Some of us have been arguing back and forth about Manny Malhotra's play and whether or not it has been good enough (not only in general but also for his $2.5 million salary) in the comments sections. I'm taking the unpopular stance that he has not been. Why? Because I find his 19-game pointless drought to be both unfortunate and unacceptable. I think his defensive play and faceoff prowess has been excellent. So let's take a closer look at Mr. Malhotra.
Malhotra has won 62.2% of his faceoffs, which is second in the NHL in faceoff winning percentage behind Dave Steckel of Washington. Guillaume Desbiens and Rick Rypien have better faceoff stats than Manny but their sample size is too small. Comically, Tanner Glass is next on the Canucks list with a 57.1% rate (small sample size again) and more realistically, Ryan Kesler trails Money Mo with a 56.7% winning percentage. That's quite a gap there in Malhotra's favor.
Even Strength: Malhotra has won 463 of 742 faceoffs (62.4%). Best in the NHL for wins. Ryan Kesler has won 402 of 705 faceoffs (57.0%).
Power Play: Malhotra has won 36 of 54 faceoffs (66.7%). Ryan Kesler has won 90 of 136 (66.2%).
Shorthanded: Malhotra has won 116 of 192 faceoffs (60.4%). 2nd in the NHL in SH faceoff wins. Kesler has won 71 of 152 draws shorthanded (46.7%).
Like I said, his faceoff prowess is excellent.
Manny is currently a -1 in 55 games played where he was a +17 in 71 games with the Sharks last season. He averaged 15:37 ice time with the Sharks and is averaging 16:30 this season with Vancouver. Sweet Lord do I have to get into CORSI and QUALCOMP for this? No, I don't because not only am I not only not sold on the the whole concept but I also don't fully understand the numbers and I'm not sure if I want to. But if YOU love that stuff here you go. You may not find such favorable results there. Or maybe you will. Even if you did: when does Malhotra face the other teams' top players 5 on 5? Shorthanded, right? What about 5 on 5 where it tends to matter most? Find me those Qualcomp numbers. I'm all ears. Last time I checked Alain Vigneault likes to match top line vs top line 5 on 5.
The kicker. Malhotra has scored 6 goals and 17 points in 55 games this season. That's a 30.9% points-per-game pace. Last season with the Sharks he scored at a 46.5% PPG pace. The season before: a 45.5% PPG pace with Columbus. Now, I know Mike Gillis loved Malhotra's defensive abilities when he acquired him because he said so himself. But I'm sure he wanted about the same points production (30-35 points) from the guy as well. Wouldn't you? I get the whole 3rd line checking role thing, and Manny excels at it. But they also have to contribute offensively once in a while. I'm not pinning Vancouver's Line 3 offensive futility solely on him because Lord knows his longest sidekick Raffi Torres hasn't produced much in the last 19 games either. The 3rd man on that line has been a revolving door so I can't go there without pulling my hair out.
I have been very pleased with Malhotra's defensive game. I am disappointed at his offensive abilities. I know he wants to score and break the slump. You saw his shorthanded breakaway chance against Ottawa (?) and he put it right into the goalie's crest, and he was mightily disappointed. Beyond the checking abilities of line 3 there is no offence and that is unacceptable. This is only the regular season. I'm looking to the playoffs already. If you want to win a Stanley Cup, sometimes your 3rd line has to step up and win a game for you when the top 2 lines fail. It's scoring depth and it matters as the vast majority of former Cup winners has proven. They can be as defensively sound as they want but they HAVE TO chip in offensively. Perhaps that will come.