CBC's PJ Stock speculates Malhotra to make big comeback in Stanley Cup final

CBC hockey analyst PJ Stock speaks with the Vancouver Observer at the Metropolitan Hotel. Photos by Parisa Azadi.

"The puck's going to be bouncing around, the building's going to be crazy, it's going to be awesome."

With the big Canucks-Bruins match just hours away, the Stanley Cup playoffs CBC sports reporter and former NHL tough guy PJ Stock had a few ideas about how the series will play out. 

"There's going to be so much nervous energy for both teams," said Stock, a Quebec native known for some of the most memorable fights in recent hockey history.  "From Boston's perspective, they want calm their nerves -- they want to play really boring hockey. Vancouver's going to get so wound up with the crowd, so during the first period, whichever team can control their emotions and stay out of the penalty box will benefit the most." 

In an interview after the pre-game skate, Stock said that neither team's starting lineup was practicing on the ice, making it hard to gauge the players' condition. He added that keeping emotions in check in the pumped-up Rogers Arena will be crucial for both teams. 

Manny Malhotra's comeback

One of the big questions on people's minds before Game One is whether Canucks forward Manny Malhotra, who was just cleared by doctors to play, will be on the ice tonight. Malhotra went out with a severe eye injury in late March, but has continued to provide moral support by coming to the games, making a miraculous recovery just in time for the finals. 

"We'd heard that Manny Malhotra won't be playing tonight," said Stock. However, he wonders if this is true, after looking at this morning's pre-game skate. Neither the Canucks nor the Bruins had their starting lineup at the pre-game skate this morning, and Malhotra's absence leads Stock to think there's still a strong chance the fans will see him make a comback to night. 

"If you want to get Malhotra in, you want to have him in as early as possible," said Stock. "You don't want to wait. Game one's first period is going to be nuts. It's been a seven-day rest period for Vancouver so there's a lot of rust, but there's going to be so much nervous energy for both teams -- With Malhotra situation it would be great to put him on ice the first game, only for about five minutes. He's going to be great for putting on the faceoffs, killing penalties, but when there's a lull in the game, you put him out there for a shift, the place is going to go crazy." 

Then again, the coaches have found a winning formula with rookie Cody Hodgson, who was brought in to replace Malhotra and helped hold the fort, bringing the Canucks into the finals. Would it be fair to bump him off in favour of Malhotra? Currently, Alexandre Bolduc is slated to take over for him.

"The coach will be like, we really need Manny. But is he at 70 per cent? 100 per cent? Is Cody Hodgson's 100 per cent better than Manny's 70? He doesn't want to change up the fourth line which has some chemistry going ... but it would be a huge morale boost if Manny Malhotra played."

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