Most injured players are banished from the group come playoff time, lest they be distractions to healthy players at the most important time of the year.
But the Vancouver Canucks have taken an entirely different tact with centre Manny Malhotra, who has been out since March 16 with a serious eye injury that has required two surgeries to save his vision. Thursday, Malhotra skated with his teammates briefly, but he has been very much a part of Vancouver's game-planning in series wins over the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators.
Expect that to continue, if not intensify, because Malhotra spent the 2009-10 season with San Jose and should have some valuable counter intelligence for his Vancouver teammates.
"He's been a big help to us off the ice," said Canucks captain Henrik Sedin, who has said that Malhotra sees the game like a coach. "He sees the game from upstairs, and he sees the small things: face-offs, PK [penalty-killing] He's been really good for us."
Malhotra has picked up subtleties, such as prior to Game 4 of the Nashville series, when he told defenceman Christian Ehrhoff to use a snapshot, not a slap shot, when manning the point on the power play. Ehrhoff wound up scoring on that advice, beating Pekka Rinne with a snapshot in a 4-2 Canucks victory.