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Keith Ballard and Andrew Alberts are likely replacements for Christian Ehrhoff, Aaron Rome

May 22, 2011, 1:22 PM EDT

Jordin Tootoo, Keith Ballard AP

The Vancouver Canucks’ 4-3 loss to San Jose in Game 3 hurt them in ways beyond defeat. It looks that game also cost them two defensemen: hard-shooting former Shark Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome. The Canucks have three major options to replace that duo: Keith Ballard, Andrew Alberts and rookie Chris Tanev.

We might not know for sure until game time, but considering the importance of this Game 4* on such a large stage, the smart money is on Ballard and Alberts taking Ehrhoff and Rome’s spots.

The Canucks dealt with a litany of injuries during the regular season, yet they still managed to run away with the Presidents Trophy in 2010-11. We’ll see if they can do the same against the Sharks.

Replacing Alberts for Rome isn’t an enormous downgrade, although Alberts occasionally ranks as a goat among Vancouver fans. The bigger loss is Ehrhoff, a defenseman who has been a nice surprise for the Canucks since he was traded from San Jose. Dan Boyle is the only defenseman with more more playoff points (15) than Ehrhoff’s impressive 11. Ballard has been a bit of a letdown since being traded to the Canucks from the Florida Panthers last summer, something the well-paid defenseman admitted to the Vancouver Province.

Fair or unfair, that’s the reality I’m faced with on mistakes,” he says. “Some guys like Hank and Danny can turn the puck over but because they’re putting up 100 points they’re obviously going to get more room and mistakes may not affect them as much. There’s not a lot of room for error for me, that’s the bottom line.”

(snip)

“I’m a better player than I was in Florida,” says Ballard. “I’m sure I can still play very well in this league. My confidence . . . it’s the one thing I haven’t lost.”

The Canucks made a big investment in the Ballard trade, sending Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier and a first round pick to Florida for the defenseman and Victor Oreskovich. That deal hasn’t really paid off for Vancouver, but if Ballard can do a solid job while essentially replacing Ehrhoff, then maybe it was worth it after all.

* – Which you can watch on NBC at 3 p.m. ET today, by the way.

  1. thisnameavailable - May 22, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    Vancouver bought alot of players, especially on defense, in last summer’s off season, to cover themselves in case of injury. I guess the strategy is working so far. They are a deep team. You can tell the 40 years of frustration is affecting the whole organization. I’ve never seen a team or fanbase snivvle as much as the Canucks do. I don’t see alot of integrity on Vancouver. With the exception of Manny Malhotra, their team and fanbase is a bunch of crybabies who have a set of rules for themselves and one for everyone else. If the league lets their opponents play the game and stop’s babying them they won’t win the Cup this season.

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