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.