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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 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
8 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
9 NJD 54 26 21 7 120 122 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 54 15 19 -13 34
J. Skinner 54 19 12 -3 31
V. Rask 52 12 19 0 31
J. Staal 54 12 19 8 31
K. Versteeg 53 10 21 1 31
E. Staal 54 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 54 8 16 -9 24
A. Nestrasil 47 7 12 0 19
J. Nordstrom 43 5 9 2 14
R. Hainsey 54 3 11 -11 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 6 .908 2.38
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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