Manny Malhotra

While Manny Malhotra practices, Dan Hamhuis sits out; Both listed as day-to-day

Right when you think you’ve got an idea of what the Canucks have got going on regarding the injuries to Manny Malhotra and Dan Hamhuis, they do some things to make sure you’re on your toes. Case in point, their practice today in Vancouver. Malhotra took to the ice and practiced with the fourth line while Hamhuis did not participate.

With Malhotra working on a line with Jeff Tambellini and Victor Oreskovich, the two guys who played in Game 1 on the fourth line, speculation is sky high that Malhotra will suit up for Game 2. During the post practice press conference, coach Alain Vigneault was decidedly coy about about how things will shake out for the lineup.

Q. Any sort of update on Manny?

COACH VIGNEAULT: Manny is day to day (laughter).

Q. How did he look to you today?

COACH VIGNEAULT: Skated well.

Er, well… Thanks coach. Vigneault did say that if Malhotra does draw into the lineup, he’ll have a specific purpose.

“If Manny does play, obviously he’s one of the best faceoff guys in the league, so he would be used a little bit more in our end without a doubt,” Vigneault said.

Malhotra said he didn’t just want to play for the sake of appearing in another game. Instead, he wants to make sure he can make a positive impact on the action.

“This is not about me wanting a sentimental shift,” said Malhotra, a faceoff specialist and standout defensive forward. “It’s about me feeling I can contribute.”

(snip)

“I wish I could put it into a percentage for you, but it’s going to be day-to-day,” Malhotra said. “I’ll see how I feel after the morning skate. We’ll make a decision at that point.”

While Malhotra playing over Alexandre Bolduc would be a massive improvement for the Canucks, having to potentially step away from Dan Hamhuis is a bit of a blow. While the Canucks have dealt with injuries along the blue line all season long and did well to fill ranks, they’re looking at potentially Andrew Alberts taking Hamhuis’ spot in the lineup. Alberts lined up with Christian Ehrhoff at practice today, a spot that Hamhuis would play.

Vigneault downplayed Alberts’ role in practice today and made it clear that Hamhuis, like Malhotra, is day-to-day.

Q. I noticed you had Andrew Alberts skating along Christian Ehrhoff.
COACH VIGNEAULT: Dan is day to day. Don’t put anything in the lines or the D pairs you saw today.

Q. Can I ask you about Andrew Alberts? What would you expect from him?
COACH VIGNEAULT: I’d expect him to play well. He’s a big body. He’s a physical presence. Every time we’ve used Andrew, he’s played extremely well for us and hard.

Whether he’s in the lineup or not, he’ll do a good job.

A coach never wants to give away all his tricks but there’s enough to read into things here. Malhotra getting worked out today means that the chances of seeing him play in Game 2 are there and if he’s ready to go, he’ll likely draw into the lineup.

As for Hamhuis’ day off, that’s a bit more cryptic. He could be more banged up with a “mid-body injury” as Vigneault put it after his hit on Milan Lucic in Game 1 or he could be just resting up whatever did happen more today to ensure he’s ready for tomorrow night’s Game 2. Read into things how you will. Either way, we’re sure that the Bruins don’t have much of an idea of who they’ll be dealing with in a pivotal Game 2 and perhaps that’s just the way Vancouver likes it.

Streaking Blues get Stastny back tonight

UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 06:  Paul Stastny #26 of the St. Louis Blues skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on December 6, 2014 in Uniondale, New York. The Blues defeated the Islanders 6-4.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Saturday’s loss to Buffalo notwithstanding, St. Louis has been on fire lately under new head coach Mike Yeo. The Blues are 7-2 in their last nine, and will get a big piece of the lineup back this evening when they host Florida at Scottrade.

Paul Statsny, who’s missed the last four games with a lower-body injury, will draw in for the first time since Feb. 9, per NHL.com’s Lou Korac.

What’s more, Stastny will be immediately reunited on the club’s top line between Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko.

Stastny had been on fire since the dismissal of former head coach Ken Hitchcock, racking up six points over his last five games played (in which the Blues went 4-1-0).

The 31-year-old currently sits fourth on the team in assists and points, while averaging 19:25 TOI per night, so he’s clearly a big part of the St. Louis attack. And based on his form prior to getting hurt, it was clear things were clicking with Steen and Tarasenko — which should make for an exciting test tonight against the red-hot Panthers.

Sens recall pair of forwards in wake of multiple injuries

Ottawa Senators' Mark Stone (61) lies injured on the ice after being hit hard by Winnipeg Jets' Jacob Trouba (not shown) during third period NHL hockey action in Ottawa, Sunday Feb. 19, 2017. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press via AP)
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The Ottawa Senators have called up some reinforcements from the AHL.

Forwards Casey Bailey and Max McCormick are on their way to the big club, in the wake of Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Jets that saw Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone and Tommy Wingels all leave with injuries.

The Sens also went into yesterday’s game without winger Bobby Ryan, who’s out indefinitely with a hand injury.

No word yet on the status of Hoffman, Stone, or Wingels, but head coach Guy Boucher wasn’t all that optimistic yesterday.

“It doesn’t look good,” Boucher told reporters. “We have to wait until tomorrow to be clear and precise but right now we could be losing quite a few guys.”

The Sens kick off a four-game road trip tomorrow in New Jersey. They currently sit second in the Atlantic Division, but not that far ahead of Boston, Toronto, and Florida.

Related: Jacob Trouba will have a hearing for head shot on Mark Stone

Kings’ Robitaille named chairman of German League club (Updated)

2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final – Game Six
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Kings legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille has added a new role to his front office portfolio.

Robitaille, currently serving as L.A.’s president of business operations, has been named as the chairman of Eisbaren Berlin, one of the most storied clubs in Germany’s top league, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.

Berlin is owned by the Anschutz Entertainment Group, the same outfit that owns the Kings. The two clubs have a fairly long history with each other, though this Robitaille appointment is part of what sounds like the biggest cooperative initiative to date.

UPDATE: The Kings have confirmed the development, with added information…

The Los Angeles Kings will now oversee all operations of Berlin Eisbaren Hockey, it was announced today at a news conference at Mercedes-Benz Arena.

Eisbaren Berlin of the German Ice Hockey League and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League are owned and operated by AEG Sports, a division of the Anschutz Entertainment Group. The LA Kings will now begin leading all hockey operations and administrative matters, directing the day-to-day leadership of Managing Director Peter John Lee.

“The results the last few years in Berlin have not been the championship standards that we all expect,” said Robitaille.  “It became clear that our relationship needs to go beyond collaboration and move to a complete connection to ensure the team and organization has what it needs to return this club to the type of team our fans expect and have demonstrated passionate support for.”

From the Eisbaren Berlin website (translated):

“This is an important day for the polar bears Berlin,” said Eisbären CEO Peter John Lee. We have been interacting with Luc Robitaille and LA Kings for a long time. In the new constellation we have the leadership of the LA Kings directly on board the polar bears, so we can work even more intensively to turn the polar bears Berlin into a championship team again.”

(At this time, probably worth noting the team’s nickname translates to polar bears.)

Former Kings farmhand Alex Roach currently plays for Berlin, and the team is coached by Robitaille’s former teammate in Detroit, Uwe Krupp.

Who has the best and worst special teams in the NHL?

Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) celebrates with teammates after scoring a power play goal against the New York Islanders during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
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If the Toronto Maple Leafs make the playoffs, special teams will be one of the big reasons why.

Three quarters of the way through the season, the Leafs boast the NHL’s top power play, and their ninth-ranked penalty killing isn’t too bad either.

When the PP and PK are combined, Toronto has the best special teams in the league, followed closely by the Bruins, Blues, and Capitals.

Here’s how all 30 teams rank (best and worst PP and PK in bold):

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As you can see, the bottom of the list is full of teams who will miss the playoffs. The Stars’ penalty killing has been particularly dreadful. In fact, Dallas is on pace to have the worst PK of the salary-cap era.