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Carson Proves He Belongs

Friday, 03.19.2010 / 3:28 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Carson Proves He Belongs
It wasn’t long ago that Brett Carson took the ice as the new guy - the rookie among a group of veteran defensemen. In just a few short months, the opposite is true.

Paul Branecky
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Due to trades and injuries, Tim Gleason and Joni Pitkanen are the only defensemen on the roster that have played more games with the Hurricanes this year than Carson’s 42. With those two players absent from Friday’s practice at the RecZone, Carson suddenly found himself in a strange position as the longest-tenured blueliner on the ice.

”It’s a little bit of a shock, but the guys we’ve got in here have played games before,” said Carson, referring to players like Brian Pothier who are older but much newer to the organization. “It’s a very different D corps than when I first came here.”

Carson’s seniority won’t last too long as Pitkanen is expected to play back-to-back games this weekend in Pittsburgh and at home against Buffalo. However, even being that close is something new for the 24-year-old, who played his just his sixth NHL game as recently as December.

“He’s a veteran guy,” said coach Paul Maurice with a slight grin. “He’s sitting at the back of the bus now.”

When Joe Corvo suffered a leg laceration on November 30 and faced 8-12 weeks on the sidelines, Carson entered the mix of players from Albany in line to replace him on the roster Bryan Rodney came up first and played a few games before being reassigned, with Carson not banking on a whole lot more than that when given his chance on December 7.

”When I came up they told me to pack for two weeks, and you don’t really know what to expect for the first little while there,” he said. “It’s an ‘Am I still going to be here tomorrow?’ kind of thing.”

Tomorrow came with no visit to the coaches’ office. Then, the next day and the one after that, until those worries finally faded away.

”Eventually you have to get rid of that mindset and tell yourself that you belong here and you’re going to stay,” said Carson. “That’s kind of what I did, and it’s worked out for the best.”

Carson hopes that confidence will continue to improve, even in the offensive end. The stay-at-home defenseman, who has never scored more than 11 goals in a season dating back to his first days major junior, tied Thursday’s game against Washington with a rocket from the right point that harkened back to the days of Anton Babchuk.

“It set right into the wheelhouse and I just leaned into it,” said Carson. “It’s nice for those to go in, and I’m going to try to get some confidence on that and shoot a few more pucks.”

The Canes will also need him to use more of his 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame. With Gleason out and a more finesse-oriented Rodney set to replace the injured Alexandre Picard for at least a week, the team will need to balance out the sudden influx of puck-movers that includes the talented Jamie McBain.

”You’ve got to concentrate on being in good position when pucks are dumped in so you can use that asset and move the puck quickly,” said Maurice of the defense’s new overall dynamic. “The downside is that we’re not nearly as physical on back end as we would be with a guy like Timmy in.”


Maurice noted that Carson contributed in that area against the Capitals, which helped the Canes earn the victory over their division rivals. More of that could still help him improve as a player, even though he long ago cemented a spot on this year’s team and probably on next year’s as well.

However, from his experiences as an American Hockey League player and those nervous days earlier in the season, he knows not to get too ahead of himself.

“I just play my game,” he said. “That’s all you can do and that’s all you can control.”


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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81