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.”
“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.