While his spot on the roster is still in question, the chances of Vancouver Canucks two-way center Manny Malhotra completing his improbable comeback keep increasing. The latest signs of improvement came after the Canucks’ morning skate Saturday, as Malhotra upgraded his status from day-to-day to a game-time decision.
Dan Murphy points out that Malhotra skated with fourth-liners Victor Oreskovich and Jeff Tambellini in the early practice session, which implies that Alexandre Bolduc could be the odd man out if Malhotra does play in Game 2 tonight.
Malhotra’s faceoff winning skills and all-around defensive abilities could ease the burden on Selke Trophy candidate Ryan Kesler, whose two-way play was counted upon that much more in Malhotra’s absence. An already strong Canucks penalty kill would receive a boost if Malhotra can play, although it’s worth noting that the team would probably try to ease him back into the action.
Again, it’s not a sure thing that he’ll play tonight, though. Here is what he told reporters today, via NHL.com.
“I’m honestly not trying to send you guys on a wild goose chase. That’s just the nature of the situation right now,” Malhotra said. “I felt good yesterday skating. Felt good this morning. So, again, hopefully, I’ll continue throughout the day.”
The Mississauga native admitted it will be an emotional night for him if he can play in his first game in two-and-a-half months.
“It’s obviously an incredible position to be in,” Malhotra said. “I think everybody that’s on the ice tonight has dreamed about (the Stanley Cup Final) at some point or another in their career, growing up. I realize the significance of the moment.
“At the same time, once the puck’s dropped, I’m going to have to just, again, bring it back to basics. Just another game, got to do the things I’ve done my whole career.”
Malhotra plans on taking part in the team’s pre-game skate, so we might not know whether or not he’ll play until right around the time the first puck drops. You can follow the action tonight on NBC at 8 p.m. ET.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.