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Vancouver Canucks center Henrik Sedin (33) celebrates his team's game winning overtime goal as Nashville Predators defenseman Shane O'Brien (55) skates past during Game 3 of the NHL Western Conference semifinal hockey playoff in Nashville, Tennesse May 3, 2011. REUTERS/ M.J Masotti Jr

M.J Masotti Jr/Reuters

Henrik Sedin gave short, cutesy answers punctuated with a goofy grin, and when the Vancouver Canucks captain does that, you know there's more to the story.

Sedin skipped practice for a second consecutive day Friday, and when asked why he had permission to miss the session, he said: "Coach likes me. Told you that before."

And why, Henrik, does Alain Vigneault like you so much?

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"I don't know," he said. "Ask Daniel."

Daniel Sedin seems fully healthy and has been practising in advance of the NHL's Western Conference final against the San Jose Sharks. But there is little doubt that his twin brother is dealing with pain and discomfort, if not a full-blown injury, that he and the team are doing to their best to conceal.

Henrik Sedin's production has lagged this postseason, just nine points in 13 games, and a butterfly could knock him off the puck these days. He has been quick to lose his footing, and even his magical hands have failed him.

The Canucks captain said he would skate Saturday after four days off the ice, but he's not the only Vancouver forward who is ailing, and the team's vaunted scoring depth could well be in peril this series, especially when matched against San Jose's firepower.

Vigneault said that winger Mikael Samuelsson is unlikely to play when the best-of-seven series begins Sunday at Rogers Arena. Samuelsson went down in a heap during a Game 5 loss to the Nashville Predators last week, seemingly succumbing to a lower-body ailment that was demonstrably bothering him during the late stages of the regular season and into the playoffs.

Samuelsson is one of three Canucks with conference finals experience, and he was manning the point on the power play. He will likely be replaced by Jeff Tambellini or Victor Oreskovich, depending on whether Vigneault wants speed or thump in a matchup against the Sharks.

But it goes deeper.

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Chris Higgins blocked a shot in Game 5 and has a sore foot. He played in a series-clinching Game 6, but he was so key early in the Nashville series, that it was easy to wonder where the Canucks would be without his strong play in all three zones.

Higgins said he would skate Saturday, and like Sedin, would play Sunday in Game 1. "I'll be fine. I've played with it already for one game, so I'm just enjoying the rest," he said.

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About the Author
B.C. sports correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Matthew spearheads the Globe's sports coverage in B.C., and spends most of his time with the NHL Canucks and CFL Lions. He has worked for four dailies and TSN since graduating from Carleton University's School of Journalism a decade ago, and has covered the Olympic Games, Super Bowls, Grey Cups, the Stanley Cup playoffs and the NBA Finals. More

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