There doesn’t appear to be an imminent end to the National Hockey League lockout as the league has suggested to the NHL Players’ Association that they take a two week break from the negotiating table and there are plans to cancel some December games.
That hasn’t stopped Alain Vigneault from figuring out how he wants his defence pairings to look like on the power play.
“I have an idea,” Vigneault told the Province. “I liked when we had Alex Edler and [Christian Ehrhoff] together on the point. [Edler] was so good at finding Christian and Christian was so good in putting it on the net.
“It’s sort of that same dynamic. Left passer, Eddie and left shot, [Jason] Garrison. At even strength, I’m still trying to figure things out for Garrison. I’ve seen Chris Tanev play quite a bit and I liked what I saw.
“He’s going to be a steady defenceman who you won’t notice in a lot of offensive situations, but you’ll know defensively he’s doing the job.”
Garrison, who spent last season with the Florida Panthers, played primarily on the left side with Brian Campbell, but does have some experience on the right. Some had penciled him to slide into Sami Salo’s spot on the second pairing with Edler, but it appears that won’t be happening.
This leaves the Canucks with four left-side defencemen (Edler, Garrison, Dan Hamhuis, and Keith Ballard) and a decision will have to be made as to who switches over. Last season, both Edler and Ballard spent some time on the right side, but I would assume Edler is the guy that will make the switch.
The Canucks have tried experimenting Ballard on the right side for the past two seasons and on most nights he has looked uncomfortable. Ballard, when at his best, is rushing the puck up the ice, but when he moves over to the right side, he can no longer use the boards to protect the puck on his forehand. It also negates his ability to throw his patented hipcheck.
If I am a betting man, the pairings will be Dan Hamhuis-Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison-Alex Edler, and Keith Ballard-Chris Tanev. The Hamhuis-Bieksa and Ballard-Tanev pairings have proven to work in the past.
Given the prospects of a short training camp, the Canucks will likely go with what they know works rather than juggling all of their defence pairings to fit Garrison in.