Friday, April 30, 2010

Give Us Barabbas! Why Andrew Alberts is the Key

If Alberts can't get it done, Sedin should give him the Tekken 6 flying jump kick, just as this picture depicts.

Brace yourselves, Vancouver: Andrew Alberts is the key to this series.

Don't panic. He can do it. I know that this is the guy that we have ruefully called A Minor for his 23 penalty minutes in the first two games of the LA series. I recognize that this is the guy who was undressed by Jason Spezza in one of the highlights of the year. I am aware that the fans want the unspectacular Aaron Rome, or the equally unspectacular Nolan Baumgartner instead of him. But I stand by my thesis. Andrew Alberts is the key to this series.

Let's get a couple of things straight. First, Alberts is not all bad. He's not even close to as bad as you think he is. In fact, the Canucks are 9-1 when his plus-minus is even or better. If he can limit mistakes, the Canucks tend to win. The guy has a natural size advantage over anybody else on the ice at 6'5", 218. Dustin "Feather-Rufflin'" Byfuglien (it really doesn't work, Skeeter, but I'll keep at it for you) may outweight him by thirty pounds, but considering a good chunk of that is fat, let's call it even. Much bigger than previous and current crease-clearers such as Mitchell, Ohlund, and O'Brien, Alberts has the potential to muscle people out of the crease no Canuck has had since Bryan Allen, maybe. And it'll be expected of him on the penalty kill.

Yes, Andrew Alberts is the key to the penalty kill. Notice that, in the LA series, it improved drastically in games where he wasn't the one in the box. The Kings got one power-play goal in the last two games, and Alberts didn't take a penalty in either one. Towards the end of the series, Alberts did a good job of keeping all-star crease presences like Ryan Smyth at bay without taking a penalty. Since Chicago has about twenty-seven guys who can stand in front of the net, Alberts is more vital than necessary. And consider this: his limitations in the mobility department are effectively nullified on the penalty kill, when he won't be asked to go anywhere at all. Stay by the net, and cross-check Dustin Byfuglien for two minutes. That's all we ask.

If Alberts can do this, his acquisition is a complete win for Mike Gillis. As a sixth defenseman, he likely won't get a ton of minutes 5-on-5. And that's good; Patrick Kane might literally skate between his legs. Let's stop and imagine Hughson calling the play:

Hughson: Kane dangles between Alberts' legs!
Simpson: *snicker*

Hmm. It sounds horrible, any way you think about it. And let's be honest. This entire post was an excuse to make that joke.

Now, even I'd prefer if Kane and Alberts never met but on the PK, like an arranged marriage. While not being nearly as slow as most think he is (Canucks fans think speed is inversely proportional to size), Alberts will still likely get undressed by the much more fleet-of-foot Kane . But, if every time the Canucks take a penalty, AV can throw out a well-rested wrecking ball, and Alberts can do this one job with some success (clear the frakkin' crease), then our chances to win the series improve drastically.


  1. Good call. When he's not in the penalty box, he's a solid guy in front of the net and an effective penalty killer.


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