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D Ballard filling in fine for banged-up Canucks

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - For a guy who downplays his baseball skills, Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard has been a pretty good reliever for banged-up Vancouver during the club's run to the Stanley Cup finals.

With top shutdown defenseman Dan Hamhuis nursing an undisclosed injury sustained Wednesday early in the second period of the Canucks' 1-0 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the finals, Ballard might have to step in again if Hamhuis is forced to sit out on Saturday night.

"I don't think Little League has middle relievers," Ballard joked Thursday when asked if he had any experience on the diamond. "I was terrible at baseball."

It's a good thing the Minnesota native is a good hockey player.