One of the things Coach Bruce Boudreau said he noticed immediately about trade acquisition Scott Hannan when the veteran defenseman was on the ice in his first game with the Capitals Thursday night in Dallas is that he likes to talk. In addition to showing an ability to quickly pick up Washington's systems, Hannan directed traffic on the ice and made sure there was plenty of communication with his new teammates.
"One thing about Scott, and again it's first impressions, is he talks a lot. We don't have a lot of talkative guys back there," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "John Erskine and Tom Poti are pretty quiet, and Jeff Schultz, between the three of them if you don't talk to them they're not going to talk to you. Scott's a guy that on the ice he's a director and a general and he did a lot of good things."
Said Hannan: "I like to communicate, looking around and trying to help the people out there on the ice as much as I can. It helps me out too when you're trying to read the play and you're trying to help out. The puck can go any place and talk can sort out a lot of things there on the ice. I was trying to do that as much as I can."
Boudreau said he was impressed with how quickly Hannan adapted to the Capitals' schemes both at even strength and on the penalty kill, where Hannan played a team-high 4 minutes and 50 seconds. Rather than go easy on Hannan, Boudreau opted to "throw him to the sharks" to see if he could swim with the abundance of shorthanded ice time and regular responsibilities.
Blending into the penalty killing unit Hannan said, wasn't too difficult because he's familiar with high-pressure strategies that have become prevalent across the league. Although there were some adjustments, for someone who has spent his career logging significant time on the penalty kill it was just a matter of getting out there.
"I liked it," Hannan said of Washington's penalty kill strategy. "Most penalty kills in the league now are a lot of pressure. I thought we did a good job of trying to stay on them and not let them make too many good plays. It's a little bit different when they're coming down on us, but it's a quick adjustment."
Boudreau said he didn't expect Tom Poti to miss anywhere near the amount of time he did earlier this season with this latest groin strain and when he's back in the lineup odds are he'll be paired with Hannan. With defensive pairings in Schultz and Mike Green, and Karl Alzner and John Carlson that are working well, Boudreau doesn't want to tinker with them much and he believes a tandem of shut-down veterans might suit the Capitals well.
"They're both experienced," Boudreau said when asked why he thinks Hannan and Poti will make a good pairing. "They both played a lot they both can play the right side and they're both really good defensive defensemen when they're on top of their game. I don't think they'll get rattled in a situation where everybody around you is going crazy, I think they'll keep their wits about them."
--The Capitals did not practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex today but held some team meetings in preparation for Saturday's game against Atlanta. There was a new on-site addition at the rink, though, as the HBO camera crews for "24/7" have arrived a little early to begin their full documentation of the Capitals' run-up to the Winter Classic.