No we clearly do not. This team plays 6 games without Sami Salo and we have one of the worst defences in the league. Sure we don't have one star that carries the defence, but they aren't working well by committee which is the issue - they need a veteran presence desperately because guys like Hamhuis, Bieksa, Edler and Garrison are not veterans, they're defencemen in their prime. We need a guy who's played in this league a much longer time, and that was Salo. He'd seen it all. These guys haven't.
As for Ballard yes he's played ok, but he's paired with our best defenceman. You take away Tanev and he becomes our worst in an instance. So yes, Tanev is doing a great job with Ballard. He has turned this pathetic excuse for a defenceman into a decent 3rd pairing guy. You forget how badly he played without Tanev, and how he would be barrated for his poor play. Now Tanev comes along and fixes up his game perfectly.
Basically, we have 4 panicky guys on defence and 2 calm, cool and collected defenceman - Hamhuis and Tanev. We used to have Salo in that mix as well, giving us a set of perfect pairs: Tanev would settle Ballard down, Hamhuis would cover for Bieksa and Salo would help Edler play a more solid game. Now we have a mismatch with Garrison instead of Salo, who is even less experienced than Edler.
Barker and Vandermeer have been in this league a lot longer than some of our guys, I say throw Vandermeer in to see his effect on our other defencemen. This is why I was pushing so hard for Hal Gill or Allen - they would have fit this niche perfectly.
Ballard without Tanev >>>>>>>>>> Bieksa without Hamhuis
Ballard struggled for one year, last year he got alot better and from the 2nd half of the season on he has only been consistently solid, and since the playoffs has been our best defensemen, Tanev is great I absolutely agree but if you watched the Chicago wolves games you would know he isn't fool proof, as he struggled early on, basically the same thing Hamhuis is going through right now.
I find it funny that the excuse for Ballard playing well is "that he is playing with Tanev" Yet no one ever acknowledges Bieksa is absolute crap without Hamhuis and even with Hamhuis he manages to play terrible most of the time.
Is some instances I agree, but the way this defense is struggling isn't because Sami left, Bieksa and Edler have always been inconsistent, not sure what is happening with Hammer but my guess is he is regaining form after the lockout, Garrison is adjusting to the new system and aside from some bad turnovers has been alright, Ballard and Tanev have stepped up and become our #1 5 on 5 pair.
It's 6 games in, wait till mid way through the season, this is a veteran group that has grown together and faced adversity, we just need to make a coaching change IMO then we will see this team play the way they can.
Oh and Hamhuis, Ballard and Bieksa are all 30 or older, so I don't know how they aren't veterans: (Hamhuis: 30) (Bieksa, 31) (Ballard 30)
Edited by Smashian Kassian, 29 January 2013 - 04:31 PM.