Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?

Monday, October 15, 2007

If At First You Don't Succeed, Try New D Pairings

Craig Custance reports on his beat blog that the top defensive pairing of Zhitnik and Havelid will be split up and Havelid will pair with Enstrom and Zhitnik with McCarthy (Klee and Exelby are to remain together).

The official reasoning is that Zhitnik and Havelid are both "too quiet" on the ice and need to play with more vocal partners. If the ability to talk out the ice is so crucial, wouldn't Aaron Ward be an All-Star defensemen?

Havelid has not been handling the puck cleanly at times and I like pairing him with Enstrom who is very good with the puck. If the puck is dumped in on Havelid's side he should be able to reverse it over to Enstrom for a good breakout pass.

I'm not so sure what to make of the Zhitnik-McCarthy pairing. But I like the fact that something new is being tried. All of top four have schorched by the opposition in the first five games. It wasn't working so trying new combinations makes some sense.

The really big question is how the ice time will be distributed. Will all three pairings see relatively equal time of Coach Hartley pick out one as his top pairing and put them on against the Briere-Gagne line? Personally I'm curious to see how Enstrom matches up with Briere--both guys are smallish and very skilled. Enstrom has the wheels to stay with Briere and speed and positioning will probably be more important than size against that line.

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