As Coach Bruce Boudreau was quick to point out after practice this morning, although the Capitals have lost one of their leading shot-blockers and ice-time leader on the penalty kill with Jeff Schultz out for four to six weeks, Scott Hannan excels in that same role.
Beginning with Boudreau's move to put Hannan alongside Mike Green in a defensive pairing, look for the newly-acquired veteran to pick up more minutes at even strength and while shorthanded as Washington tries to make up for Schultz's absence.
"The one good thing about [Schultz's injury] is you've got Hannan now who always leads his team in blocks and shorthanded playing," Boudreau said. "It's not ideal because you don't have what you perceive as... the lineup you want on the ice [all the time] but at the same time we've got a very valuable guy that we just made a deal for."
By having such a similar player to place alongside him, Green doesn't expect there to be too much of an adjustment to playing as long as the two communicate well, which is something that isn't too difficult with Hannan.
"It's great, actually," Green said of playing with a talkative defensive partner. "I haven't really played with a guy like that for a long time so it's going to be very helpful for myself and the team.... [Hannan's] got a lot more experience and anything he says I listen to. I'm just a sponge here soaking up the information and knowledge that he can give me."
The only vocal defenseman that Green can recall playing with prior to Hannan was a few games with Brendan Witt in 2005-06, but Green only spent 22 games in Washington that season.
Boudreau said he hopes that Hannan's presence may help to even out Green's game more going forward as the two-time Norris Trophy candidate has shifted into a primarily defensive gear this season. Hannan has spent time playing with an offensive minded defenseman before in Colorado's John-Michael Liles.
Green's "taking it from one extreme to the other where he's now totally defensive and not trying to get points but he's doing a very good job at what he's doing," Boudreau said. "If we want him to find a better balance then Scott's the right guy to have there."
I'll have more on how the Capitals will adjust without Schultz for tomorrow's paper, so keep an eye out for that.
--Schultz, who is left-handed, fractured his right thumb and is now wearing a cast on his wrist. He can still skate and work out, but he can't grip a stick. The injury occurred late in the second period on Monday when a shot by Toronto's Luke Schenn bounced up Schultz's stick and impacted the top of his thumb pushing it down toward his hand.
"It's real hard; the team is kind of struggling right now, I want to be out there and help them get out of it but it will give my body a bit of a rest here," said Schultz, who added that he doesn't have any indication whether he'll be out closer to four weeks or six. "It all depends on how quickly my body heals."
Schultz will likely go on long-term injured reserve, which requires he miss a minimum of 10 games or 24 days.
--Matt Hendricks was bothered by a bruise in practice this morning and Boudreau told him to take the rest of the day off.
--The groin strain that sidelined Tyler Sloan previously this season is why the defenseman is back on injured reserve. Although he's participated in practice with the injury, he's not ready to test it in a game yet and doesn't know if he would be available for the earliest date he could come off IR Sunday against the Rangers.