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Posted at 12:43 PM ET, 12/28/2010

Scott Hannan, Mike Green starting to mesh, but Jeff Schultz could soon be back in the mix

By Katie Carrera

(Photos by The Washington Post)


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.

By Katie Carrera  | December 28, 2010; 12:43 PM ET
Categories:  Jeff Schultz, Mike Green, Scott Hannan  
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Next: Boudreau: Alex Ovechkin's slow stretch no cause for alarm

Comments

So do we cheer for Pitt or Atlanta tonight? I have always said my favorite team is the Caps and whoever is playing the Pens, but with the SE so close this season, I might have to readjust that thinking for tonight.

Posted by: capscoach | December 28, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I'd leave the Hannan/Green pair alone. We already know what the 55/52 pair can do and they weren't exactly a shutdown defensive pair.

I'd leave them alone for at least a few more weeks to see if they can develop more chemistry.

Posted by: joek443 | December 28, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

I only hope the Pitt/Atl game doesn't go to OT.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 28, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

agreed!

Posted by: capscoach | December 28, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

@joek443

The negative with that is that would pair Schulz and Erskine(assuming Alzner/Carlson stay together, which they should). Hannan is more mobile than both of those players and could play with either one, but a pairing of Erskine and Schulz is scary. Their lack of speed and quickness would probably get abused and their puck retreival would likely be poor.

If Poti was available then I would be for keeping Hannan playing with Green, and having either Schulz or Erskine play with Poti on the 3rd pairing(as much as people hate Poti, you need some mobility on a defensive pairing).

Posted by: sgm3 | December 28, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I am also in favor of leaving Hannan and Green paired together for a bit longer as they have been playing well and Green seems to be back on track to being a good player. Also, players from other teams wanting to go after Green need to be a bit more concerned with Hannan than they are with Schultz.

Posted by: MReilly9 | December 28, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

seriously---making sure we get green and schultz get back together? Why?

hard to forget last year's playoffs watching them allow MTL to do as they pleased in the offensive zone.

not excactly breaking up Fort Knox--Green played better against PITT than he has in a LONG time

scary to see it, but the caps go as he goes--when green is on, they're awfully tough to beat.

when is is a dunce (ie in the playoffs)--team goes down an entire notch

Posted by: fnkyniedls | December 28, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

when HE is a dunce :)

Posted by: fnkyniedls | December 28, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Assume all D healthy. So its either:

52/23
74/27
3/55

or

52/55
-
3/23

I'm not sure either of those is better or worse than the other. Personally, I think Green's defensive skills have improved and is fine with Sarge. Carlson is the one most prone to D errors these days, so I might go with:

52/55
74/23
3/27

The first two are good mix of offensive and stay at home and the third is pretty solid.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | December 28, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

@oldtimehockey

The pairing you propose make sense, but I would not want to split the Alzner/Carlson pair. Yes, Carlson is prone to some mistakes, but I think the chemistry they have from playing with each other for a few years now is a big benefit. Barring injury, I think that paring should remain untouched all year and next year as well.

I love the idea of having them continually playing with each other and becoming(if they aren't already) the Caps clear cut 1st pair for the long future. The chemistry they have and will have from playing with each other will just make that pairing even better.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 28, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Nothing to decide...Hannan and Green stay as a pair.

Posted by: la_terp | December 28, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

It'll be real interesting to see where Rolston lands. He sure could help us out in the 2C spot. NJ has placed him on re-entry waivers so we'd be on the hook for 1/2 his remaining salary which is 5M thru next year. At 2.5M he's more than worth it. He's very fast, plays in all situations especially short handed, can play C or W and oh yeah, has some hardware so he knows what it takes to get there.

I doubt he's around though when it comes our spot to pick. He would be a solid pickup if he did make it to us.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | December 28, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Interesting dilemma regarding the PIT/ATL game.

Here's my take:

1) It's one (1) game, and is thus by itself unlikely to be the difference by which the Caps make--or (God forbid) don't make--it into the playoffs. Smart money says the Caps will make it in, though--one way or another. Let the chips fall where they may vis-รก-vis the Division standings.

2) The Caps are (we all hope) out of the "schneid" and will continue to manufacture wins more often than not as the season progresses.

3) I would thoroughly enjoy seeing the locker room effects of a second consecutive (gasp!) Pittsburgh loss on Penguins/Capitals 24/7.

4) The vast majority of us hate the Penguins with the White-Hot Intensity of a Thousand Suns. Atlanta? Though they have given us "fits" so far this season, not so much.


ergo: the Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend...Go Thrashers!

Posted by: Rhino40 | December 28, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

@pokerface1208

I thought Rolston is best used on the wing? If so, I do not think the Caps should acquire him with the goal of playing him at center. If the Caps want a center, then they should get a full-time center.

So unless there are no other options at center(I think there will be some options), the Caps, IMO, should only acquire Rolston if they intend to play him at wing(Rolston's strength).

Posted by: sgm3 | December 28, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

how many more games before Poti and Schultz get crammed back into this lineup?

i better watch as many games as i can now before that happens. This is the funnest lineup I've seen in a while. And it ain't THAT fun.

good to see the old Laich back as well. Its a wonder what you can get a player to accomplish by sometimes sending a negative but constructive msg to him. It helped Green's game, and it was a wakeup call to Brooks.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 28, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1: "funnest"= not a word. Its like "refudiate" but for even more retarded people. Its good to see you can almost use full sentences now, though. Are you from Pittsburgh originally?

Posted by: oldtimehockey | December 28, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

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