by PuckStopsHere on 05/24/11 at 12:38 AM ET
A big part of the reason that the Vancouver Canucks led the NHL in goals in the regular season was their ability to get their best offensive players into the offensive situations. Daniel and Henrik Sedin have some of the highest offensive zone start totals in the last several years. Ryan Kesler was their next best offensive player who had played a strong defensive role in the past. This season, he played a more offensive role. It was Manny Malhotra who played the toughest defensive role for the Canucks. He played it so well that I think he should be a Selke Trophy nominee.
The Canucks signing of Malhotra last summer was very important. It allowed their best offensive players to play in more offensive situations than they had in the past. Malhotra could lead the NHL in defensive zone starts and do a good job at it.
The problem was that late in the season he suffered an eye injury. It has kept him out of the playoffs so far. He is practising in full gear so there is some speculation that he may be back before the playoffs end, but that is uncertain.
When Malhotra got hurt it was a serious question who would fill his ice time. Either the Canucks would weaken their offence by using their offensive players in more defensive roles or they would have to find another player to use as their top defensive centre. This was an unsettling question for the Vancouver Canucks.
It took a bit of time before there was a clear solution to the question. We now know the answer. Maxim Lapierre has largely taken over the Manny Malhotra role. Lapierre currently has the most defensive zone starts (minus offensive ones) in the playoffs. He has done well for the Canucks in that role. He has allowed Kesler and the Sedins to play the offensive roles they held in the regular season.
Maxim Lapierre has been a big part of the Vancouver Canuck playoff success and one that has not had much media publicity. He has been able to play a very tough defensive role successfully and thus allowed the best offensive players on the team to play roles that maximize their offensive potential.
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