Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/16/14
Gettyimage.ashx_url_http_3a_2f_2fcache.gettyimages.com_2fxc_2f93340397.jpg_3fv_3d1_26c_3dewsasset_26k_3d2_26d_3d77bfba49ef878921cc759df4ebac47d0af6b394ccf38093d32a86b3513d4efcbe80183f312cb9ab3
Rejuvenated Ballard boosts blue line

One year ago in the playoffs Keith Ballard appeared to be Alain Vigneault’s favourite whipping boy, as he was frequently dropped from the post season lineup and fell victim to several less than flattering appraisals by his coach.

To his credit, the expensive free agent defenceman, acquired from the Florida Panthers (Vancouver’s favoured players dealer), was always professional in public forums acknowledging the need to improve his play, while resisting the urge to fire off any critical frustrations of his own.

He came back determined at the start of this year to improve on his highly inconsistent first year performance with the Canucks.

In the season opener Ballard scored a highlight reel goal off the rush, appearing to quiet the critics somewhat. But some of the same inconsistencies returned to plague his game, such as missed checking assignments and stickhandling turnovers.

Keith Ballard has opened eyes with his good form against the LA Kings. - (Photo by Nick Didlick/Getty Images)

Then to throw a further wrench in the works, Ballard sustained a back injury causing him to miss five games in November/ December, followed by a serious concussion in February that held him out of the remainder of the regular season.

Ballard’s stop/start year looked to have cemented another disappointing run with Vancouver.

Nevertheless, a year after that frustrating playoff run with the team, Ballard has returned from a challenging regular season to open eyes with his good form against the LA Kings, as one of a few bright lights in the first round prior to Game 4.

He has been one of the better players for Vancouver in this series, playing alongside the steady young Chris Tanev.

His skating has been as good as ever, and he has been much more proficient at clearing the defensive zone by banking or chipping the puck out quickly, rather than getting caught in possession.

As his confidence has climbed, he has also taken much more calculated risks in the offensive zone, pinching down intelligently to maintain the cycle, rather than getting caught up ice.

In a sea full of negative player ratings for the Canucks against LA, Ballard has maintained an even zero rating following their first win.  

Hopefully, Vancouver can steal a few more games to help cement the newfound confidence and improved game of the speedy Ballard.

CLICK HERE CHECK OUT THE VANCOUVER CANUCKS CLUBHOUSE TODAY ON NWSB!

© C-Mac for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

Follow NWSB on Twitter or join US on Facebook for real-time updates OR... | Share This on Twitter | Share NWSportsBeat.com on Facebook

Post tags: Alain Vigneault, Canucks, Canucks hockey blog, Canucks Injuries, Canucks Roster, Canucks vs. Kings, Chris Tanev, Keith Ballard, Kings vs. Canucks, NHL Playoffs, vancouver

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Five reasons the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl

Bill Simmons fires a shot at ESPN colleague Ray Lewis

Which teams are most squarely on the bubble?

Tiger Woods: 'There was blood everywhere' after tooth incident

Jerry Rice: Asterisk needed if Patriots win Super Bowl

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Pete Carroll ok with Robert Kraft despite Patriots firing

Winners and losers of the Senior Bowl

Report: NFL approved under-inflated balls from Patriots

New MLB commissioner: Return to Montreal is possible

Report: Pats employee taking footballs into bathroom on video

Greg Anthony caught offering $80 to undercover officer for sex

Ranking all 48 Super Bowls

'Goodell Must Go' mobile banners heading to Phoenix

NFL pushing College Football Playoff to change its schedule

Can the Yankees avoid paying A-Rod's milestone bonuses?

Tom Brady once got locked in a high school locker

Fire alarm at Patriots' hotel goes off early Tuesday morning

Petition to remove Pats from Super Bowl has 40K+ signatures

Richard Sherman is not pleased with Roger Goodell

Buffalo Bills: The greatest champion that never was

Six best Super Bowl coaches of all-time

Five key matchups for Super Bowl XLIX

Early B1G predictions for 2015

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ranking all 48 Super Bowls

Bill Simmons fires a shot at Ray Lewis

NFL pushing CFP to change schedule

Can Yanks not pay A-Rod his bonuses?

Petition started to remove Pats from SB

NFL approved Pats' under-inflated balls?

Six best Super Bowl coaches of all-time

Five key matchups for Super Bowl XLIX

Early Big Ten predictions for 2015

Remembering Ernie Banks

Pats employee took footballs into restroom?

Report: Kobe not retiring

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.