Meds wrote: Terrible effort by Vancouver tonight. Our blueline is a shambles right now. In the last 2 games there have been at least a dozen incidents where an attacking forward has danced right around the Canuck defenseman and gone in for a chance on net. If it was once or twice and Datsuyk or Patrick Kane, well, OK, let it go. But when it is 2nd and 3rd liners, and it's occurring with such frequency, there is a problem.
I am getting more worried as the season gets into the final third about the blueline. Way too much time has been spent on Ballard and not looking at the issues with the others guys on D. Bieksa/Ham/Edler have all looked normal and not to the level needed to win a SC, way too many brain farts and I believe a lot of this has to do with their minutes played
I think this has a lot to do with Rome, Ballard, and Alberts, primarily the former. Ballard is actually capable of playing 18+ minutes a game without being seen as a weakness, but he needs the right partner to do it. For some reason unknown to everyone but Vigneault, Rome is getting 2+ more minutes per game than Ballard. I can't figure it out. Every time Rome gets the puck in our end under pressure he tries to skate with it and make a move with his stick before passing it, he then screws it up. His coverage down low is often suspect, and his play in the offensive zone is beyond poor. He reads badly off the point, is useless on the pinch, and is not a fast enough skater to get back against an odd man rush. Ballard, on the other side of the ice, can skate the puck out under pressure, can rush both ways, is better at rubbing attacking forwards out along the boards with a hip check, makes better passes, and reads offensive zone movement much better. I grant that Ballard does screw up a bit when he tries to skate it out, but no more than anyone else does. Ballard has shown that he plays better when paired with Alberts. Rome has been useless regardless of his defensive partner.
The issue with our 3rd pairing is having a negative effect on our 1st and 2nd duos. Minutes go up and the top 4 get fatigued. Eliminating Rome, giving Ballard (and a different partner) more than 13-14 minutes per game, would probably benefit the entire blueline core.
I would also like to see Ballard get some PP time. Edler is good on the point, but of late I have noticed him struggling to settle the puck at the line, and it often gets by him when it shouldn't. Again, this is likely due to the number of minutes he has been playing.