The Canucks have gone from amazing depth on defence to nearly scraping the bottom of the barrel. With Keith Ballard falling to the ice and his knee twisting in an ungodly fashion in the process against the Senators, the current Canucks defensive corps looks like this:
Who would have thought that we would be perhaps praying for the return of Sami Salo so desperately? Sami will play another game for the Moose on Tuesday evening and then let the Canucks know afterward if he is ready to rejoin the squad. Lee Sweatt has a wrecked foot and remains on the Canucks' payroll on the IR. Alex Edler is out until late March at the earliest.
The Province correctly points out that Kevin Connauton is probably not ready for the bigs yet and Ryan Parent would need to clear re-entry waivers if another injury occurs / Salo is not ready. I think we should be thankful not only for the depth that we currently have, but also for the team's performance so far this season. Vancouver holds a 9 point lead over the Red Wings for first overall in the Western Conference and an 18 point lead over the Flames for the Northwest Division lead. That's a lot of padding in case the sky falls a bit.
As for Ballard, who was fitting in just fine and dandy, an MRI today will determine his fate, according to Alain Vigneault. The image doesn't promote much positivity. A sprain or a tear to his knee....could be weeks could be near-season-ending. In the meantime the Canucks' D needs to cope in the face of adversity. If Salo is not ready then Andrew Alberts needs to shine with extended minutes and Chris Tanev will need to continue his solid defensive play. Replacing Ballard, if you look at his stats, doesn't mean scoring, killing guys every shift or leading the team in takeaways. It means playing a responsible defensive game and being aggressive.