With the dust settling after the NHL Trade Deadline, the Devils kept on practicing like it's any other day. Gulitti and Chere both reported the most significant news from practice: Niclas Havelid will most likely play with Bryce Salvador on Saturday against the Islanders.
Poor Andy Greene! I felt he upped his game as of late. His time on ice in the last 5 games were 17:23, 17:52, 20:22, 17:57, and 18:32. Sutter must have felt he was playing well enough to justify the minutes. And he got a little power play time on the second unit. Alas, he is the team's #6 defenseman. He's not terribly strong his own end and he's not threatening on offense either (only 2 shots in those 5 games, come to think of it). I think, for now, he'll be the rotated defenseman with Havelid unless injuries rear their eternally ugly head.
Anyway, I think Saturday is a good day as any to give Havelid his debut in Devils red. He seems pretty ready for it:
Havelid said the Devils' system is different than the one Thrashers used, but doesn't think it will take him long to adjust.
"I would say it is different than we did in Atlanta, but overall it's pretty easy, pretty straight forward, nothing crazy," Havelid said.
Now, what makes me scratch my head a little bit is that Salvador and Havelid will be likely paired together. I can understand Havelid on the right side, as Sutter stated:
"I know he's not right-handed, but he has played the right side for a good part of his career at this level, so he knows how to play that position," Sutter said. "I'm looking forward to him getting into the game on Saturday."
And I can even understand Havelid getting some special team minutes:
Sutter said Havelid will play on special teams right away.
"There's no reason not to," he said. "He's played on them in Atlanta. He can play in those situations."
But why are the Devils pairing these two defensive defensemen together? It's a good thing they know how to be aware in their own zone because a fast opposition could burn this group. As I understand it, Havelid's a good skater, but is he fast? Salvador is definitely not fast. Who knows if the Islanders are still rocking the Overspeed tactic (Dom?), but it wouldn't be a bad time to bring it back when these two are out there.
Moreover, neither of them are particularly adept on offense. There is a reason why they are both considered defensive defensemen, after all. Neither of them are adept at shooting nor moving up the puck ice all that well. Needless to say, I hope the forwards on the ice with them recognize to play more shallow because I doubt they'll hit consistently those long passes from the zone. Can either one of them lead a proper breakout?
Despite my initial concern, I think there are a few reasons in favor of it. Maybe the two have a chemistry forming already, and that's always important on defense. Just being well aware what your partner can do can make all the difference. Maybe Sutter wants to try out a "stopper" unit and see how well they are in their own end - a very useful second option for when the Devils need to just shut some forwards down. According to the Falconers' report on him, Havelid has often seen the opposition's best offenses and Salvador can be a rock in his own zone. Two reliable defenders put together should make a reliable pairing, no?
As always, I hope I'm wrong and the two work well enough together. I just wonder if there are better options to try. For example, I'd like to see White with Havelid, actually. White is a little more mobile and Havelid may be an upgrade over Mottau. Perhaps I'm the only one concerned about this?