Sedin feeling no effects from Keith elbow

If not for this pesky lockout, last night at Rogers Arena would’ve been one of the most anticipated nights of the NHL’s regular season.

That’s because it was supposed to be the first meeting between the Canucks and Blackhawks since March 21 when Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith caught Vancouver forward Daniel Sedin with a flying elbow.

For a play the NHL deemed “dangerous” and “reckless,” Keith was suspended five games.

Unfortunately for the Canucks, Sedin didn’t get off so easy. The 2011 Art Ross Trophy winner missed the rest of the regular season (nine games) and three playoff games with a concussion.

Without Sedin, Vancouver lost the first three games of its opening-round series against the Kings, got eliminated in five, then had to watch Los Angeles roll to its first Stanley Cup win in franchise history.

So yeah, you can see why last night could’ve been interesting.

Alas, we’ll have to wait a little longer to witness the latest chapter in the Canucks-‘Hawks rivalry.

In the meantime, Sedin is skating with a handful of teammates in Vancouver and trying to put the concussion concerns behind him.

“You notice at times, in the first few practices, that you’re kind of hesitant in the corners because you don’t want to be blind-sided and not be ready for it,” he told The Province on Thursday. “You see the tiniest hit and it cost a guy a full year and you see a big hit and a guy is back in a week. It’s a tricky injury and that’s why it’s so scary.

“I’ve had nothing, no symptoms. I took a few weeks off after the season and started training again. You worry about the first few workouts, but everything has been fine. I’m doing the same things that I did before [the concussion] and that was the bottom line.”

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.

Tortorella was irate after Roman Polak boarded Oliver Bjorkstrand

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John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.

Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.

First, take a look at the hit:

Next, behold Tortorella’s anger:

Again, Columbus couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities, so that didn’t make things any better.

Right now, the Maple Leafs lead the Blue Jackets 3-2. If Toronto ends up winning, this will stand as one of the game’s pivotal moments.

It’s far from the only exciting moment, however, with these goals and big hits also standing out.

Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.

Leafs’ Nylander puts on show with breakaway goal, assist on Matthews’ 33rd

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Update: OK, so Nylander’s really stealing the show. This is stupendous.