Scott Hannan, Mike Green starting to mesh, but Jeff Schultz could soon be back in the mix
After playing as a defensive pair for the last five games, Scott Hannan and Mike Green seem to have found a good rhythm. It's a development that may not matter for too long, though, with Green's usual defensive partner, Jeff Schultz, poised to return to the Washington lineup as early as tonight against Montreal.
The problem -- what to do with too many healthy defensemen -- is one that Coach Bruce Boudreau doesn't mind too much.
"You're asking me a question that I've got to flip a coin and see what goes on and guess and hope it works," Boudreau said when asked if he would keep Hannan and Green together when Schultz returns. The defensemen have "all played well in recent games. When [General Manager] George [McPhee] made that trade, what he made this trade for was the depth and the solidity of the defense. Hopefully, that's what comes true. When you have guys like [Tom] Poti down and Schultz down and you keep getting solid defense. I think it's a great sign."
When Hannan first arrived via the trade with Colorado, he was paired with several different defensemen -- partially because of adjustments required by injuries, but also because of the simple need to see where the newest Capital fit. He and Green didn't mesh initially, but in the last two or three games, they've grown more comfortable.
"Any time you've got to get used to somebody new, you have to develop that timing and confidence and get to know each other," Green said. "We've only played with each other for [five] games in a row; that's pretty quick to come together and feel as comfortable as we do. It's just his experience and the way he talks. He's always positive out there, and when you're positive, good things happen and his overall experience is able to help me."
In the past five games both Hannan and Green have an even plus/minus rating. In the past two games against the Hurricanes and Penguins, both players have been a key part to successful penalty kills and logged a lot of ice time. For Green, that's par for the course, but Hannan saw the most ice time as a Capital in these two recent contests, skating 27:09 against the Penguins and 23:37 against the Hurricanes.
Hannan said it wasn't easy to try to integrate into a new team when so little was going right.
"It's definitely not ideal or easy when you come in and the team's struggling like that and you haven't won a game in eight, but it's great to get back on track and know where things fit," Hannan said. Of skating with Green, he added: "A lot is just talking out on the ice and getting comfortable with each other. He hadn't seen me play too much and I sort of knew what kind of player he was by the way he skates and the offense, but little things in the defensive zone are things that you don't pick up until you play with a guy for a couple games and then you start to read off that. We're starting to get there."
But again, it's hard to know how much time Hannan and Green will play together once Schultz and even Tom Poti return. It's definitely not a bad thing to have the two grow familiar with each other for whenever the situation requires it, though.
| December 28, 2010; 12:43 PM ET
Categories: Jeff Schultz, Mike Green, Scott Hannan
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