Yesterday we ranked the Canucks’ forwards based on their performance up to the All-Star Break. Today it’s the defense and goalies’ turns to get Crosschecked as we do a quickfire analysis of their season thus far.
Kevin Bieksa (B-)
One of the players hurt most by the mediocre start to the season, Bieksa has been an offensive stud as of late. Averaging a team high 23:34 minutes per game with 22 points in his last 33 games, Bieksa appears to be back to his true self. Unfortunately this means he still makes some boneheaded defensive plays, ones that will cost him and the team in the playoffs if he doesn’t focus.
Dan Hamhuis (A-)
Hamhuis has been nothing if not consistent this season. He’s been a reliable defenseman in all aspects and situations of the game. Whether it be a precision pass or a vital blocked shot, he has been one of the Canucks’ most dependable players this season.
Alexander Edler (A)
Ehrhoff who? Edler has quickly filled the void that was left by Ehrhoff and has evolved into the player many hoped that he could become. In addition to supplying some steady defense, he’s also become a viable source of offense; in fact, should he keep up his current production rate and finish with 56 points, he’d have the second most points by a Canucks defenseman in a season, the most since Jyrki Lumme put up 55 in the ’93-94 season.
Sami Salo (B+)
All injury jokes aside, Salo has been a pretty healthy guy. Ignoring the concussion he undeservingly received from Marchand, he’s only missed 4 games this season. A constant offensive threat, Salo often requires the attention of opposing players meaning other Canucks are left open. It’s one of the subtle impacts he has on the game that benefits the Canucks.
Aaron Rome (C+)
Lightning in a bottle seems like the perfect way to describe Rome’s seasons thus far. Since a 5 point outburst in his first three games Rome has, wait for it… 2 assists in his last 15 games. It’s safe to not expect much more offensive output from Rome, but to be fair he has been alright defensively.
Keith Ballard (C-)
Quite possibly the biggest headscratcher on the back end, Ballard has unfortunately not panned out for the Canucks. It remains to be seen whether or not he’s just in a bad situation, however the fact remains that Ballard has 4.2 million reasons to succeed and he has simply underperformed. He’s a talented player, exemplified by the occasional end-to-end rush; he just needs to find his game.
Andrew Alberts (C)
The epitome of the 7th defenseman, Alberts has neither shone nor played himself off the team. His size has been both a boon and a curse as he benefits from a long reach, but is often caught chasing the puck.
Roberto Luongo (A-)
Luongo’s predictably awful October was made even worse by the entire team’s mediocre performance until the end of November. Since then however, Luongo has played with the goaltending brilliance that brought the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals. The only other qualm about his play has to be his inconsistency in the shootout. We’ve seen him be great (recently versus Edmonton) and we’ve seen him be, well… less than admirable (December 13th against Columbus). Luckily there are no shootouts in the playoffs.
Cory Schneider (A)
Once again, Schneider is proving that he is made for the NHL with some stellar performances, proving last seasons back-up excellence was no fluke. While his record may not indicate the dominance he has shown in games (due in part to some lackluster performances by the players in front of him), Schneider continues to be a reliable option should Luongo falter at any point. Vigneault has also shown confidence in Schneider by starting him in Boston and making the statement that the Canucks are set for a Stanley Cup rematch should it occur.