Have you seen Canuck Manny Malholtra? He seems to be missing – at least a part of him is. Manny Malholtra is known as a two-way forward and for his exceptional faceoff percentage. But so far this season Vancouver has not seen this shut down defensive forward match his last season high calibre performance. He has declined in speed, strength, time, and overall effectiveness.
During the 2010/2011 season Manny Malholtra was being considered as a Selke nominee, the trophy for the leagues best two way forward. In the end he ranked 5th for the Selke trophy. He was playing as a leader.
He was playing a lot of time on the penalty kill as a defensive specialist and to take important faceoffs. The third line was greatly improved last season while he centered Jannik Hansen and Raffi Torres. He was a great signing for the Canucks because having another defensive forward similar to Ryan Kesler, allowed Kesler to be more offensive which led him to scoring 41 goals and 73 points. The Canucks’ third line became one of the best third lines in the league.
Unfortunately Manny Malholtra’s season came to an end March 16th 2011 when a puck struck his eye. It was a scary moment – there was potential that he could lose his vision, which would end his NHL career. It was a huge loss for the Canucks because he was a huge asset to the team on the ice and in the locker room because of his leadership.
After several successful surgeries Malholtra made a miraculous, almost full recovery and started in game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The roar from the crowd was enormous when he stepped on the ice, everyone thought he would be Vancouver’s inspiration to win it all. In his first game back he won 6 of 7 faceoffs. However, he was not the same. His defensive abilities were down, his ice time went way down, and his offensive touch was gone: he just wasn’t playing like Manny Malholtra.
Due to his injury and not playing for a few months because of it, nobody could blame Malholtra for his declined play. After the heartbreaking loss in game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals Manny Malholtra had more surgeries over the Summer to enhance his recovery. When the season started in October everybody expected him to be back to normal. But once again Manny Malholtra wasn’t playing like himself. He had a very slow start to the season and didn’t score his first goal until November 23rd. He is no longer a effective shut down player, he currently only has two goals to the season and 5 assists. Considering his former defensive abilities, his current -7 in plus/minus is far too low and is thought to be hurting the team.
He is currently on the 4th line due to his declined play, and centre Maxim Lapierre has moved up to the 3rd line. Malholtra looks like he is struggling to match his play from last year, and it looks like he is slowly getting there. He lost line mate Raffi Torres who wasn’t resigned by the Canucks but he still has Jannik Hansen and the addition of Cody Hodgson. It was nice to see him score a couple goals at the end of November – hopefully it will continue.
A Stanley Cup contending team needs to have great depth – especially with centre men. Unfortunately this depth will only be accomplished if Malholtra’s numbers raise and he plays like he did last season. In Vancouver we love Manny Malholtra and we are incredibly grateful for his recovery, but we also hope he can improve his play.Vancouver still wants the Stanley Cup and to do that all of the Vancouver Canucks need to be playing at their best.
With Malholtra’s injury and long recovery, Canuck fans are wandering if his injury is still affecting him. Or is it simply that he is struggling to get back to his regular self? Comment below!