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01-18-2011, 03:24 PM
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I'm fine with Bieksa's minutes right now. He's proven in the last two months to be either the best or second best defenseman just about every game. Early in the year I thought Bieksa was playing poorly and was getting too many minutes, but the way he's rounded into form leaves no doubt in my mind that the minutes are being distributed fine right now.

My feelings on Ballard aren't that he's a disappointment, either. There was always going to be one "Top 4" guy on the bottom pair, and odds were whoever it was would struggle. It's hard to play 30% less minutes than you're used to and still feel the rhythm of the game. In Ballard's case, he's been decent to good for most of the past few months (with a few lapses), and played great when called on for extra minutes. Is this not exactly what everyone crowing about depth was looking for last summer? I think it's remarkable that everyone wanted depth and now so many want to trade it away to make more cap space. Crazy.

Gillis will have to make some tough calls with his UFA defensemen this spring/summer when he finds out what kind of money they're looking for. In the mean time, I'm enjoying the depth.

Note: my one complaint would be that I would like to see Ballard on the 2nd PP to see if he would be a useful player there. I also don't like how the defense has been handled when Rome/Ballard were injured. With how tired the team has looked lately, the last thing the top guys need is another 5 minutes a night that Ballard could easily provide playing 22-24 minutes. Edler looks like he has an absolutely empty gas tank the last week.

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