As we continue this lazy drive down the preview line, it's time to look at the men behind the men but in front of the other guy, the defense of Vancouver
#2 / Defenseman / Vancouver Canucks
Dec 13, 1982
|2010 - Dan Hamhuis||64||6||17||23||29||34||2||0||1||109|
#3 / Defenseman / Vancouver Canucks
Jun 16, 1981
|2010 - Kevin Bieksa||66||6||16||22||32||73||1||0||2||105|
Vancouver's top pair are two guys we've had some fun with the past year or two. You'll probably remember our back and forth with On The Forecheck last season when they assured us that Dan Hamhuis would shackle Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp while Suter and Weber dealt with Toews and Hossa. And aside from those seven points in six games that Kaner registered, Hamhock was just fine. It's surprising that Hamhuis is even suiting up after his second concussion in a short time span, which actually came from colliding with his partner. If he's fully healthy though, Hamhuis is a gifted skater and a pretty decent puck mover. His game would look a lot like Duncan Keith's when Keith isn't bathing in the stupid tub, where he uses his feet and stick more than a physical facet to keep the attackers at bay. Overall, he's a pretty solid guy if he's fully healthy, and all reports are that he is. But Hamhuis has never struck anyone as a genuine, #1 shutdown guy. Sure, we see the +29 but that's a little distorted by the team wide silly stats the Canucks have put up.
Bieksa was our favorite joke the past two years. Never afraid to run his mouth and then take another stupid, selfish penalty while getting walked by either Toews or Kane, we've gotten a lot of mileage out of ol' Kev. Before this year started he was certainly trade bait, as the Canucks looked for cap relief. But then Sami Salo got hurt taking in oxygen as is his way, and Bieksa figured out that when playing for a contract it's probably a good idea to let it all hang out. He's lessened the dumb decisions, channeled the physicality into legal ways, and still probably has the most snarl on the blue line for Vancouver. He's the exact type of defender the smallish Hawks forwards don't deal with well, and if his head is on straight could be a real force in this series. But can anyone guarantee that he will? I'm still wagering that he runs his mouth and keeps parading to the box and gives us opportunities to make this a real entanglement.
#5 / Defenseman / Vancouver Canucks
Jul 06, 1982
|2010 - Christian Ehrhoff||79||14||36||50||19||52||6||0||3||209|
#23 / Defenseman / Vancouver Canucks
Apr 21, 1986
|2010 - Alexander Edler||51||8||25||33||13||24||5||0||1||121|
This is where it gets icky. Both Edler ad Ehrhoff have grown up this season, Ehrhoff doing so especially when Edler went down with a back injury that he just returned from. Though they won't say it, to me this is their top pair. While both don't play to their size at all times, Edler was doing that more this year before the injury. Who knows if that will change now. Both are nifty on the power play with cannons for shots. And both join the rush and can really push the play from the backend, and when the Sedins get going and these two are providing outlets, it becomes scary. If these two continue their excellent play in the postseason, the Canucks are formidable in every sense. And this time we don't come armed with the forwards who could bully them, if that's even possible even more.
#6 / Defenseman / Vancouver Canucks
Sep 02, 1974
|2010 - Sami Salo||27||3||4||7||-3||14||1||0||0||39|
#29 / Defenseman / Vancouver Canucks
Sep 27, 1983
|2010 - Aaron Rome||56||1||4||5||1||53||0||0||0||50|
This is the likely third pairing, and boy does it ever look one. Salo's sort of been the bane of Canucks fans existence with his hefty contract and softer than puppy shit play and his ability to have something fall off of him every 10 minutes. Yes, he's got that bazooka of a shot but he doesn't carry much else, and the Hawks have exposed him in the past. Rome is pretty much the definition of "a guy", and you won't see him much more than 10 minutes a night. They could bring in Keith Ballard to patrol here as well, but he's been beyond terrible this year and that's unlikely.
Overall, it's a solid group, and with Keith and Hjalmarsson both underachieving this year, the Canucks probably have the advantage. But there's not a true top pairing here, just a collection of #2 or more likely #3 d-men, though Edler can change that. But this is essentially the same group the Hawks have gotten past the past two years, replacing Willie Mitchell with Hamhuis, though I know Mitchell didn't play last year. It will come down to if Toews and Hossa (assuming they're playing together) can scratch against Hamhock and the Mouthy Douchebag. Edler and Ehrhoff wouldn't likely fair much better if called upon.