With Sami Salo almost ready to return to action this weekend, the Vancouver Canucks will have an interesting roster decision to make.
Besides the team’s collective breakdown in the latter half of their loss to Detroit last night, they had actually started to turn things around defensively. For the most part, they had started to limit the number of quality scoring chances against them in the last week or so. After allowing 22 goals against in the first 6 games of the season, they only allowed 6 goals in the next 5 games.
They had also been better on the penalty-kill. After allowing at least one powerplay goal in the first 6 games of the season (8 PPGA in 27 times shorthanded – 70% PK rate), they then only allowed a grand total of 1 powerplay goal against in the next 5 games (1 PPGA in 20 TS – 95% PK rate).
Individually, some of the defensemen can certainly play better – I’m looking at you, Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler – but the group’s overall play has been good enough to vault the Canucks into the top-10 in the league in goals against.
Some highlights from the defense to date: Christian Ehrhoff’s 10 points in 12 games ranks him 5th among all NHL defensemen in scoring; besides his usual, rock-solid defensive play, Willie Mitchell is off to the best offensive start of his career; Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler are leading the team in ice-time; Shane O’Brien is leading the team in plus-minus; and Mathieu Schneider scored his first goal in a Canucks uniform last night.
The question is: when Sami comes back, who sits?