Why the love affair with Ballard from some posters? Like every other D man, Ballard is expected to do his job competently. In the Canucks system, the first priority of the D is defending. That's why the team led the league in least goals against last year. Of course, that area tends to be Ballard's weak spot! His +/- stats are not to be ignored. Sure, everyone loves his hip-checks, but what about his D zone coverage, let alone his turn-overs?
All that said, I think we may start to see some improvement in his play this season...it better happen, because the guy is definitely on a short leash! I just wonder how coachable he is at this stage of his career.
Do you remember why Bieksa was on the trading block a while ago? It was his defensive play and his turn-overs that were driving the coaches (and fans) crazy! But when he was paired with Hamhuis, we saw that big improvement in his defense! Maybe the same could happen with Ballard. Personally, I think he should be paired with Salo who could be a great influence on his D zone play.
It's not a love affair with Ballard, it's the ridiculous and constant amount of hate from coaches and some posters that prompted this article from TG and rebuttals on this forum. Even Bones has back-pedalled because as much as the coaching staff might still not like him, they need him right now. Tanev is not ready for big minutes and we've seen what happens when Rome and Alberts is asked to play bigger than their roles... not good.
We've all watched the first 5 games, so to toss out +/- numbers at this point to indicate some kind of defensive liability is silly. Bieksa is paired up with Hamhuis exclusively and is a -3, Dan is a +1. We all know how poor Samuelsson is defensively and yet his numbers don't reflect that. If you get caught on the ice while your goaltender is letting in soft, cheesy goals then that doesn't bode well for the other 5 players on the ice. There were two instances in Philly where some guys got minuses from horrible horrible line changes while the Flyers were in transition. Edler has not been good so far this year and was struggling for 27 minutes against Detroit. 27 minutes! Christian Ehrhoff is a team leading worst -3 in 4 games. And Bieksa was Special Kev for 4 years before management considered trading him. If you looked at his minutes during those 4 years, you'll see AV giving Bieksa plenty of chances.
+/- are sometimes not the best indicator... sometimes.
Look, no one is saying Ballard the greatest ever. He is a quality d-man who was not treated properly last year. We all want him to play much better because the truth is, we don't have a choice, we don't have the depth as last year and you know there will be injuries to come. He has been good, not great and we should expect him to be much much better. But so far he has not been worse than some of our other d-men. It's tough to make comparisons though when he hasn't been put in the same situations.