Kevin Klein is a little bit like the bingo free square.
Since making the leap to the NHL full-time in 2008, the Predators defenseman has played with a number of defensive partners – notably Francis Bouillon, Dan Hamhuis and Roman Josi.
At the start of the 2013 season, Klein has yet another defensive partner – veteran defenseman Scott Hannan.
Hannan, a veteran of over 900 NHL games, has been around the block a time or two. In fact, he was an NHL All Star in 2004.
Through their first three games together, Klein and Hannan have been on ice for 3 of the 7 goals their opponents have scored. However, both are in the top ten in shots blocked so far in the extremely young season, combining for 16 in just 3 games.
“He’s very vocal, so it makes it easy,” Klein said. “He’s very steady back there. I thought for the most part we gelled pretty easily. There’s still some things we need to work on, but that’s just the rough stuff of not playing for a while.”
Compared to some of Klein’s previous defensive partners, Hannan is definitely less likely to rush in and score a goal.
“Josi is a fantastic skater and likes to get up the ice a little more,” Klein said. “(Hannan) is different. He plays a real physical game, which is awesome. He talks a lot, he does the simple things really well. He’s always there to back it up. He’s a great partner to work in unison with.”
While the two still clearly have adjusting to do on the ice, Hannan wasted no time standing up for his new defensive partner. Around halfway through the first period in the season opener against Columbus, the Blue Jackets’ Derek Dorsett checked Klein hard into the boards. Hannan immediately rushed in and dropped the gloves with Dorsett.
“He’s an all-around good team guy,” Klein said. “I told him he didn’t have to do that. It was a good hit. We both went in for the puck and he got the better of me. When you haven’t been going for the puck full-force, you’re not really expecting that. You definitely love to see a guy stick up for you in that situation, I’d do the same for him. It just shows what a character guy he is.”
Nashville head coach Barry Trotz was also pleased with his new defenseman standing up for Klein.
“That’s exactly what you want,” Trotz said. “We’ve got to protect each other. We’ve got to stick up for each other. Scott is a veteran player.”
Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua