March 17, 2011
The first concern with Manny Malhotra(notes) is, obviously, Manny Malhotra. He was hit in the eye with a puck on Wednesday night, and then needed surgery. He'll be re-evaluated by a specialist soon, when the extent of the injury will be better known.
The secondary concern is what his absence will mean for the Canucks in their Stanley Cup run, because he's been an essential piece of the puzzle. Via Jason Botchford of The Province:
If you're going to make a list of players who are the most difficult for the Canucks to replace in the playoffs, you can put Malhotra fourth, behind only the Sedins and Ryan Kesler(notes). He is second in the NHL at faceoffs, and leads all Canucks in shorthanded minutes. He's considered the biggest reason the Canucks penalty killing went from 18th last year to 2nd this year.
Malhotra averages 2:45 per game shorthanded, tops among forwards. A prolonged absence would likely mean greater defensive responsibility for Ryan Kesler in key situations; nice to have probable Selke winner to fall back on.
Injuries to key players are nothing new to Vancouver this season, of course. But this one could sting if Malhotra misses significant time.