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Vancouver defense continues its disconcerting shuffles as Chris Tanev replaces Keith Ballard

Jun 10, 2011, 1:46 PM EDT

Dan Hamhuis, Troy Brouwer, Roberto Luongo AP

While Roberto Luongo‘s struggles are well-documented, there is a more disturbing reality brimming underneath the surface for the Vancouver Canucks. After rolling with injury-related punches to their defensive corps time and time again during the regular season, it seems like Vancouver’s D is finally stumbling from repeated postseason body blows.

The hope was that handsomely paid seventh defenseman Keith Ballard would be able to save the day or at least stop the bleeding. Instead, the hip checking maestro was a turnover machine (and not delicious apple turnovers either, sadly).

If you wanted any more proof that Canucks coach Alain Vigneault doesn’t trust Ballard in the playoffs, today’s lineup note will drive that point home. Unproven rookie Chris Taven will take his place in the lineup for Game 5, according to Darren Dreger.

This basically breaks the Canucks defense down to: Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler, Sami Salo, Christian Ehrhoff, Andrew Alberts and Tanev. When remotely healthy, the strength of Vancouver’s defense was that there wasn’t a particularly rotten apple in the bunch. The sum was greater than their individual parts. Now their defense seems like a “Sum of All Fears” for especially distraught Canucks fans.

Things seem downright dire on D now with crucial defensive defenseman Dan Hamhuis injured and marginal (yet Vigneault-approved?) blueliner Aaron Rome suspended for the finals plus the many semi-documented injuries to active defensemen. The Bruins were able to exploit matchup problems thanks to the last change in Boston, but maybe the Canucks can survive by masking their deficiencies in Vancouver.

Going into this series, it seemed like the Canucks were the obvious favorites. Yet with Ryan Kesler seemingly banged up, the Sedin twins often bottled up by Boston, Luongo faltering and their defense in shambles, it’s tough to deny the notion that the Bruins are the more stable group. We’ll see if the Canucks can get things back together, but they’ll have to overcome their own makeshift defense and some troubling issues to do so.

  1. Chris Ross - Jun 10, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    I’m amazed that Vigneault would choose to do this. Obviously Ballard has no hope of coming back in this series now, unless someone else gets hurt. It’s unbelievable that a tiny rookie is being thrown into the fire in such a physical SCF. I think Ballard should be inserted with Tanev. They showed they can play well together and it might give Ballard some confidence if he played with someone he has succeeded with during the playoffs and regular season.

    http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/trip-back-in-time-killing-canucks/

    • James O'Brien - Jun 10, 2011 at 4:29 PM

      I’d guess that Tanev/Alberts probably won’t get much playing time, but naturally that will mean this game will probably go to overtime then. It’s funny how hockey works sometimes.

  2. deepthreat - Jun 10, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    I just heard that Hamhuis has a ruptured testicle.
    Not trying to be funny or tweak Canuck fans.
    Heard it on 98.5 FM in Boston

    • James O'Brien - Jun 10, 2011 at 4:28 PM

      There were rumors that he had a groin injury, so perhaps that report has some credence.

      Either way, ouch.

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