First came the long shot hopes. Then the speculation. The skates with the team where he was just having fun. Then he was cleared for contact. Now with Manny Malhotra having practiced with the team in preparation for Game 2, everyone is wondering once again if he could be preparing for his return to the Canucks lineup. Nucks Misconduct, after talking to people with connections with the team, believes Manny Malhotra could play in Game 3, if all goes well. While Manny has been practicing with the team for a while, and missed some sessions where it was feared he'd suffered some type of a setback, it would make sense to be gearing up for a Game 3 return.
It would certainly be a little easier for him in terms of pressure to make his return on the road, and a few more days of practice to shake off that rust certainly isn't going to hurt. It should be noted that his official status of 'day to day' has not changed on the injury list, and that likely wouldn't until shortly before Game 2 or 3. It is of course, possible that he could end up playing Saturday night when the Canucks meet the Bruins in Game 2. It's also possible there could be a setback, as there's no determining the way this type of injury heals.
One thing that was good to see was that the rumours that arose yesterday about Malhotra having some type of 'emergency procedure' were completely false and that was confirmed today by Canucks GM Mike Gillis, who said "He's had multiple, little small procedures through this entire time, they are common place. Lots of people who have had an injury that at all resembles his ... goes through these".
There's no doubt though, whether it be in Game 2 or 3 that the lift his return will give to the players and fans will be monumental. The Canucks have gone out of their way to make sure they do everything right to allow Manny to get back and help the team win the Cup. We are close to seeing what many of us never believed could happen actually go down. And as a Canucks fan, that's just one more reason to cheer.
As far as Dan Hamhuis' status, he remains day to day with a suspected lower body injury. Andrew Alberts may draw into the lineup to replace the Smithers, BC native, though it could also see Keith Ballard make his 1st appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals. Ballard had a strong Game 5 against San Jose, playing well with rookie Chris Tanev.