One of the things I most looked forward to for the start of the regular season was seeing where Rod Brind’Amour’s head was with regard to lineup and also player usage/deployment.
Following on a few comments in my recap for Thursday’s 2-1 overtime loss, today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes an early look at the blue line and its current and projected usage.
On Thursday, the Hurricanes went with Jaccob Slavin/Dougie Hamilton, Calvin de Haan/Justin Faulk and Brett Pesce/Trevor van Riemsdyk with Haydn Fleury as the extra.
Quick thoughts on the current pairings
I am on record as preferring to keep Slavin and Pese together. Behind that, I figured de Haan/Hamilton for a second pairing, and then Faulk with either Fleury or van Riemsdyk. That said, I am open-mindedly watching the current group.
From watching Dougie Hamilton for a couple weeks now, he is a puck carrier who could pair with a pure stay-home type. Pesce could qualify but he is a right shot and therefore not a fit. De Haan is another whose tendency is to sit behind the play as s guard.
I hope Brind’Amour keeps Fleury in the mix, as I thought he had a strong preseason.
Thursday ice time and deployment
Justin Faulk led the team with 21:24 of ice time and also with 3:59 of power play ice time.
Dougie Hamilton was oddly fourth in ice time among the blue liners and logged only 0:25 of power play ice time not really having a regular place on either power play unit.
Brind’Amour showed a preference for using Pesce/van Riemsdyk with Staal’s line, so this could turn out to be just like from a couple years ago when Peters built a maxed out group of five for match ups at home and then had to separate them on the road for balance.
The conspiracy theory
Is it possible that the Hurricanes are up to a couple things at once on defense?
If the Hurricanes do in fact prefer to trade Justin Faulk, then ideal would be to boost him up as much as possible to increase trade value?
Certainly, there are other potentially simpler explanations, but I think this possibility is interesting.
First, the team has paired Faulk with de Haan who could make a case for being the soundest support defenseman available. Then Faulk is logging major minutes on the power play which has the potential to boost his scoring. Finally, Brind’Amour seemed to steer most of the harder minutes to van Riemsdyk/Pesce.
If you wanted to devise the perfect situation for Faulk to thrive and boost his play and trade value I think the current lineup and usage are pretty much on target.