NHL Playoffs 2012: Grading Daniel Sedin's Return for the Vancouver Canucks

Carol SchramFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2012

VANCOUVER, CANADA - MARCH 17: Daniel Sedin #22 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates with Henrik Sedin #33 after scoring against goalie Steve Mason #1 of the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period in NHL action on March 17, 2012 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Nikita Nikitin #6 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates past in the background.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

Daniel Sedin returned to the Vancouver Canucks' lineup on Wednesday, exactly four weeks after getting rocked for a concussion by Duncan Keith.

There were lots of questions about whether or not he was really ready, or if this was a desperation move by a Presidents' Trophy winner finding themselves down 0-3 in their first-round playoff series.

After Game 4, so far so good. There's no doubt that Daniel provided a spark that helped the Canucks stay alive in their Western Conference Quarter Final against the Los Angeles Kings, with a 3-1 victory.

Daniel said he'd take it slow and see how he felt. After the game, he said the first period was a bit tentative for him, but he found his legs as the game went on.

In the first, the Canucks looked disorganized. The Kings outshot them 13-7 and took a 1-0 lead. Vancouver came out stronger in the second, and when they got their first power-play chance on a weak Colin Fraser tripping penalty, it took just 34 seconds for Alex Edler to light the lamp—the Canucks' first power-play goal of the entire series.

Daniel Sedin didn't register a point, but he was on the ice. And just like that, the Canucks could score again. Their three goals in Game 4 nearly doubled their total offensive output for the series—they had just four going into Wednesday's match.

Was Daniel on the ice for all three goals on Wednesday? Yep.

The 2-1 goal turned out to be the winner, and it was a lucky one, as Kevin Bieksa's point shot deflected off Mike Richards' stick. As the puck stymied Jonathan Quick, Daniel Sedin was parked right in front of him, providing a distraction and hoping for a deflection of his own.

In the third period, Daniel finally grabbed his first point of the series, helping to set up brother Henrik's power-play insurance marker—just 22 seconds after Cory Schneider saved the game by stopping Dustin Brown on a short-handed penalty shot.

Instead of a 2-2 tie, the twins helped make it 3-1, then steered the ship safely home for the rest of the game.

In total, Daniel logged 19:33 minutes of ice time in his first game back, just nine seconds less than the Canucks' leader among forwards—his brother. He was a force offensively and didn't shy away from the physical aspects of the game.

In total, he had three shots on goal, another four efforts that were blocked, and another four that missed the net. His stat-line shows one assist and a plus-1 and also one hit.

Thanks to Coldplay taking over Rogers Arena in Vancouver for two nights this weekend, the Canucks and Kings will have to wait until Sunday to square off for Game 5. The Canucks are probably eager to capitalize on the momentum from their win, but the extra time should serve Daniel well in terms of his fitness and conditioning.

As we all know, concussions are unpredictable. Canucks fans are certainly hoping that Daniel's recovery is complete and that he'll be able to play at the same level on Sunday.

They say that in the playoffs, your best players have to be your best players. The Canucks are certainly grateful to have their Hart Trophy finalist and reigning Ted Lindsay Award winner back to work his magic.

Grading Daniel's performance from Game 4: A