VANCOUVER — The drop-off from Dan Hamhuis to Keith Ballard is immense.
The Vancouver Canucks, however, might have to live with that decrease in production from their back line for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final Saturday.
Hamhuis suffered an undisclosed injury on a hip check of Bruins forward Milan Lucic in the Canucks’ Game 1 win Wednesday night. He left the game and didn’t return. Today he was classified as “day-to-day” by head coach Alain Vigneault, who would probably turn to Ballard if Hamhuis cannot play.
“Obviously you prefer not to have injuries, but we’ve had them during the regular season. We’ve just dealt with them. We’ve done the same thing in the playoffs,” said Vigneault today on the first of two days off before Game 2.
“So nothing’s going to change. [We] have a lot of confidence in all our players. Right now we have Keith, Andrew Alberts and Chris Tanev that have played some minutes with us this year, have done a real good job. If we need somebody to play minutes, I’m confident they’ll be able to step in and do a real good job for us.”
Hamhuis has recorded six points and a plus-5 rating while averaging more than 24 minutes of ice time a night in the playoffs. Ballard’s numbers don’t elicit a ton of confidence. In nine playoff games he’s averaged just north of 14 minutes per night and failed to register a point. He’s a minus-2 for the postseason.
“He’s handled it like a true team player, a real professional,” said Vigneault about Ballard dealing with less playing time than he’s accustomed. “Obviously, you know, he’d probably like to play more, be a regular part of the team. But we feel that certain players have played a little bit better and they deserve to be in the lineup.
“We’re confident if we need Keith down the road, he’ll be ready and do a good job for us.”