A popular name floating around town is Canucks’ center Manny Malhotra — it may even be trending on Twitter.
Weight: 220 lbs.
2010-11 stats: 72 games played, 11-19-30 totals, plus-9, 111 shots on goal
Draft: 1998, New York Rangers, First-Round, 7th overall
Salary: three-year contract, $7.5 million
Notes: Was the team’s 3rd-line center, top face-off guy — won 778-of-1,261 (61.7%) — and shot-blocker amongst forwards– 74 through 72 games.
The Canucks lost lost Malhotra in the second period of a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on March 16 after being hit in the left-eye by a puck — deflected by Avs defenseman Erik Johnson. He underwent multiple operations to repair his eye, and vision.
Yesterday, Malhotra was back on the ice for the Canucks, participating in the off-day practice. His status for Game 2 tonight is still up-in-the-air, and day-to-day.
“He’s cleared for physical contact, which is cleared to play,” said Canucks’ head coach Alain Vigneault yeasterday. “We said, I said at that time, he was
day to day. He was monitored every day.”
Daniel Fung of canucks.nhl.com had this to say of Malhotra last week:
Manny’s return is going to provide an emotional lift. How much he can do on the ice remains to be seen. Obviously he hasn’t played since mid-March when he suffered the injury so conditioning might be an issue. He mentioned he only started working out again recently when he got back on the ice which was only about two weeks ago. If he does factor back into the lineup, they’ll probably start him out as the 4th line center bumping rookie Cody Hodgson [Alexandre Bolduc, who logged 1:39 in Game 1] out of the lineup. The Canucks haven’t been rolling four lines as much as the Bruins have so even if they aren’t comfortable playing Manny more than 5-8 minutes a game it wouldn’t be much different than what they already did in the last round (the 4th line didn’t see any ice-time in the 3rd period plus the ~30 minutes of overtime played in Game 5 against the Sharks last round).
They’ll probably try and put him out in certain situations specifically defensive zone faceoffs and penalty kills if he’s up to the task. If all goes well for him and he’s able to get back up to speed in a hurry, he might slot back into the 3rd line C spot which was where he was at the time of his injury. Lapierre has had a fairly strong playoff for the Canucks, however, so I think the Canucks aren’t going to force anything with Malhotra unless they are 100% confident he can do it.