Chris Tanev’s promotion has come at the cost of Keith Ballard

When Kevin Bieksa went down with a groin injury, Andrew Alberts came in to play his first two games of the season. Surprisingly, when he returned, Alberts stayed in the lineup and Keith Ballard came out. Then, when Bieksa couldn’t go against Calgary, Cam Barker drew in to the lineup for his first game of the season, while Ballard remained in the press box.

It’s a decision that doesn’t make a lot of sense on the surface. Ballard is a better player than Alberts and Barker and was playing with newfound consistency to start the season. His pairing with Chris Tanev was playing fairly sheltered minutes, but was getting good results, to the point that he and Tanev remained together when Vigneault and Bowness started juggling defence pairs 5 games in.

That pairing has been split up recently, however, as Tanev has begun to take on a larger role in the Canucks’ defence corps. While Tanev excels, however, Ballard has found his ice time steadily declining and it now appears that Ballard is back at the bottom of the Canucks’ defensive depth chart.

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The Canucks’ plan for Alex Edler’s right side appears to be Alex Edler, and it’s a bad plan

It would appear that the T.C. Williams High football program isn’t the only team obsessed with bolstering their left side. The Vancouver Canucks, too, have had an overflow of left-handed defencemen the past three seasons, and yet they went out and paid nearly $30 million for another this summer.

The Canucks succeeded with a surfeit of lefties in 2010-11 because Christian Ehrhoff was capable of playing his off-side. But when he left for Buffalo, the team discovered how rare Ehrhoff’s painless transition was. Keith Ballard couldn’t do it at all, and his inability to play with his stick (and left hip) away from the boards left him behind Dan Hamhuis and Alex Edler on the depth chart. Edler couldn’t do it either, and when Sami Salo regressed right out of the top four in January, the Canucks found themselves one right-sider short. We pegged addressing this deficit as Vancouver’s major offseason need.

Instead, the Canucks paid $27.6 million for six years of left-handed Jason Garrison. Now, Garrison spent much of last season in Florida paired with another lefty in Brian Campbell, occasionally playing Campbell’s right side, so we were confident that the Canuck scouts saw enough to be at least semi-confident in his ability to go “the full Ehrhoff”.

Apparently not.

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Canucks 1 – 3 Predators Yesterday, someone told me that, considering Vancouver’s injury troubles, the Canucks had to try for a 6-5 or 8-7 victory, but that was never realistic. The Canucks’ defencemen aren’t just counted on for defense; they also facilitate breakout passes and jump into rushes. They’re also the linchpin of the Canucks’ [...]

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Yann Sauve started the season in the hospital after losing a fight with an automobile prior to training camp. He then played 8 games with the Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL before evolving from fish to mammal to join the Manitoba Moose of the AHL. Now, in the wake of a metric whackload of [...]

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