Friday, 12 December 2014

Manny Malhotra's null point production so far needs to be taken in context.

Canadiens fans are renowned for being hard to please.  We're now turning our focus to Manny Malhotra’s point production, or lack thereof, now that Alex Galchenyuk at centre or not, and David Desharnais as the #1 centre have been robbed from us as issues.

There’s a very healthy middle ground here. Manny is much more effective as the fourth-line centre than Ryan White or Daniel Brière could have been to fulfill this strict job description. He brought skating and size to the roster, functional size, not George Parros size that sits on the bench. He plays a large role in the team dynamics as a veteran with good communication skills. And of course, the effect he’s had on the faceoff prowess of our team is tangible, significant.

And yes, he shouldn’t be expected to bring in thirty points, not with his recent production. Not with his two most recent full seasons’ tallies being 18 points in 2011-12, and 13 last season.

But on the other hand, a total of zero points to this stage of the season is hard to ignore. It’s a part of his game that he needs to improve on. Maybe he’s in a comfort zone right now, one in which he cheats, but in the unusual way that he cheats towards the defensive side, an anti-Pierre Larouche, or Bizarro-world Nail Yakupov.

In her biography of Pat Burns, Rosie DiManno described how Pat Burns clashed with Guy Carbonneau, challenging him to give him the same level of play defensively, but to not satisfy himself with just that, telling him he needed some offence on top of that. There were bruised egos and ruffled feathers, but Guy responded with his best season in 1988-89 with a 26 goal, 56 point tally.

So maybe Manny can focus a little more on his offence, provide a little more pressure in the offensive zone instead of bailing out too soon, in a single-minded concern for preventing goals. Maybe he can easily tilt the balance a touch and provide some chances for his wingers, without taking away from his defensive priorities.

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