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Hanlon Bracing For Changes

Not much in the way of news today, but I thought I would share a few tidbits from practice.

Coach Glen Hanlon made some interesting comments when asked about Shoane Morrisson and Milan Jurcina possibly being the shutdown defensive pairing next season. Let me start by saying this: I don't think Hanlon was taking a swipe at his players, but he clearly sounded like a coach who is bracing for major changes in the offseason, particularly on defense.

"We all have to take a look," Hanlon said. "I'm not making any predictions about next year [regarding] who's going to do what or who's going to play where. We're going to finish in the bottom handful of teams."

"They've worked at it, they've done a good job, they've played as well as they possibly can. But I don't want to commit and say this is going to be our shutdown pair. I'm not doing that. We have to get better in all areas--and that could be one of them."

"Maybe everyone moves over a spot. We're going to have see. I'll have a better feel when training camp begins next year."

"Jurcina has been an upgrade with Mo because [Brian Pothier] is not a shutdown guy. He's not a guy who chases guys around the rink. He's not a guy who can play 24 minutes against Jagr and Sundin and Jokinen and wear them out. [Pothier] is more effective when he's carrying the puck up the ice."

"It helps [to have size]. Those are some attributes you need. But you also need skill. You also have to be able to get pucks in tight spaces and make seven foot passes under pressure. You can use your wingspan to do all of these things, but if you give the puck away, you are right back at it. Instead of being in there for five seconds, you are in there for 15 seconds. These are all areas we have to get better at, [Morrisonn and Jurcina] included."

Hanlon's words caught my attention because he rarely speaks directly about personnel. But he's clearly frustrated with how things are going and expects some upgrades, which is consistent with what Ted Leonsis and George McPhee have said recently.

In other news, defenseman Steve Eminger skated for the first time since suffering a concussion against Buffalo. He said he probably won't play Friday at Florida, but is a possibility for Saturday at Tampa Bay.

Alex Ovechkin was given the day off to rest and recover from a cold that's been dogging him the past few days.

Center Brian Sutherby skated lightly in a windbreaker after practice, but is not close to returning. And with only five games remaining, that would seem pretty unlikely.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 28, 2007; 1:53 PM ET
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