Two for Flinching: A look at the Canucks Blue Liners
Next up, the blueliners. And looking at the stats, something odd stands out. Of the 8 guys on their roster that are defencemen, only two aren't 6'3"... they're like the damn rockettes. The Hawks only have 3 defencemen that tall by the way.
Now, looking at a Nucks shift charts, you'll see that Vigneault doesn't stick with defensive pairings with the same strictness that Q does. These are the closest I think we'll get to the actual pairings.
#2 / Defenseman / Vancouver Canucks
Sep 09, 1976
#23 / Defenseman / Vancouver Canucks
Apr 21, 1986
Combined for 211 hits, 245 blocked shots, 62 points
Not quite the shut down pairing, not a great offensive duo but not a liability either. These two are quiet and get the job done but aren't making any highlight reels. Ohlund has been around for a while and is still logging bit minutes (21:34/g) but has never had a stand out year (36 points and +16 in '01-'02?). Edler is second on the Nucks blue line with 37 points and he's third with a +/- of 11.. but there's really nothing else to say about him.
They're a quality pairing but nothing spectacular. This could be a pairing the Hawks could exploit if they can get a good line out there against them. They're not going to be overly physical and aren't a big threat to score. . Ohlund has been taking more penalties than usual this year and if the Hawks power play stays on fire they should test him.
#8 / Defenseman / Vancouver Canucks
Apr 23, 1977
#6 / Defenseman / Vancouver Canucks
Sep 02, 1974
Combined for 128 hits, 191 blocked shots, 48 points
Willie Mitchell is the closest thing the Canucks have to a real shutdown guy. He's got the highest +/- of the defencemen at 29, he logs big minutes - including on the PK. He'll be paired up with guys like Havlat and Toews trying to make their lives miserable. I just don't know how much help he'll get. If Mitchell is supposed to be the Nucks Keith, then Salo's got a long way to go to be Seabrook. There's really no one to compliment Mitchell and give him any help. If the Hawks can work around him that'd be wise or just try to take advantage of his partner.
Salo did step up his game against the Blues, 4 points in 3 games before missing the last one. He's said to be back for the Second Round but I don't think we should worry too much about his point production. 4 points matches his highest post-season production and he averaged just .42 points per game in the regular season. For a guy who is 6'3" and 215lbs he doesn't play a very physical game.
#55 / Defenseman / Vancouver Canucks
Aug 09, 1983
#3 / Defenseman / Vancouver Canucks
Jun 16, 1981
Combined for 200 hits, 111 blocked shots, 53 points.. not sure what happened to O'Brien's picture...
Now this is where it gets fun, Bieksa, from my understanding, is quite popular in Vancouver. He's a high scoring blue liner with 43 points in the regular season. Of those 43 points though, 23 came on the power play. So he's not a huge threat at even strength. The Hawks showed pretty good discipline in not taking too many penalties in the first round so they'll need to keep that up. Bieksa brings a physical presence though, leading the defense in hits. Bieksa is also the guy Eager dropped then power slammed into the ice in the line brawl.
O'Brien though is the big fighter for the Nucks defense. O'Brien dropped the gloves 9 times this year and according to Hockey Fights, he only lost once. Other than that though there's nothing spectacular about him though. He's got 10 points, some hits... whatever. He'll play the least amount of time of the D.
The Hawks should keep their heads up when these two are on the ice though as they'll bring the strongest physical game for the Nucks.
Once again, I hate to say it but the Hawks have the edge here. The Nucks don't have a pairing that's even close to Keith/Biscuit and Campbell has actually been playing decently in his own end while flying all over the ice. I don't think I've personally seen a faster or smoother skater than Campbell in Game 5. The Nucks might have a slight edge on the 5th and 6th D-men, but they shouldn't be a deciding factor and even Walker has stepped up his game lately.