Today’s Daily Cup of Joe includes my thoughts on Phil DiGiuseppe’s recall and a few other random notes that have not made it into other posts:
I was a little surprised (not astounded) to see DiGiuseppe sent back to Charlotte upon returning from his concussion. With Gerbe also returning from injury, I think the thought was to get both back into action quickly, so Gerbe got the NHL slot and DiGiuseppe could go to Charlotte without clearing waivers. But the Canes have been having intermittent problems scoring of late, so it seemed to make sense to to get DiGiuseppe and his 8 points in 14 games and decent chemistry right back into the Canes lineup. After 2 losses and only 2 goals, DiGiuseppe is now back int he NHL mix.
As arguably the #9 forward, I think DiGiuseppe’s role in the Canes strong run might be underestimated. His per game scoring pace is only a tiny bit behind Victor Rask, Eric Staal and Kris Versteeg who lead Canes forwards. DiGiuseppe played with Skinner during the stretch when he was on fire. Skinner has 10 of his goals in the 14 games that DiGiuseppe has played (mostly with Skinner). DiGiuseppe has been directly involved in a number of Skinner scoring plays, but at a more basic level I think he adds a line mate who can play at Skinner’s pace, so Skinner does not enter the offensive zone 1v1 or 1v2 as much.
Best guess is that Phil DiGiuseppe is immediately reinserted into the right wing slot with Rask and Skinner for Thursday’s game.
Is it time to separate Hanifin and Faulk on the power play?
About 6 weeks ago a new wrinkle for the Canes struggling power play was a move to task Noah Hanifin with carrying the puck up the ice and quarterbacking the entry. He was a quick study and the Canes power play immediately benefited by spending significantly more power play time with the possession of the puck in the offensive zone. The scoring came too from a broader variety of goal sources past the Justin Faulk 1-man show from earlier in the season. But along the way, Justin Faulk went quiet. After scoring 12 power play goals in 30 games to start the season, Faulk has not scored a single power play goal in the past 17 games roughly since he was paired with Hanifin on the first power play unit.
So if Hanifin is successfully gaining zone entry and the power play is generally performing better, what explains Faulk’s dramatic power outage? I think a couple things:
1-He was simply due to cool down at some point.
2-Teams are cheating a bit to take away his shot.
3- Hanifin is not the greatest shooting option across from him at this early stage of his career which makes it possible to cheat a bit up top mostly without paying a price.
If I was coaching the Canes power play, I would try using Hanifin’s entry capabilities with the second unit and see if playing Liles with Faulk can either help get Faulk more shooting lanes or possibly see Liles capitalize on some shooting opportunities with such an emphasis on taking away Faulk.
Big game Thursday
I think Thursday’s game in Toronto sets up as a big 1. It is not time to panic after a 2-game losing streak (with an OTL point in the first loss), but I think that it is important for the Canes to at least keep pace without a big losing streak over the last 4 games before the all-star break. With a Friday game against a rested Rangers team and a finale against a red hot Blackhawks team on Tuesday, it would be great to get 2 points Thursday to quickly cut the losing streak short and push a game closer to the break in a points-positive way.