This article is part of our Blue Line Buzz series.
The proverbial flood gates have really opened with top trade bait Kevin Shattenkirk getting shipped to Washington, a surprise destination amidst all the talk about him going to Broadway. That still could happen in the summer, but in the meantime the Caps have the best right-side defense in the league, with Matt Niskanen and John Carlson holding down the top two spots. That makes Shattenkirk just about the most over-qualified third-pairing defenseman in the league, but like Justin Schultz in Pittsburgh, he's stepping into an ideal situation where he doesn't have to worry about even-strength matchups and just concentrate on firing pucks on the power play. The Caps power play, by the way, currently ranks sixth, but is just one percent shy of Toronto (!) for the league lead, and should certainly rank in the top five by the end of the season. Past history has shown that teams with excellent special teams go far in the playoffs... but then again, the Caps power play has been brilliant and has finished in the top five every year since the 2011-12 season, and we all know how those playoff runs have turned out.
It's playoff time for Ron Hainsey! Even with Justin Schultz returning from a concussion, the Penguins were still missing bodies on defense with Trevor Daley going on injured reserve after knee surgery. If healthy, the Pens are looking at a group with Hainsey, Schultz, Daley, Kris Letang, Ian Cole, Brian Dumoulin, Olli Maatta and