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Malhotra could play in Game 1

by Dhiren Mahiban /
VANCOUVER Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was maintaining the fact that center Manny Malhotra is "day-to-day" when he met the media Monday at Rogers Arena.

However, anyone who watched practice closely noticed the forward was paired on a penalty killing unit alongside Maxim Lapierre -- a sign that he could play Game 1 against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

"I've been watching (Maxim) play for quite some time now," Malhotra said. "It becomes a lot easier out there with a guy like him, who has that knack for talking, and we communicate really well out there in terms of switching, knowing where each other is, that made the transition today a little bit easier."

Malhotra was officially cleared to play over the weekend after sitting out since March 16, when he suffered a severe eye injury during the Canucks' 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche.

Lapierre was acquired at the February trade deadline, and the two were together for roughly two weeks prior to Malhotra's injury. However, Lapierre says the chemistry is already there, doesn't foresee any issues playing alongside Malhotra.

"It's easy to play with that guy. He's really smart and he's a leader so he talks a lot on the ice … it makes things so much easier," said Lapierre. "The first few games I played with him, when he was in the line-up, I already knew what kind of player he was and what he can bring to the team.

"He's unreal. I mean, he's a great leader, really relaxed guy, gives you a lot of confidence when you talk to him."

On Monday, Malhotra was skating on a line between rookie Cody Hodgson and speedy winger Jeff Tambellini as the Canucks broke into two separate teams and scrimmaged for nearly 45 minutes.

Malhotra's strong-side when it comes to taking draws is on the left side -- his left eye is the one which was stuck by the puck -- but Malhotra says there's no issues with his vision when it comes to lining up in the faceoff circle.

"I can see the entire spectrum of what I need to see," he said. "That's all that matters."

It's likely that Malhotra starts Game 1 on the fourth line playing limited time while being used in key faceoff situations, and on the penalty kill.

It seems the seven days off between the Western Conference Final and the start of the Stanley Cup Final have done wonders for Christian Ehrhoff.  The Canucks defenseman confirmed to the media Monday that he is good to go for Game 1.

Ehrhoff was injured in Game 4 of the conference final when he collided shoulder-to-shoulder with San Jose Sharks forward Jamie McGinn. He did not play Game 5.
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