Canucks Game Day: Rookie goalie a likely Wild card; Manny Malhotra out of the lineup (with video)
Vancouver’s fourth-line centre won’t play due to 'personal matter'
Vancouver Canuck Manny Malhotra skates informally with a few teammates and the UBC Thunderbirds at the Vancouver Universities arena on Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. The veteran centre is out of the lineup for 'personal reasons' as the Canucks get set to face the Minnesota Wild tonight at Rogers Arena.
Photograph by: Ward Perrin, PNG
VANCOUVER — If Henrik Sedin does move past Markus Naslund tonight as the Vancouver Canucks' all-time leading point-getter, it appears the record will come against a goalie making his NHL debut.
The Minnesota Wild, Vancouver's opponent at Rogers Arena, have summoned netminder Darcy Kuemper from the American League's Houston Aeros and he is expected to start (7 p.m., TSN, Team 1040). Kuemper, 22, is a native of Saskatoon and played for the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL, where he was goalie of the year in 2010-11.
Kuemper has won five straight in the AHL and has a 1.79 GAA and .938 save percentage. He was called up after regular Wild backup Josh Harding, who was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, told team officials he felt “a little bit off.” possibly due to medication. The Wild's No. 1 man Nicklas Backstrom played Monday night in Calgary and backstopped Minny to a 2-1 shootout win.
“Josh is dealing with some medication, there is a lot of trial and error,” explained Wild GM Chuck Fletcher. “Every situation is different.”
Meanwhile, there appears to be something up with Canucks fourth-line centre Manny Malhotra, who will not play tonight due to what the team is calling “a personal matter.” According to assistant coach Rick Bowness, who met the media Tuesday morning, there will be no further elaboration on Malhotra's absence.
“No, can't,” Bowness said. “Will not elaborate. Personal matter.”
Asked if there was a sense when Malhotra might return, Bowness relied: “No.”
Malhotra, 32, has no points and is minus-3 in nine appearances. He is in the final season of a three-year deal paying him $2.5 million annually (pro-rated for this year) and has struggled ever since his near catastrophic eye injury of March 16, 2011. He did not practise Monday. Andrew Ebbett will take Malhotra's spot in the lineup.
Meanwhile, Henrik Sedin said he will be seeking a scouting report from Canuck goalie coach Rollie Melanson on Kuemper, who is listed at 6-4 and 212 pounds. The Canucks’ captain needs one point to tie Naslund and two to break the franchise mark of 756.
“Rollie usually puts up a scouting report on every goalie and I'm sure it's going to be the same tonight,” Henrik added.
The Canucks figure they will receive a tougher fight from the Wild, who have won two straight since being beaten 4-1 by Vancouver last Thursday. Both wins were by identical 2-1 scores. But this is also the Wild's third game in four nights in three different time zones.
“We're expecting an 'A' effort from them,” said Canucks winger Alex Burrows. “I'm sure they weren't too happy with the way they played against us last week in their own building. It doesn't really matter if it's their third game in four nights. And it doesn't really matter to us if it's exciting or not. At the end of the day , we want the two points.”
Even though the Canucks have won five straight, they only lead the Wild by three points in the standings. Minnesota has played one more game.
Referees for tonight's contest are Chris Rooney and Ghislain Hebert.
INJURIES: Wild D Jared Spurgeon (foot) may return tonight ...The Canucks will be without C Ryan Kesler (shoulder, wrist), LW David Booth (groin) and C Manny Malhotra (personal).
ICE CHIPS: The Canucks and Sportsnet formally announced today their new 10-year agreement, which was first reported Saturday by Sun columnist Greg Douglas. Sportsnet has been doing the Canucks regional package since 1998. The agreement is for between 55-60 games depending on national broadcast commitments. “The Canucks are 'the' sports property to have in British Columbia,” said Scott Moore, head of Rogers Media broadcast division. “They're just fantastic partners,” added Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini.
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