Andy Greene, Damon Severson forming outstanding top defensive pairing


Coming into the season, the New Jersey Devils knew that Andy Greene was going to be their top defenseman. In the offseason, they signed him to a five-year extension worth $25 million. Greene has come a long way since being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2006 out of Miami (OH). His first few seasons with the Devils, he never seemed to put his entire game together. There was always flashes of a strong two-way game from the young defenseman, but he couldn’t find the consistency needed to become a mainstay on the blue line. Then in 2009, Greene put everything together with a career-high six goals and 31 assists while being a +9. Greene would only top that goal total this past season when he scored eight. During the Stanley Cup Final run in 2012, Andy Greene and Mark Fayne formed the top defensive pairing that led the Devils the entire postseason.

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The only question this season was who would be paired with Greene on the top combination. Early in training camp, it appeared that Jon Merrill or Marek Zidlicky would be the ones paired with him. However, it was rookie sensation Damon Severson who won the job to start the season and has done nothing to let go of it. Severson is one of the top rookies in the NHL and an early contender for the Calder Trophy. What’s most impressive from Severson is that he made the jump straight from Juniors to the NHL. He did play in a pair of games with the Albany Devils last season, but this year is his first true professional campaign. Severson appeared to be a longshot to make the team out of camp, but he played so well the coaching staff had no choice except to give him a roster spot.

Andy Greene and Damon Severson have played together for all 11 games this season. They’re the only two Devils that have played exclusively with one another in every game. While Peter DeBoer shuffles the other two D pairs and all the line combinations, the pairing of Greene and Severson is one he doesn’t mess with. Why would he? Greene and Severson have been incredible together, and what’s amazing is that they’re doing it against the opponent’s top offensive players on a nightly basis. Greene hasn’t scored a goal and has four assists so far, but he also doesn’t get any power play time so those numbers are misleading. What’s more indicitive of how well Greene has played is his +9 rating, tops on the team. Severson, who’s second with a rating of +6, gets a ton of PP time and takes advantage of it. All four of his assists have come with the man-advantage and he’s also scored four goals which leaves him tied for second on the team with eight points. This duo gets it done both offensively and defensively and should play together for the next five plus years.

The one area Andy Greene has struggled this season is on the penalty kill, along with the rest of the team to be fair. Greene always starts the penalty kill, but he isn’t with Severson. DeBoer pairs him with Bryce Salvador and the two usually get scored on. It doesn’t make sense why Greene and Severson are paired together at even strength and do such an incredible job shutting down highly skilled offensive players, yet when it comes to the PK they get split up. Salvador is always going to be in the lineup and will always draw the PK assignment, but he should be on the second pairing. Damon Severson has earned his chance to play with Greene on the top PK unit and the Devils as a team might not be such a disaster when it comes to killing penalties if that change were to be made.