I've got a bit of a conspiracy theory, probably will get grilled for it, but I don't care. I'll share it anways, just a theory.
I noticed that ever since Malhotra was pushed out, the team's play did drop a bit. MM was a leader on the team, was popular in the room and brought some savy to the team (especially on the faceoff dot). Maybe the team the misses him and is a lil disheartened with the way it played out. Afterall, the puck in the eye could of happened to any of those guys and if they were pushed out like that, it would really be the shitz for any one of those guys. I think we miss him on the ice too, especially with Kes out. MM and Lap-Dawg really worked well together on the #3 and #4 centre spot. MM was a solid vet with alot of xp and great on dot; Lap-Dawg is a hard-working guy with grit and energy to his game. Without MM, Lap-dawg has to take most of the defensive zone faceoffs and is needed to play some inportant shut down situations. I think most would agree that Lap-Dawg is struggling right now and is in over his head.
Theory aside, maybe we are failing to mention the most obvious thing that us as fans hate to admit or say, maybe this team has past it's time.
We all know this team reached it's pinnacle in 2011. Sedin's were in their primes, we had amazing depth throughout the lineup: Ehrhoff, Salo, Rome. We basically made it to the finals without some key players like Malhotra, Samuelsson and Ballard (paid to be a key player anyways). We missed our chance, that was our best team to win a cup and we'll never have a team that good for long time.
Right now, the whole team is in a funk. The sedins seem to be on the decline and will probably never be all-stars again, we're really hurtin at centre ice (especially with Kes and MM out) and we can't find any consistency in our defensive pairings. Also, we have 2 great goalies, but we can only play 1 of them at a time and even they can't make up for the poor play in front of them.
I really hope this team will get out of it's funk. We already at the half-way mark. We're barely hanging on to a playoff spot and Minny tied us for the division lead. We really don't want to lose the division title and be among the bottom teams battling for the 6th-7th-8th playoff spots. It's such a crap shoot there, hit n miss, losing control of your own destiny. I'd hate to believe that just 2 years ago, this team was a serious cup contender and now can't even make the playoffs. I think for the time being, MG has to go out and get someone to help out @ centre ice. Doesn't have to be a big name guy, even a rental guy to help out just till Kes comes back. I noticed Ebbett was called up today, good move, but it's not enuff. Despite the current slide, I hope the Nucks will still make the playoffs. The team is showing signs that they're not a strong cup contender anymore even with a healthy lineup and I doubt we'll get anything significant with the Luongo asset (at least not for this season). Even though we're not a top team anymore, I hope we can still make the playoffs and maybe last a couple rounds with a hot player and some lucky bounces.