Monday, October 10, 2005

Canucks Defence Will Crumble This Year

In 2003/04, the Vancouver Canucks had one of the best group of defencemen in the NHL. Mattais Ohlund, Ed Jovanovski, Marek Malik, Sami Salo and Brent Sopel played most of the ice time. This summer, their depth was significantly reduced when Malik was signed as a free agent by the New York Rangers and Brent Sopel was traded to the New York Islanders (in a deal likely motivated by the salary cap). This season, it is hoped that Bryan Allen and newcomer Steve McCarthy will step up to be able to take over the minutes that Malik and Sopel played in 03/04. At least that is the theory.

The Canucks have only played two games so far this year, but that theory is not working. Canucks coach Marc Crawford has only shown faith in the remaining big three defencemen from 03/04. A quick look at the stats at (note that these stats will change as games are played so they may have changed when you click the link) shows that the three leaders in shifts per game in the NHL are: 1) Sami Salo 2) Ed Jovanovski 3) Mattais Ohlund. That level of overwork will lead these players tiring and slowing down before the stretch drive (if not earlier). That is unless it leads to injury first.

The Canucks lack of depth at defence is already showing itself. It will likely lead to some serious problems before the season is complete.

NOTE: After the Canucks third game of the season, Salo and Jovanovski are still placed first and second in shifts per game. Ohlund has slipped to fifth falling behind Niclas Havelid of Atlanta and Rob Blake of Colorado. The top two and three of the top five in shifts per game is still dangerously overworked.

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