VANCOUVER — The Manny Malhotra watch continued today, as Vancouver carried on NHL playoff tradition and refused to reveal the center’s status for tonight’s Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Arena.
Malhotra has made a ridiculously rapid recovery from a serious eye injury that required two surgeries after he was hit with a puck in March. He’d been practicing for weeks until taking a couple days off earlier this week. He returned to practice yesterday.
Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault called Maholtra a “game-time decision” for tonight.
“I feel really good, yeah,” said Malhotra. “I felt good yesterday skating. Felt good this morning. So, again, hopefully I’ll continue throughout the day.”
While he wouldn’t say for certain Malhotra would play, Vigneault was willing to speculate about how he would use the veteran center.
“Well, I think if he is able to play, we understand that he’s been out for quite some time now. We’ll ease him in,” said the coach. “But his strong points are he’s good on faceoffs, he’s smart in our zone. So probably in those situations there we would use him. I’m definitely not going to use him with his linemates that he had before. That line is playing real well, [Raffi] Torres, [Maxim] Lapierre and [Jannik] Hansen. I have no intention of breaking that up.”
We won’t know if Vigneault has any intentions of using Malhotra at all until the lineup comes out just a few minutes before the puck drops tonight.