VANCOUVER – Centre Manny Malhotra, who was shut down by the Vancouver Canucks last week due to vision issues, made a surprise appearance Sunday at the team’s optional morning skate.
There weren’t many players on the ice, just the scratches and goalies, and the practice mainly involved shooting on Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider.
Malhotra, 32, did not talk to reporters following the workout and, according to the Canucks, he won’t be speaking to the media until he feels more comfortable with his situation. He did appear to be having fun, however.
Canuck head coach Alain Vigneault later explained Malhotra’s appearance.
“Manny is still a part our team and we want him to be around the players,” Vigneault said. “We want him to continue to have that solid impact that he has with our group with the way he conducts himself. Anytime he wants to step on the ice and skate with our guys, he’s more than welcome.”
Malhotra’s last game was Feb. 9 against the Calgary Flames. He is officially on injured reserve and will receive the remainder of his prorated $2.5 million salary. He had no points in nine games.
BOOTH REVIEW: Five weeks ago, Canuck winger David Booth suffered a groin injury during training camp testing. He was declared out for 4-6 weeks and appears right on schedule. Barring a setback, he expects to play on the Canucks’ four-game road trip that begins Tuesday in Chicago. The team then moves on to Dallas, Nashville and Detroit.
“Yes, I do think I will play on the trip,” Booth said. “I know I’m very close and, hopefully, I’ll be playing very soon. I’m getting excited. Chicago is a possibility in my mind. Two days is a lot. We’ll see how it feels.”
The groin problem is the second major injury suffered by Booth since he joined the Canucks in a trade from the Florida Panthers on Oct. 22, 2011. Last season, he sprained his knee after being taken out by Kevin Porter, then of the Colorado Avalanche. Booth missed 18 games while Porter received a four-game suspension.
So far, Booth has missed 14 games with the groin pains.
LOUIE, LOUIE: Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is a big Roberto Luongo fan. The two have been together for three major international competitions, most recently the 2010 Winter Olympics in which Bobby Lou was the gold-medal goalie for Canada.
“I know one thing about Roberto and that’s nothing bothers him,” said Hitchcock. “He’s about as professional as they come. Nothing gets in his way of focus. He’s played in every situation and as difficult as this one is here in Vancouver, the Olympics were harder. I’ve seen him perform at a very high level for a long, long time.”
BLUE BRIAN: Last season was a banner one for St. Louis netminder Brian Elliott, who shared the Jennings Trophy for fewest goals against with teammate Jaro Halak. He led the league in both GAA (1.56) and save percentage (.940) but, this past week, has watched rookie Jake Allen start ahead of him for three straight games. His stats so far in 2013? An ugly 3.57 GAA and .849 save rate.
“I think Brian was a product of shinny hockey during the lockout,” said Hitchcock. “Some of the habits you get into are hard to break. And when you play three or four months of the same stuff, it doesn’t matter what you’re thinking, it’s mannerisms and routines and he needed some instruction to get back his game. His last three practices have looked like the Brian Elliott of old.”