*Sighs heavily* - Paul Bereswill
It came completely out of left field. The news that not only was Manny Malhotra's season coming to an end, but that it could also mean the end of his career was a shock. Forget so called goalie controversies, this is something that is going to have a real impact on the team. Losing such a skilled defensive player, even if he was a shadow of his former self will have a ripple effect, but could the return of Ryan Kesler offset this? I'll say this, his timing couldn't be better.
The Canucks are back in action tonight, and while the return of Aaron Rome is an amusing sub-plot (and will be the reason for many lame AV/Rome romance related jokes clogging up the cesspool that is Twitter), the return of the Keslordian one and the hole in the lineup left by the departure of Manny Malhotra will be what most will keeping an eye on tonight. Oh yeah, and apparently there's some guy who plays for Dallas... Jagr? Anyone know about this dude? Can't even recall seeing him on the ice at Rogers Arena (or the Coliseum, for that matter, but more on that later).
The loss of Manny Malhotra, defensive specialist, faceoff genius and penalty killer would be tough enough for any team to take. But it's the loss of the guy on the bench and in the room that could be the most devastating to the Canucks. An inspirational leader for the team, his return to the team during the Stanley Cup Finals was truly something to behold. He is admired and yes, revered by his teammates for his work ethic and perseverance, coming back from an injury that would have forced many, especially at that stage in their careers, to retire. Fortunately the team plans on keeping him close to the team, and some feel he could take on the role of a coach of sorts, much like he did during his time off after the injury, being involved in special teams meetings, etc.
As for Ryan Kesler, his return to the team is far more than just negating a need for a call up from the Wolves. The team's 2nd line center is back, and along with it the leadership and intensity he brings. What remains to be seen is just how long it will take him to get back to his regular form. He'll be centering Zack Kassian and Chris Higgins, but given AV's penchant for line juggling who knows how long this will remain. It's nice to see Higgins, who's been quietly solid for the Canucks get a nod and promotion to the 2nd line. Jordan Schroeder will again be centering the speedy 3rd line between Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen, while Maxim Lapierre is slotted between Dale Weise and Aaron Volpatti.
Dallas will be starting Kari Lehtonen in goal tonight, and if past performance is anything to go on, this is good news for the Canucks. Lehtonen's 2-7-0 lifetime against Vancouver with a 3.69 GAA and .879 save %. That should help Henrik Sedin hopefully as he tries once again to tie and pass Markus Naslund to become the Canucks all-time leading scorer. The Canucks will have their hands full with Dallas' top line of Brendan Morrow, Victoria native Jamie Benn and Jaromir Jagr. As mentioned earlier, Canucks fans haven't gotten too many opportunities to see this future hall of famer, with Jagr making his 3rd appearance on Vancouver ice since the year 2000, and his first since 2008. It's a testament to the misguided scheduling policies of the NHL who believes fans out here would rather watch our boys play games like Tuesday night against the dreadful Minnesota Wild than teams from the Eastern Conference, where Jagr's spent his entire career til signing with the Stars in the off-season. It's a disgrace.
KICKASS METAL TUNE OF THE DAY
Taking a bit of a change in direction with the KMTOTD, I wanted to bring you some of my favorite metal cover tunes, and we'll start with a double shot of bands with their take of the Suicidal Tendencies classic 'War Inside My Head'. The first one is Finland's Children Of Bodom from their covers album 'Skeletons In The Closet', while the 2nd features Anthrax taking a crack at it live. They used to this song a lot live, and I used to have an old Metallica bootleg tape that had it tagged onto the end (who knows why they did stuff like that, as it wasn't even labelled on the liner notes. Man I miss those days...). I might be wrong, but I believe this may actually be the show it was taken from. Anyway, I will have tons of awesome and interesting covers to come the rest of the season for ya, so enjoy!