY 31: Daniel Sedin #22 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates with Sami Salo #6 after scoring a goal to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime during NHL action on January 31, 2012 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columb
Rich Lam/Getty Images

It cannot be predicted and there is no cure. We don't know how Sedin will handle his first hit, but we do know that the Canucks need him in goal scoring mode if they are going to win games.

To make matters worse, they open the postseason against Johnnie Quick and the Los Angeles Kings. Quick has been sensational this season, and if Vancouver doesn't have their star left winger it could doom them.

No goalkeeper has recorded more shutouts this season than Quick, and he's allowing the least amount of goals per game of any every day starting goalie.

We know he'll return, but how he handles that return is still up in the air.

Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks (vs. Coyotes)

Like Sedin, we know Toews will be back, but we don't know how effective he will be.

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 16: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates his penalty shot goal against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on February 16, 2012 in New York City. The Blackhawks defeated the Rangers 4-1.  (Photo by Bruc
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Blackhawks have a huge advantage playing at home in the postseason, but they start on the road against a Coyotes team that could make quick work of them.

He's the only chance this team has at making a run for the Cup, and they know this as well as me and you.

Sidney Crosby, Penguins (vs. Flyers)

UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 29:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins waits for the referee to drop the box on a faceoff against Marty Reasoner #16 of the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on March 29, 2012 in Uniondale, New York.
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

And the ultimate injury-ridden star, Sid the Kid will need to rise up and make his presence felt in the postseason if the Penguins are going to earn a series win over the Flyers in the opening round.

Like Sedin and Toews, we know he is coming back but he's proven time and time again that we don't know how he'll handle a return to the ice.

In playoff time there is no mercy.

Crosby is going to have to be careful, but he is going to have to be on his game if the Penguins are going to compete at full strength.