Veteran Andrew Alberts will make his season debut Wednesday for the Vancouver Canucks when he’s penciled into the lineup in place of sophomore blue-liner Chris Tanev.
The move is likely less an indictment of Tanev’s play – he’s been OK through two games, averaging 13:44 in ice-time while staying even in plus/minus – a more a desire by the coaching staff for a bit more toughness in the lineup when the team faces the Philadelphia Flyers on the road.
Alberts certainly isn’t the puck-mover Tanev has the potential to be, but a road game against a typically tough team like the Flyers seems as good a time as any to get the veteran into the lineup.
The only problem the blue-line shuffle presents is who – either Ballard or Alberts – shifts to the right side. Both players have traditionally been left-side d-men, and neither have appeared comfortable when having to make the shift. Odds are that the Canucks coaching staff goes with Ballard on his off-side (as opposed to the slow-footed Alberts) because he’s fleet enough afoot to cover up any mistakes, should he struggle handling the Flyers’ forwards as they try to gain the zone on offence.
The only other option would be to shift Alex Edler to the right side – he could likely handle the change with more ease than either Ballard of Alberts – but that would shuffle the Canucks’ top pairing of Edler and Salo, which is likely not something the team wants to entertain.
Roberto Luongo will also return to the net against the Flyers, with Cory Schneider expected to play the second game of the back-to-back Thursday in Detroit.