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The Globe and Mail

Ducks have the depth to overcome Robidas injury

Anaheim Ducks' defenceman Stephane Robidas.

Associated Press

On the same day that the Colorado Avalanche lost defenceman Tyson Barrie for six weeks as a result of that knee-on-knee collision with Matt Cooke, the Anaheim Ducks also lost a key member of their defensive core. Stephane Robidas, returning to Dallas for the first time since he was traded from the Stars to the Ducks, broke the same right leg that kept him out three-and-a-half months during the middle part of the season.

It happened in far more innocent fashion – in a second-period with the Stars' Ryan Garbutt. The Ducks didn't like the way Garbutt and Antoine Roussel spent the night agitating against their star players, but there was no particular issue with the play that knocked Robidas out.

Robidas had played 10 seasons for the Stars; and was a highly regarded elder statesman in his time with the franchise. His return to play against his former team was one of the happier back stories of the opening round, so there was commiserating about the injury from both sides – and the crowd saluted him with a cheer of "Roby, Roby, Roby" when he was helped off the ice.

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The difference between the two injuries is their respective long-term impact on the Ducks and Avalanche's playoff aspirations. By virtue of their depth, Anaheim is more fully prepared to overcome the loss of Robidas than Colorado is the loss of Barrie. Anaheim started the playoffs with nine NHL-calibre defencemen at coach Bruce Boudreau's disposal – the six that played the first three games of the series, plus Luca Sbisa, Sami Vatanen and Mark Fistric.

All three provide different dimensions, depending upon how Boudreau wants to deploy his troops, but it stands to reason that Sbisa – who is most like Robidas in terms of what he brings to a team's all-around game – will go in for the fourth game of a series that Anaheim leads 2-1. Sbisa had his own share of injury problems this season. He missed six weeks after injuring his ankle in the first exhibition game and then another 26 games as a result of a torn tendon in his right hand, thanks to a fight with Tampa's Radko Gudas.

But when healthy, he's a taking-care-of-business sort of defenceman, not someone who will power a fantasy team, but a player that can eat up some important defensive minutes. In short, a younger version of Robidas.

Colorado, on the other hand, has no one that can come in and replace the sort of offensive flair that Barrie demonstrated in the second half of the season.

Depth is something every NHL team prizes, but depth rarely matters this early in the first round. But depth can be a difference maker by the fourth round, if you get that far, and that's what separates Anaheim's roster from Colorado's – more good options at every position than maybe any team in the NHL right now.

Follow me on Twitter @ eduhatschek

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