Alex Biega: A Suprise From Utica?


As most Canucks fans know, the Canucks blueline is absolutely decimated.  Tanev, Edler and Bieksa are all out with injuries.  To help ease the pain of losing their top 3 defensemen, the Vancouver Canucks called up Utica blueliner, Alex Biega.  Biega was drafted 147th overall in 2006 and has been playing in the AHL since the 2010-2011 season.  Check out Biega’s stats, not too impressive right?  Even though his stats are not amazing, I have to say that I believe that Biega will earn steady work as an NHL defensemen in the near future (obviously I hope it is with the Canucks).  Biega is a physical, positionally sound, stay at home defenseman and I can easily see him being a solid 3/4 d-man down the road.

Feb 19, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Biega (55) and New York Rangers left wing Tanner Glass (15) battle for the puck during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

I absolutely love Biega’s physical play.  While watching him the last 3 games, I have noticed that he particularly likes to stand guys up at, or near the blueline.  I also see that he does like to hit and is not afraid to clear guys out from the front of net.  I love physical blueliners and I think Biega would be a perfect fit into the Canucks lineup, as he brings a little bit of that grit that the Canucks need so badly.  Besides Bieksa and sometimes Edler, what other blueliner do we have who plays a physical game?

For a guy that has only played 3 NHL games, Biega’s positioning is spot on.  Lets take an example from the most recent Minny game: The first goal by Nino Niederreiter.  Niederreiter scored because he wasn’t being covered properly by Linden Vey, however, Biega had his man (Charlie Coyle) tied up, thus preventing a pass to Coyle and allowing Lack to focus on Niederreiter (unfortunately Nino didn’t need to make a pass).  Let’s take another look at Biega’s sound positioning: The most recent New York Rangers game.  With 4:39 left in the second period, Biega’s solid defensive play negated a very good scoring chance by the Rangers.  After a turnover at the blueline by Vey, John Moore picked up the puck and started to drive towards the net.  Biega stayed with Moore and because he had good gap control, all Moore got was a harmless shot from the hashmarks.

Another thing I really like about Biega is his skating ability.  Now when I was learning how to play hockey, people would always say to play forward first, because in order to play defense, you had to be a proficient skater.  Although I have only watched Biega play 3 NHL games, I can say that Biega is a very proficient skater.  The key to Biega’s great skating is that he gets super low to the ground when skating: Biega overemphasizes his knee bend (that’s a good thing).  The lower you get when skating, the more balance and power you will have in your strides and Biega definitely demonstrates this.

Sep 16, 2013; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Biega (55) is checked into the boards by San Jose Sharks forward Andrew Desjardins (10) during the first period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Lastly, I want to quickly touch on Biega’s excellent slapper.  Elliot Friedman stated that Biega told him his shot was about 10 MPH faster than last season and that he has been working on his shot extensively. It definitely shows, as that game winning goal he had against Minny was an absolute rocket!

Now when Tanev, Bieksa and Edler return, there will most likely not be enough room for Biega to stay in the lineup.  Biega will be fighting it out with guys like Weber, Clendening, Corrado and Sbisa to stay in the lineup.  If Biega continues to play like he has in the last 3 games, he will make it hard for the Canucks to send him back to Utica.