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Visnovsky-Hickey pairing playing big

Thomas Hickey of the Islanders skates against Quinton

Thomas Hickey of the Islanders skates against Quinton Howden of the Florida Panthers in a hockey game at Nassau Coliseum. (April 16, 2013) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Andrew MacDonald jokingly called Lubomir Visnovsky and Thomas Hickey the Isles’ “Twin Towers” defense pair.

But the 5-10 Visnovsky and the 5-10 Hickey have been perhaps the Isles’ steadiest defense pair at even strength. Visnovsky leads the Isles with a plus-12 rating and Hickey is right behind at plus-10.

Five or 10 years ago, no NHL coach would dream of pairing two under 6-foot defensemen together.

The NHL game has changed, though, and the pairing works.

“It’s about puck possession and about being on the right side of the puck,” Hickey said. “When you have the puck and you can move it quickly, that’s as important as the physical side.”

Visnovsky and Hickey don’t get the top-forward assignments that MacDonald and Travis Hamonic get, but the pair do have the best Corsi rating -- an advanced statistic that measures all shots attempted vs. all shots given up -- of any Islanders. So, they’re not just surviving, they’re thriving.

“They start to feel comfortable with one another,” coach Jack Capuano said, "and that increases their confidence."

New York Sports