VANCOUVER — The Canucks already have a 1-0 series lead over the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. Now they may also be getting back one of their key depth players.
Forward Manny Malhotra, who has been sidelined since being struck in the eye with a puck on Mach 16, practiced once again with Vancouver Friday at the University of British Columbia. Malhotra had not skated since Monday and is still questionable for Saturday's Game 2, but has been officially cleared for contact and skated a regular shift on the fourth line in Friday's workout.
"I wish I could put it into a percentage for you," Malhotra said of his chances of playing in Game 2. "Again, it's going to be day to day. I'll see how I feel after our morning skate and we'll make a decision at that point.
"Today I was cleared for contact," Malhotra added. "I was able to participate in full practice."
That was a big step forward after a setback following Monday's workout.
"As I said on Saturday, it's a day-to-day situation," Malhotra said. "From one day to the next, things have changed. It didn't feel proper to go on the ice, so I took a couple days off."
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault remained vague on any injury information, saying only that Malhotra is "day to day" and noting that he "skated well" in Friday's practice.
If Malhotra does play, he'll likely see more ice time than the handful of shifts the fourth line of Jeff Tambellini, Victor Oreskovich and Alexandre Bolduc received in Game 1.
"If Manny does play, obviously he's one of the best faceoff guys in the league, so he would be used a little bit more in our end without a doubt," Vigneault said.
For his part, Malhotra stated he doesn't want his attempt to return become "a sideshow," but did admit that it has been tough to get this close to coming back from such a serious injury and know he still may not be able to play in the Final.
"I guess it kind of weighs into it a little bit," Malhotra said. "But at the same time I realize the severity of the injury. I realize the intensity of the moment. I realize the intensity of play has picked up since I last played. This is not me wanting to have a sentimental shift out there and be a part of it all. It's the fact that I feel that I could contribute something to the team."