VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Calvin de Haan and Travis Hamonic have played together often over de Haan’s four-plus seasons, but Tuesday was the first time they started a game together this season.
They’ve been very good together, with an on-ice shots for/against percentage of 52.7 when paired. They were just as good on Tuesday, when Doug Weight tried to get de Haan and Hamonic out against Connor McDavid’s line as often as he could.
That wasn’t as often as Weight would have liked, given the Isles being on the road and not having the final change after a whistle. But perhaps it was no coincidence that Hamonic had his best game of the three he’s played since returning from a 24-game absence due to a knee injury playing alongside de Haan, who had played almost exclusively this season with Dennis Seidenberg.
“I would imagine we’d try to keep it going,” Weight said after practice here on Wednesday with the Isles facing the Canucks on Thursday. “With our D, 4 and 44 have been good most of the year. We’re trying to find the best niche. But I’m all about the fact that (de Haan and Hamonic) were good last night and maybe they can develop some good chemistry together. I thought they did a heck of a job.”
They weren’t alone. Thomas Hickey saved a goal when he got a stick on Patrick Maroon’s tap-in try off a ridiculous feed from McDavid. Thomas Greiss, who may get his eighth straight start on this road trip Thursday, robbed Leon Draisaitl in the second period off another great pass from McDavid.
“I thought everyone that was out there against his line did a good job,” de Haan said. “You’re never going to completely shut him down, he’s too good for that. But no matter who was out there, the whole D really had a strong game.”
Johnny Boychuk will miss his third straight game on Thursday due to a bruised right ankle/foot from a blocked shot on Friday in Chicago, so Weight is trying to figure out who can be his shutdown pair and who else works best with whom. Hickey and Seidenberg worked well together on Tuesday and Nick Leddy and Adam Pelech were sharp.
“I just think we have a good amount of depth on the back end,” de Haan said. “Even the guys that aren’t in the lineup regularly are NHL players and it’s a good thing to have. We have a lot of guys who can do whatever we need.”
Notes & quotes: Weight said Shane Prince (ankle) flew home from Edmonton on Wednesday and will miss some time. Stephen Gionta will get back into the lineup as the only available forward . . . Andrew Ladd spent Wednesday in Calgary being honored by his Western League team, which raised a banner in Ladd’s honor prior to its game.