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Donovan Learning From Experienced D-partner

Monday, 09.23.2013 / 12:06 PM / News
By Travis Betts
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Donovan Learning From Experienced D-partner
Defensemen Matt Donovan and Andrew MacDonald have been paired together through two preseason games
Matt Donovan led AHL Bridgeport defensemen in goals (14), assists (34) and points (48) a season ago, but hopes to transition to the NHL in 2013-14 (Photo: Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images Sport).

Life’s three certainties (according to Long Islanders): Death, taxes and the defense pairing of Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic.

But this year’s training camp has altered one of those. MacDonald, entering his sixth year with the club, has been paired with up-and-coming blueliner Matt Donovan for much of camp, including two of the team’s preseason games.

Despite being paired with the same defense partner for most of the last three seasons, MacDonald says the experiment has gone smoothly so far.

“I think he (Donovan) learns pretty quickly and has picked up on everything the coaches wanted him to do,” MacDonald said. “He's a smart kid and has good instincts. So far it's been very easy.”

Donovan, who paced AHL Bridgeport defenseman last season in all offensive categories, led the Sound Tigers with 34 assists and ranked third with 48 points. MacDonald believes the 23-year-old can provide an offensive threat at the NHL level.

“Donovan likes to jump up in the play a bit and he'll create a lot more offensively,” MacDonald said. “With Travis, we were more likely to stay back and concentrate on defense because we were often up against the top line. It's hard to be really offense-oriented in that situation.”

Donovan played three games with the Islanders at the end of the 2011-12 season, but wants to make the full-time jump to the NHL this time around. Because of the seamless philosophies between the Islanders and their AHL affiliate, Donovan says the adjustments thus far in camp have been minimal.

“It's pretty much exactly the same playing style,” Donovan said. “I played for Coach (Brent) Thompson in Bridgeport a couple of seasons ago so I know his expectations and what he likes. It's been easy so far.”

Though MacDonald says he hasn’t had a lot of advice to give the rookie, Donovan has absorbed all the lessons from his camp defense partner.

“He talks to me a lot and tells me what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong,” Donovan said. “Coach Thompson makes it easy also. He likes to talk and coach a lot.”

Nothing indicates that this camp experiment will be a permanent change, but a two-week preseason schedule has provided head coach Jack Capuano with the ability to tinker with lines and defense pairings. Capuano has said that there are spots on the back end open for competition, and Donovan is doing everything possible to keep his name in the mix.

“I've been working hard and focusing every day,” Donovan said. “The two games I played didn't go our way, but I think I played pretty well and I just have to keep working hard and hopefully I make the team.”

Two preseason games doesn’t give the MacDonald-Donovan pairing the same stability as the IRS or the Grim Reaper, but given MacDonald’s proven ability to help develop a young defensive partner into a high-end talent, Long Islanders should embrace the new duo.

SCHEDULE

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 64 30 35 4 65
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 64 14 27 22 41
B. Nelson 64 17 19 7 36
F. Nielsen 64 11 25 12 36
A. Lee 58 20 13 13 33
J. Bailey 52 12 19 10 31
J. Boychuk 54 7 23 16 30
N. Leddy 64 8 18 15 26
T. Hamonic 54 4 21 15 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 33 13 0 .911 2.46
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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