The defensive pairings for Wednesday night’s preseason tilt with the Anaheim Ducks have been released, and they are as follows: Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler and Sami Salo, and Chris Tanev with Andrew Alberts. Needless to say, this group bears a strong resemblance to what we can expect to see on opening night. Hamhuis and Bieksa, last season’s standout pair, are back together, and Alex Edler and Sami Salo, the presumed second unit, are paired as well.

But, bearing the implications in mind, there is one suspicious absence from the six-man unit: Keith Ballard, for whom a fresh start was promised. Is this evidence that the promise was somewhat exaggerated? Tony Gallagher seems to think so.

To be honest, Ballard’s absence does raise a few red flags, especially considering that everything else about this top six looks the way we expect it to come October 6th. Heck, even Alain Vigneault has to be aware of how this appears. One wonders if he’s intentionally trolling the media through his lineup decisions.

That said, it wouldn’t be wise to read too much into the pairings. The decision to sit Ballard is about the three preseason games for which he’s already dressed, not the opening night game for which he might not.

Frankly, I would be more inclined to question things if Alain Vigneault had treated Ballard like the other vets and held him out of action until tonight. A large part of Ballard’s problem last season was that he never quite got his legs under him after being slowed by summer hip surgery. Considering he didn’t play much last June, he can’t be as in need of rest as the rest of the veterans, so why not ensure that, this year, Ballard is at full speed when he gets his chance to play with them?

Keith Ballard’s front-loaded preseason schedule, like Cody Hodgson’s, has been about giving him a genuine opportunity to make the team, not the opposite.

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8 comments

  1. Wisp
    September 28, 2011

    Tony Gallagher is bad for us – “us” as in Canucks culture as a whole. I really wish he’d retire. He’s getting worse as time goes on.

    Seen his recent article on Edler? Ugh. Old Ghoul.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      September 28, 2011

      Dude, we need a guy like Gallagher. Otherwise, who will we disagree with?

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      • Noodle
        September 28, 2011

        True. But he also makes Canuck nation look bad. It’s weird when one of your media is a member of the tin foil hat brigade.

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  2. SteveB
    September 28, 2011

    “Dude, we need a guy like Gallagher. Otherwise, who will we disagree with?”
    Dan Russell? :-p

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  3. George Stevens
    September 28, 2011

    I can’t believe that Tony G is reading into the actions of Alain V. How off-character of him.

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  4. Jezz
    September 28, 2011

    Lappy’s not in the lineup either. Perhaps it has more to do with balancing ice-time than some Highlander-style immortal loathing, manifest now on this strange plane of ice-hockey club politics?

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    • Daniel Wagner
      September 28, 2011

      What a shocking and entirely unlikely suggestion. How could you even suggest something so preposterous? You should be ashamed of yourself. Don’t you know that Canucks fans are not allowed to be reasonable?

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  5. tom
    September 29, 2011

    yes, thank you, that`s right. even when Gallagher retires, we`ll still have Dan `contrary` Russel.

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