Published November 20, 2014
VANCOUVER -- Canucks center Manny Malhotra upgraded his status from day-to-day to "game-time decision" Saturday morning when he met the media. As promised Friday, the injured 31-year-old took part in the Canucks morning skate, and says he'll take the pre-game skate later this afternoon.
"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."
The former New York Rangers first-round pick says the fan reaction at Rogers Arena Saturday night will be special should he play.
"I realize how privileged I am to play in a market like Vancouver," he said. " We have incredible fans here. They've shown me nothing but support this entire year and through this entire last couple months. So it's a privilege to play in front of them. I thank them for all the support that they've given me thus far."
If he is to play Saturday night, it'll likely be on the fourth line along with some combination of Victor Oreskovich, Alexandre Bolduc and Jeff Tambellini.
Alain Vigneault said there was no chance of him returning to his old spot, as center of the team's third line, because he did not want to disrupt the chemistry Jannik Hansen, Raffi Torres and Maxim Lapierre have developed throughout the playoffs.
"I think if he is able to play, we understand that he's been out for quite some time now," said Vigneault. "We'll ease him in. His strong points are he's good on faceoffs, he's smart in our zone. So probably in those situations there we would use him."
Malhotra suffered a severe injury to his left eye on March 16, in a game against the Colorado Avalanche, when a deflected puck struck him. Initially, the team deemed him done for the season; however, on May 12 he slowly began participating in practice with his teammates.
After skating in a 40-minute scrimmage, and subsequent special teams practice on Monday, Malhotra was nowhere to be seen for three days. He returned to the practice ice on Friday at the University of British Columbia and confirmed that he had been cleared to play.