Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Ballard Healthy Scratch as Road Trip Begins in Montreal

The Canucks will start their five game eastern road trip in Montreal with Keith Ballard in the press box. With Dan Hamhuis set to return from his foot injury and Aaron Rome playing the best hockey of his career, the struggling Ballard is the odd man out.

Ballard struggled in training camp, but got off to a decent start when the regular season began. Unfortunately missing 5 games with a concussion has set Ballard back, something which he readily admits. "I haven't played well enough... I've probably played games when I should have been scratched. I'm disappointed, but there are a lot more important things than my feelings." Kudos to Ballard for dealing with the situation with class. He knows he needs to get better and the Canucks are going to do everything they can to get him back to the level of play he is capable of.

The Canucks need Ballard to get his game together, not only because of his salary and the price the Canucks paid to acquire him, but because he is a much better defenseman than he has shown so far. Both Aaron Rome and Andrew Alberts have taken their game to a new level, but as their ice time goes over the 15:00 mark the limits in their abilities start to get exposed. You can handle that in November, but come April it's another story.

Canuck Notes:

  • With 5 goals and an assist in 4 games Raffi Torres was named the NHL's first star of the week. Since being reunited with Jannik Hansen the third line has hit their stride and have played exceptionally well. Manny Malhotra is earning every dollar of his contract and is probably the best 3rd line centre in the NHL right now. The quality of the third line is a big reason why the Canucks are not only a Stanley Cup contender, but also a favourite.
  • Cody Hogdson continues to improve with 3 goals and an assist over the weekend for the Manitoba Moose. After early season struggles Hogdson is now tied with Shirokov for the team lead in scoring with 6 goals and 3 assists in 13 games.
  • While the third line has been thriving the second has not. Kesler had a great game on Saturday and Samuelsson finally got his second goal, but Raymond isn't playing up to the level he is capable. All three can be better as a unit.
  • Finally, Canucks GM Mike Gillis is now on Twitter. You can follow Gillis @GMMikeGillis. While you're at it follow @TheCanuckFan as well.