Malhotra practices, Hamhuis doesn't as Canucks prepare for Game 2 of Stanley Cup finals
Greetings from Vancouver, where for the first time in several days it isn’t raining. Even the locals have been complaining about the wet weather lately but the sun was shining Friday when the Canucks took to the ice at the University of British Columbia’s Thunderbird Arena for practice.
The big news: Center Manny Malhotra, recovering from a devastating eye injury, practiced with his teammates but defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who suffered an undisclosed injury during the Canucks’ 1-0 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, wasn’t on the ice.
Malhotra, a faceoff specialist and skillful penalty killer, has come a long way from his March 16 injury to even be considered for duty in Game 2, to be played Saturday at Rogers Arena. He was expected to miss the rest of the season and his recovery has had its ups and downs: He was on the ice last week and had to take three days off because “I didn’t feel it proper to go on the ice,” he said.
He also said he was cleared for full contact Friday but wouldn’t predict if he will play Saturday.
“From one day to the next things have changed.”
General Manager Mike Gillis said Malhotra is “a question mark” for Game 2 and vigorously denied rumors that Malhotra had recently undergone emergency surgery.
“When we began this process a couple of months ago we were told by the surgeons that there would be minor, minor things that would come up during his recovery process,” Gillis said. “He’s had multiple, little small procedures throughout this entire time. They’re commonplace. Lots of people who have had an injury at all that resembles his, or people that genetic issues with eyesight, go through these. They do 30 or 40 a day at the clinic where our eye specialist is.
“Someone asked me about emergency surgery. It is completely untrue and not accurate.”
Gillis also said the Canucks never planned to play Malhotra in Game 1.
“We were still thinking about that and trying to make a decision,” Gillis said. “There’s a lot that goes into it. It isn’t as simplistic as it might appear to be. We’ve said all along that we’re going to be as patient as we possibly can with Manny and there will be no risk to him before he steps on the ice in an NHL game. And that’s the way it’s going to be. And if we feel at any point in time for whatever reason, if he’s not in good enough shape, or any reason at all, if we don’t feel comfortable he’s not playing.”
The Canucks wouldn’t say anything about Hamhuis other than he’s day to day. Andrew Alberts practiced alongside Christian Ehrhoff on Friday, and although Coach Alain Vigneault cautioned against reading anything into that, Vigneault's practice lineup usually ends up being his game lineup.
Alberts began his career with the Bruins after playing at Boston College but was traded by the Bruins to Philadelphia in October, 2008.
“I have some buddies over there so it’s fun playing against them but it’s a different makeup from when I was there so it’s a little different attitude and identity,” he said.
Alberts has appeared in only three of the Canucks’ 19 playoff games this spring. “It’s never easy to sit out,” he said. “As long as the team’s winning I’m happy for them. You try in practice to help guys out on and off the ice and be supportive. It’s nice to work hard and finally get a shot here, hopefully.”
Check back later for more coverage from the Stanley Cup finals.
-- Helene Elliott in Vancouver, Canada
Photo: Vancouver Canucks center Manny Malhotra looks out from behind his visor during hockey practice Friday. Credit: Mike Blake / Reuters