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Best defense pairing in the Central Division?

September 3, 2019, 11:49 AM ET [9 Comments]
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In this edition of the hotstove, we share our thoughts on the best defense pairing in the Central Division.

Todd Cordell

John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen. Dallas' two best defenders didn't play a *ton* together – 343 minutes at 5v5 – but they were legitimately as dominant as anyone when were paired up. The Stars controlled an insane 62% of the attempts, 62% of the expected goals and 69% of the actual goals with Klingberg+Heiskanen on the ice at 5v5. No pairing in the NHL that played regularly garnered results like that.

Considering both players are tailor made for the modern NHL – they can skate, move the puck, create in-zone offense, and defend one-on-one – it shouldn't be surprising they were so good.

With Klingberg in his prime, and Heiskanen still improving, it's fun to think about how good they could be over the next few years.

James Tanner

Imagine watching Miro Heiskanen up close, every day, in games, in practice, and thinking "I should disregard everything that has changed in the NHL for the last decade and stick him with Roman Polak." It's the kind of thinking that says "anyone can coach in the NHL." Heiskanen played over 900 minutes with Roman Polak and put up a terrible 44% corsi and differentials below 50% across the board.

But when Heiskanen, who is going to be a superstar, got on the ice with anyone else he got 53% of the puck possession and 54% of the goals. In 300 minutes with Klingberg they had a ridiculous 62% Corsi, while scoring nearly 70% of the goals. Those numbers are absolutely terrifying. When the stars use this combo, it's something approaching the best in the NHL.

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