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Canucks make Malhotra healthy scratch for first time

Mar 21, 2012, 4:52 PM EDT

Manny Malhotra 2

According to Jim Jamieson of the Vancouver Province, Manny Malhotra will be a healthy scratch for the first time in his Canucks career tonight when Vancouver takes on Chicago at the United Center.

Malhotra, an excellent shut-down player last season, suffered a serious eye injury a year ago and missed much of his summer training due to several surgical procedures on the eye.

He’s struggled to regain last season’s high level, but has still been good in the face-off circle. He’s fifth in the NHL in face-off winning percentage, at 58.2 per cent. On Monday in Minnesota, Malhotra was three for six, all in the defensive zone, and lost a draw to Kyle Brodziak on a Wild power play just prior to Erik Christensen‘s opening goal.

Malhotra said he was fine physically. “They’re just trying different things, giving guys some looks,” he said.

There are a few ways of looking at this lineup decision:

1) It was simply Malhotra’s turn, just like it was Mason Raymond‘s turn on Tuesday. Raymond was a healthy scratch in Vancouver’s 2-0 loss to Minnesota — the first time in three years he’d been a healthy scratch — after going pointless in eight games, frustrating head coach Alain Vigneault.

2) This isn’t actually Malhotra’s first healthy scratch. Malhotra was held out of the lineup last week against Columbus and Phoenix for “personal reasons”, believed to be in relation to the one-year anniversary of his eye injury.

We say ‘believed’ because Malhotra wouldn’t discuss the situation.

“There’s no need to elaborate,” he said of his absence. “Things are fine and I’m ready to get back to work. I feel good. I’m ready to go.”

It’s possible Vancouver held Malhotra out of the lineup under the guise of “personal reasons” to prevent publicly embarrassing one of its alternate captains. Of course, this conspiracy theory is ripe for hole-poking. Why would they keep from embarrassing him then, only to embarrass him a week later?

And really, how tumultuous would scratching an alternate captain be? Dale Hunter’s benched Mike Knuble a whole bunch of times, and those two seem to get along great.

  1. davebabychreturns - Mar 21, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    It’s a situation that merits… keeping an eye on.

    • habsman - Mar 21, 2012 at 5:52 PM

      Not funny.

      • kitshky - Mar 21, 2012 at 7:08 PM

        its a lil funny….

        (thats better)

      • davebabychreturns - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:34 PM

        Sorry, I forgot about how comments sections on the internet are bastions of class and good taste.

        Anyway if you want a serious response here goes – Malhotra has done pretty well as arguably the most specialized player in the league this year, and a good thing too because he is not the player he once was. As for the scratch it’s obvious from the team’s general checked-outness that wining every game down the stretch is not the priority.. staying ready for the playoffs is. As such it’s not too surprising to see AV shuffle the lineup, he’s going to need to know what he’s got to work with when injuries start thinning out the roster.

      • habsman - Mar 21, 2012 at 11:07 PM

        I usually enjoy your posts, but that one was inappropriate and I think you realize it.

  2. taytay099 - Mar 21, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Manny seems like the type to handle it like a pro.

  3. scottybcboy - Mar 21, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    I was a big supporter of the signing, but he hasn’t been the same player since the injury.
    Hate to say it, but……..long overdue.

  4. t16rich - Mar 21, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    I was at game 2 of the Cup when he returned. It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen because none of the fans were sure if he would be in the roster that night, I believe him and Glass both warmed up and Glass got scratched. So when the game was ready to start the Canucks came out and Schneider was last, until Manny came out and the building during Manny’s entrance to the ice was as spine chilling as it could have gotten. Awesome. I am not opposed to this though, and Manny’s a team guy so I don’t see him getting bent out of shape or causing a stir. He’s mature, he will handle exactly like his brother in law handled the NBA trade deadline.

  5. ikillchicken - Mar 22, 2012 at 1:36 AM

    Malhotra is a class act all around. I hate to see him out of the lineup. He just hasn’t been the same since his injury though. This is the right move.

  6. firstandonlywarning - Mar 22, 2012 at 2:57 AM

    Ummm older players getting rested for the playoffs?

    Welcome to the NHL

    Manny won’t miss a SINGLE game in the playoffs

    • firstandonlywarning - Mar 22, 2012 at 2:59 AM

      Seriously if anyone thinks he will be a scratch during the playoffs

      Stop watching hockey, its not the sport for you, you haven’t a clue

      He will be out there on every single important draw

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