Good thing Keith Ballard has fortified his mental toughness.
Looks like he’s going to need it.
After emerging from a contemplative, frustrating couple of days, in which he was a healthy scratch for two games, Ballard was committed to being the best he could be.
Actually, that’s impossible in Vancouver. Make it the best No. 6 defenceman he could be.
It didn’t last long.
For his comeback against San Jose last night, Ballard was safe, smart, and hustling. He even had a scoring chance in the third period.
He didn’t skate with the puck. Instead, he skated with the puck and dumped it in.
He knows what head coach Alain Vigneault likes. It just doesn’t come easy. Nothing ever does for Ballard.
He plays the wrong side on a blueline too loaded with lefties. And too often, he plays the wrong way.
But late in Thursday’s game, he wasn’t playing at all.
Going all-in for a puck battle with Scott Gomez, Ballard got tangled up with the centre, suffering a charley horse, believed to be a groin.
He never returned. Just his luck.
So is Cam Barker being the reason the Canucks got a point.
With 2:19 left, Vigneault trusted Barker on the ice with Jason Garrison. It proved to be a good call, because when Ryane Clowe fired a wrist shot into an open net, Barker made the save of the game.
“I took it in a tough spot, right in the junk,” said Barker, stoked Vigneault had him on the ice for the critical shift.
“I know what I’m capable of. Obviously, it’s about the coaches being familiar with me to to have the confidence to have me out there. That trust takes time.”
Injury just the latest frustration for Canucks’ defenceman Ballard
Vancouver Province | Mar 6