With the new season and training camp a little more than a month away, new head coach Paul MacLean has been tinkering with the forward lines and defensive pairings hoping to find the right mix. With last year’s roster finishing in the bottom five in most categories, any pairings and lines from last year can be thrown out the window as MacLean will start from scratch.
However, one defensive pairing that emerged last season was a shutdown unit of Chris Phillips and Brian Lee. These two seemed to find chemistry as Phillips was steady in his end and Lee was a smooth skater who could move the puck. Lee, who has never been able to find his niche in Ottawa, played well in a defensive role.
Without getting into a huge debate over pairings, I think a great pairing for this upcoming season would be that of Erik Karlsson and Brian Lee. Let’s take a look at why these two would be good together.
To begin, I think a defensive pairing should blend together the talents of an offensive defenseman with those of a defensive defenseman. If Karlsson and Lee were paired together, that would leave Sergei Gonchar teamed with Chris Phillips and Filip Kuba lining up with Matt Carkner.
The defensive pairing with Karlsson and Lee would be very mobile as both are excellent skaters. Both would be able to evade oncoming fore checkers and would be able to skate their way out of trouble. As skating is one of the most important abilities in a hockey players repertoire, this would be the defining trait of this pairing.
Karlsson would still be counted on to generate offense and continue to build off his 45 point campaign from last season. Lee would be the defensive defenseman of the pair and be counted on to cover Ottawa’s end zone.
Lee showed last year that he can be effective if given a defined role and the chance to roll with it. I think if these two were paired together, and if Lee keeps it simple and makes the easy plays, these two can be an effective pairing.
When looking at other successful pairings, like Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook of the Chicago Blackhawks, both players are excellent skaters and both can move the puck very well. Not to say that a Karlsson and Lee pairing are comparable to Keith and Seabrook, but it could be something to strive for.
As Ottawa continues with their rebuild, this is a time for experimentation and for seeing what sticks against the wall. Lee is probably not in the long-term plans of Ottawa. If he plays the whole year alongside Phillips as the teams shutdown tandem, will that guarantee Lee that he won’t be replaced next season by Jared Cowen? This is why I suggest trying Lee alongside Karlsson and seeing if these two can be the quick, puck moving pair I think they can be.
Well Sens Army, what do you think?
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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