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Joslin Getting Big Minutes on Blue Line

Sunday, 03.20.2011 / 6:55 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Joslin Getting Big Minutes on Blue Line
A little over a week ago, Derek Joslin wasn’t playing. Now, he’s getting about all the minutes he can handle.

The Hurricanes’ defenseman, who turned 24 on St. Patrick’s Day, has set new career highs in minutes played in each of his last two contests. He had never hit the 20-minute mark in the NHL before playing 20:36 against the Toronto Maple Leafs last Wednesday. He followed that up with 22:39 in the team’s overtime win against the New York Islanders two days later.

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Not bad for a player who had been a healthy scratch for the first five games of March.

“I always knew I could do it at this level,” said Joslin. “I just needed someone to give me that opportunity.”

The majority of his minutes have been good ones. Joslin, acquired from the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 18, has yet to post a negative plus/minus rating in any game as a Hurricane, with an overall rating of plus-6 in just seven games of work. He’s shown a willingness to mix it up with the opposition and play physical in front his net, and has even chipped in 3 assists since joining the team.

“He blocks shots, he’s a big body at five-on-five and he gets the puck through pretty good on the power play,” said coach Paul Maurice. “We’re pretty happy with him, and he’ll only get better.”

Joslin’s increased minutes came with his increased role on special teams. He would occasionally kill penalties with the Sharks, but had never before played on an NHL power play until the Hurricanes began using him there last week. While his primary goal will still be preventing goals, he may be becoming more of a two-way threat than previously given credit for.

“He’s showing signs as a young defenseman that he can move and move with the puck,” said Maurice. “If he has a little offensive upside that would be good too, but we really like what we’ve seen so far.”

Joslin’s strong play ever since he arrived on a red-eye flight from San Jose to make his debut on two hours sleep made his removal from the everyday lineup somewhat difficult. When the Hurricanes acquired Bryan Allen, his current defensive partner, in a trade with Florida, Joslin became the seventh defenseman on a team that dresses six. He wouldn’t get back in until Jamie McBain, the only defenseman on the team younger than Joslin, suffered a shoulder injury in Washington on March 11.

“It is frustrating, but as a young guy you go through the ropes,” said Joslin of watching games rather than playing them. “I knew it was a numbers game and that Bryan Allen is a veteran who helps this team tremendously.”

“We just kept saying the same thing to him,” said Maurice. “‘We like you and we like your play on such a short sample of games.’ He worked hard, never complained, put himself in a position to play well and would make it a very difficult decision if we had to take somebody else out to put McBain back in.”

That decision may occur much sooner than expected. Originally given a 3-4 week timeline that would have had him questionable to return by the end of the regular season, McBain practiced with the team on Sunday and, although he hasn’t been cleared for contact and didn’t attempt any hard shots, looks to be healing more quickly than anticipated.

“It’s one or two weeks ahead of what we had projected,” said McBain. “It’s just good to get out there, and there was progress even in practice with learning how much pressure I was able to put on the puck.”

“He’s probably on the early part of his curve,” said Maurice. “He’s probably closer to two (weeks) than three, but before he goes back in the lineup he’s still got a lot of work to do.”

If McBain is cleared to play and the Hurricanes decide to use him, there won’t be any clear choice as to which defenseman might exit the lineup to make room. It could very well end up being Joslin once again, although the Canes could elect to dress all seven of their quality blue liners.

Whatever happens, Joslin, as he has been throughout his NHL career, will be prepared for it.

“I’ve gone through it all year,” he said. “When your number is called, you’ve got to be able to perform. I have to play every game like it’s my last.”


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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