January 29 2012 09:23PM
Hodgson and Malhotra are pals, not interchangeable pieces.
According to senior Sportsnet columnist Mark Spector, Canucks prospect Cody Hodgson has walked away with Manny Malhotra’s job. Is this true?
You have to believe GM Mike Gillis would move Manny Malhotra, whose job has been claimed by Cody Hodgson. But with 13 points and a minus-7 this season, we are sad to come to the accepted conclusion that Malhotra’s game has simply not returned in whole after the serious eye injury he suffered last season.
Of course, to answer whether or not Cody Hodgson has stolen Manny Malhotra’s job, we first need to understand what Malhotra’s job is.
One of Malhotra’s primary jobs, as anyone who has watched more than one or two Canucks games this year knows, is to take defensive zone faceoffs. How do the Canucks’ primary faceoff men rank in terms of defensive zone starts?
- Manny Malhotra – starts in the defensive zone 87.8% of the time
- Maxim Lapierre – starts in the defensive zone 83.0% of the time
- Cody Hodgson – starts in the defensive zone 51.4% of the time
- Ryan Kesler – starts in the defensive zone 51.2% of the time
- Henrik Sedin – starts in the defensive zone 20.9% of the time
There are three groups here: Henrik Sedin, who starts exclusively in the offensive zone, Kesler/Hodgson, who get a combination of offensive/defensive zone duties, and Malhotra/Lapierre, who start exclusively in their own end of the rink. Interestingly, among forwards with more than 20 games played, nobody in the league starts more in his own end of the ice than Manny Malhotra – in fact, the next nearest non-Canuck starts less than half as many starts (percentage-wise) in the defensive end.
Alain Vigneault has adopted a radical strategy that an alarming percentage of NHL media have yet to grasp: he has specific offensive-zone and defensive-zone units, guys that start in their own end or the opponent’s end of the ice more than anybody else in the league. It’s been that way for years now – other coaches do it, but nobody with as much dedication as Vigneault.
Of course, that’s not all of Malhotra’s game. He also kills penalties. Here are Vancouver’s primary centers, ranked by penalty-killing ice-time per game:
- Manny Malhotra: 2:36
- Ryan Kesler: 2:13
- Max Lapierre: 1:23
- Henrik Sedin: 0:06
- Cody Hodgson: 0:00
Then, there’s the whole ‘winning faceoffs’ thing that Malhotra does. Here are Vancouver’s primary centers, ranked by their faceoff percentage:
- Manny Malhotra: 57.7%
- Ryan Kesler: 54.1%
- Max Lapierre: 53.0%
- Henrik Sedin: 48.8%
- Cody Hodgson: 41.2%
So, to summarize: Manny Malhotra is a defensive-zone specialist at even-strength, a penalty-killing specialist, and one of the league’s greatest faceoff men. He has supposedly lost his job taking defensive zone draws, killing penalties and winning faceoffs to Cody Hodgson, who a) doesn’t take defensive zone draws b) doesn’t kill penalties and c) doesn’t win faceoffs.
They aren’t remotely comparable players. They’re doing entirely different things. The idea that Vancouver is shopping Malhotra because Hodgson has replaced him is entirely without substance.