While the Vancouver Canucks have been dealing with countless injuries along the blue line, the one that may end up hurting them the most is the one to Manny Malhotra. The Canucks announced today that Malhotra will miss the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs after taking a puck to the eye last week. Malhotra had the eye operated on but it’s apparent that whatever has happened to it is damaging enough to keep him off the ice the rest of the way.
Malhotra’s role on the Canucks third line as a defensive forward and face off winner (he’s second in the league at 61.7% behind only David Steckel) is a huge one as he’s been a steady rock on the Canucks grinder line. His contributions offensively aren’t big (11 goals, 19 assists) but they’ve been solid. Malhotra’s role as a shutdown center for opposing forwards is where Vancouver will miss him the most, however.
What might prove to be the bigger dynamic out of this is the case it makes for all players to wear visors. We’ve seen countless players run into problems because they didn’t wear one only to have those incidents change their mind for good. Steve Yzerman, Bryan Berard, and Ian Laperriere all come to mind immediately and whether it was from a wayward stick or a puck to the eye, those players all came back from their situations to throw their support fully in favor of using them.
As it is, the NHL has no rules on whether or not to wear a visor as it’s at the players discretion. All junior hockey, college hockey, and the AHL have rules about protecting the eyes or face at those levels. With the NHL having no rules about it makes it rather stunning the use of visors hasn’t gone the way they did when the league made helmets mandatory in 1979. At the very least, grandfathering in those players who wish to take a risk with their health should be made the rule. Any players that come to the NHL through the AHL has to wear a visor at that level, them taking it off upon reaching the pros seems reckless.
As for how the Canucks fill Malhotra’s role, the pressure shifts to Maxim Lapierre to grow up and play a stronger game up the middle. Without a strong presence there, the Canucks are significantly weakened defensively. They’ve been able to overcome injuries all season long, but this is one that’s tougher to handle since they don’t quite have the same depth up the middle as they do on defense.
The Nashville Predators have been on a roll lately, and keeping Peter Laviolette around seems like it keeps things going in a positive direction.
The team announced a two-year contract extension for Laviolette during Saturday’s State of the Union event.
During his first two seasons behind the bench in Nashville, the Predators have managed two playoff berths, beating the Anaheim Ducks in the first round during this last postseason trip. The Predators have managed to stay competitive in the Central Division, which is no small task.
With P.K. Subban added to the mix, it makes great sense to retain Laviolette’s surfaces. You never know how a situation will work until it plays out, yet on paper, his system seems like a seamless fit for the star defender.
Nashville’s shown some promise already under Laviolette’s watch, particularly in quietly putting up some promising possession stats. At this moment in time, the future looks even brighter.
It can’t hurt that the guy has a Stanley Cup on his resume, either.
As difficult as it is to believe, it’s October already. You know what that means*; hockey season is rapidly approaching.
Along with stories about guys who might still be a little injured claiming they’re “100 percent” and teams carrying in optimism that will eventually look foolish, we also get fun stuff like new goalie masks.
We’d already seen Petr Mrazek pay tribute to Joe Louis Arena a month ago, but with the preseason in high gear, we’re seeing more masks.
While there will likely be some other fun entries before the games start to count in 2016-17, PHT is kindly saving your delicate fingers a few extra clicks by collecting a few choice masks in one post.
To start things off, Michal Neuvirth paid tribute to late Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider:
This Miami Herald video shares Roberto Luongo‘s very-cool concept: the old Panthers cat on one side, the new one on the other. Here’s a shot from George Richards:
(Anyone else get a little John Vanbiesbrouck nostalgia from that lid?)
Thankfully, no birds were harmed in the making of Louis Domingue‘s mask, which features Arizona sports figures from Randy Johnson to more obvious Coyotes choices:
Nitpick: Steve Nash’s hair could have been floppier. Just saying.
Finally, hockey and Seinfeld once again mix better than a black-and-white cookie in Scott Wedgewood’s mask, which features a Puddy reference:
If you want more goalie masks, DaveArt.com’s list should keep you entertained for some time.
* – Barring all-too-frequent lockouts.
Evgeni Malkin is back in Penguins training camp after a stint with Team Russia at the World Cup.
Malkin and his team reached the tournament’s semifinal before being knocked out by the eventual champions, Team Canada.
The Pens forward collected three points in four games, but he wasn’t satisfied by his overall performance.
“I need to start now,” Malkin said on Saturday, per the Tribune. “I’m not playing great. I’m not happy with my game at the World Cup. I will play better here and now.”
When he’s at his best, Malkin is fully capable of taking over games. That’s easier said than done in a best-on-best tournament, but those are the standards he’s set for himself.
So, what does he have to do to get back to that elite level?
“Play more with the puck. That’s my game always, if I have the puck and I spend more time with the puck. The last four, five games in the World Cup, I tried to use my partners, but my confidence when I play with the puck.”
The 30-year-old dealt with some injuries last year, but still managed to produce 58 points in 57 games during the regular season and 18 points in 23 games during Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup playoff run.
KHL hockey is still relatively new in China and it showed prior to Kunlun Red Star’s game against Lada Togliatti earlier this week.
Prior to the game, the team organized a ceremonial puck drop, which ended up being a little awkward to say the least.
You can watch the entire thing by clicking the video at the top of the page.
That’s pretty funny!
The awkward look the two captains gave each other was priceless too.