The play of Sheldon Brookbank over the past few games has been nothing short of inspiring. Clearly he attended the same "get ready for every game no matter how badly the team that employs you wants to forget that you exist and have a more than serviceable skill set at your disposal" school of professional preparation as Erik Christensen. Brookbank's time with the Ducks, and his career, has been centered on the belief that he is more of an extra defenseman than an everyday player.
However, his recent play has earned him a consistent spot on Anaheim's third pairing along with Ryan Whitney. Normally, Duck Calls aren't supposed to about stats, but Brookbanks stat line since he returned to the line up reads as such: 0 - 2= 2, +4, 14 PIM. To be fair, 10 of those 14 penalty minutes are from two fighting majors. When Brookbank is in the line up, his willingness to protect his teammates and be the enforcer gives Carlyle the option of scratching Parros and using more of our depth at forward. Carlyle is only playing Brookbank 12-13 minutes a night, a number that will assuredly go up but probably not higher than 15 minutes, which means Brookbank can be an enforcer without limiting his ability to do his job effectively.
My favorite thing about Brookbank is that he has the makings of a solid stay at home guy. Something I've been crying for in almost every trade discussion we've had for the past month. Brookbank doesn't make bad decisions with the puck. Yes he can be pressured into turnovers, but who can't? The real point is that he doesn't take risks with the puck. As Zupke from the OC Register points out Brookbank hasn't given the puck away once in the past two games. He uses the glass, uses his body, and uses his partner to make sure the puck doesn't end up in the other team's hands in the defensive zone. He hardly ever pinches, and when he does shoot it finds the net. Again, the sign of a player who makes the right decision and shoots when he has to, when he knows the puck won't get blocked and go the other way. He frustrates the other team with his ability to move the puck out of danger quickly, essentially nullifying the forecheck. He doesn't have the size to dominate the net, but he has the toughness and nastiness to make sure you pay a price to get that goal. Brookbank is mean, makes the opposition work, and doesn't surrender the puck. Something we've been missing on the backend for a while now. I think he should see more PK time, but that's just me.
Finally, I'd like to thank Brookbank for giving Bob Murray a helping hand. While Eminger was most assuredly playing poorly when Carlyle took him out of the line up, it was a stretch of about 5 games where he had trouble with turnovers, He was playing fairly decent D before that. In his first 11 games he was only a -1. Essentially, the emergence of Brookbank means we have at least one more D we can move at the deadline. Boynton and Eminger have been susceptible at times, and Wisniewski, despite his many mental lapses and fragility, would still be appealing to a contender. Meanwhile, Brookbank is cheap, tough and does everything you ask of him. It's hard not to like a guy with those characteristics. Brookbank will let Murray sweeten a deal, either by being in it or allowing us to move someone else.
Brookbank's contributions since he returned to the line up have helped steady us on the blueline. For all that and being a stand up guy when the Ducks ran him through the ringer, Sheldon Brookank gets a Duck Call.