Unless there are other factors at play that we’re not aware of, I don’t see the logic of making Keith Ballard a healthy scratch in last night’s game and replacing with Aaron Rome.
No, Ballard hasn’t been great. Certainly, he hasn’t played or produced as should be expected from a $4.2 million defenseman. But then again, he hasn’t called on to play much – or do much – considering that Dan Hamhuis, Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff and Sami Salo are all ahead of him on the Canucks’ depth chart.
That said, I thought Ballard had been decent in his 13 minutes of average ice-time in the first 4 games of this series. In game 4, he was the only Canucks defenseman to not be on the ice for any of the Hawks’ 7 goals. In fact, he’s the only Canucks defenseman who hasn’t been on the ice for any of the Hawks’ goals this series.
Compare that with Rome, who, in his first 7 shifts and 3:38 minutes of ice-time last night, was already on the ice for 2 Chicago goals. Not only that, but he was also responsible for the giveaway that led to Duncan Keith’s first goal.
After GM Mike Gillis’ and Laurence Gilman’s cap juggling all season, I find it hard to believe that Ballard has been relegated to the press box for the playoffs. IMHO, his play hasn’t warranted being taken out of the lineup. Or in other words, I don’t think Rome’s play has been good enough to take over Ballard’s spot in the lineup.
So what gives? Was Ballard really a healthy scratch or are the Canucks hiding some sort of ailment? If it’s the former, does he draw back in for game 6? Because if you believe AV when he says he’ll always dress the players who give him the best chance to win, there’s no reason his lineup should include Rome over Ballard.