The Canucks have persevered all season dealing with injuries. They’ve lost more than 300 man-games thanks to injuries to numerous defensemen and a handful of forwards. Last night, Manny Malhotra was struck in the face by a shot and had to be tended to immediately. Malhotra is a key member of the team’s third line and one of their better checking forwards.
Today, the Canucks updated his status saying that he had to undergo eye surgery and he’ll be out of the lineup indefinitely. Coach Alain Vigneault said they’ll know better what sort of timetable they can set for him after a couple of days, but for now Vancouver will again have to fill a hole in the lineup from within. They will miss Malhotra’s presence mightily.
Of course, an injury like this leads us to the debate over visors. Many players hate them, but anyone coming up through junior hockey and the AHL now makes it to the NHL wearing one for their entire career up to that point. A day will come when visors become mandatory for the sake of the players (much like it did for helmets in 1979) but for players in the NHL now, they seem to take to visors only after suffering a scare personally. Such is life, but you can see this eventually coming one day.
Vancouver called up Victor Oreskovich from Manitoba in the AHL to fill his spot on the roster. As for how Vancouver’s done this season in spite of injuries, you have to give Vigneault a ton of credit for keeping the team calm, cool, and cranking out wins consistently.
While the Northwest Division hasn’t exactly been great this year, getting the Canucks to both be the first team to clinch a playoff spot this year and win the division is great accomplishment in spite of all the injury problems. Vancouver’s 103 points is best in the NHL by ten over Philadelphia giving the Canucks the clear shot at the Presidents Trophy. If this translates into a Stanley Cup for the Canucks, expect them to erect statues for Vigneault in Vancouver overnight.