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Canucks injury updates for Ryan Kesler, Dan Hamhuis and Manny Malhotra

Don’t expect the Vancouver Canucks to make any excuses for an oh-so-close finish to their first-ever Stanley Cup victory, but the team was banged up by the time the Boston Bruins raised the silver chalice. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the team limp into the beginning of the 2011-12 season a bit, especially with their schedule being a bit treacherous in the early going.

Two-way forward Ryan Kesler, responsible defenseman Dan Hamhuis and checking center Manny Malhotra ranked among the most significant Canucks who are still fighting through injuries during a shortened off-season. With training camps commencing around the NHL, it’s time that teams begin to reveal updates – even if the changes might be clearer on the ice than in announcements from time to time.

The Vancouver Province provides an update that Kesler could be back late October or possibly sometime in November, although it’s also important to underline phrases such as “out indefinitely.” Although Kesler came back ahead of schedule the last time he dealt with a somewhat similar injury, Jason Botchford points out that the versatile forward’s second surgery was more invasive and the circumstances are different this time around. He was trying to get back for the playoffs last time, while this presents the lower stakes of early season games and off-season recovery.

In other Canucks injury-related news, Brad Ziemer takes a look at the recovery processes for Hamhuis and Malhotra. Hamhuis said that he’s now pain-free during his rehab from a sports hernia surgery, but he won’t rush back to action and will likely miss most of the team’s preseason games. That being said, the goal seems to be for him to be back by the start of the 2011-12 season.

“I’m feeling pretty good, working hard on rehabbing all summer,’ he said. “A few weeks ago it turned pain-free and now it’s just a matter of working hard and getting the strength and confidence back in that leg.”

Hamhuis hopes to be ready for the start of the regular season and likely won’t see any action until near the end of the exhibition schedule.

Speaking of missing a portion of the preseason, it appears that Malhotra won’t appear in at least some exhibition games as his recovery from a scary eye injury continues. Malhotra played in the final six games of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals but admitted that he underwent more procedures for his eye in the summer.

“I don’t want to get into too many details, but everything that needed to be done was done and the rest is up to me, how well do I heal,” said Malhotra, who did return to play in six playoff games in June. “Since then we did some different things to give me the best possible chance for a full recovery and we have laid out another plan to get back to where I need to be.”

While the Canucks expect to get Kesler, Hamhuis and Malhotra back at some point in the near future, one player who moved on completely is hard-shooting defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. Some might wonder how the team will fare without one of their top blueliners from last season, but Henrik Sedin was surprisingly frank about the Canucks ability to move on.

“I don’t think we lost anything,” Henrik Sedin said, bluntly.

Wait a minute. Doesn’t Henrik remember Ehrhoff’s 24 minutes a game and his 28 power play points? How could Henrik just dismiss the loss of the $40-million man?

“He was in a spot where we have other guys who can step up and play in that role,” Henrik continued. “Alex (Edler) is going to get more responsibility. We have a healthy Sami Salo now. We have a lot of guys who are going play a few more minutes.”

Considering how well the Canucks rolled with defensemen missing games  – aside from maybe the last round – Sedin might just be right. The bottom line is that this team isn’t wildly different going into 2011-12, although injuries and wounded expectations will make the circumstances quite different.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.