Nashville’s defensive setup was fairly easy when people weren’t hurt last year. Josi-Ellis, Subban-Ekholm, Irwin-Weber. Things change this season due to the addition of Alexei Emelin. Emelin makes five, and the re-emergence of Anthony Bitetto means there are three guys fighting for one spot most nights.
My colleague George Matarangas looked at the back side of the defense last week. He showed us that Matt Irwin was the superior defender out of the choices. I expect the coaching staff knows this & Irwin will get most of the starts out of the trio. He figured things out & had his best NHL season by far in 2016-17. He loaded up on the hits & blocks last season on the third line. He had a plus-minus of +15. Good things happened when Matt Irwin was on the ice and that should continue this season.