The Carolina Hurricanes’ Defense is a Budding Juggernaut

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RALEIGH, NC – OCTOBER 12: Carolina Hurricanes Defenceman Dougie Hamilton (19) has fun in an interview with FOX Sports during warmups before a game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Carolina Hurricanes on October 12, 2019 at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. (Photo by John McCreary/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Carolina Hurricanes’ defensive corps has been touted for a few years now.  The trade of a lifelong member, new additions getting acclimated, and a top-6 regular on the shelf, they have not slowed down.  In fact, they’ve continued to ascend.

First things first: I am completely weirded out seeing Justin Faulk in a jersey that doesn’t belong to the Carolina Hurricanes.  After eight seasons of highs and lows, the seemingly endless trade rumors came to fruition and Faulk was shipped off to the St. Louis Blues.

Consistently a leader in ice time and the quarterback of the top power-play unit, his departure left a sizeable hole on the blueline.  How would the Hurricanes respond to his absence?

Through five games, the answer is “really, really well.”  Before we jump into the defensive pairings, let’s take a quick look at the games so far.

The season opener against the Montreal Canadiens was a bit of a mixed bag, allowing 36 shots against, 9 of which came from the low to mid slot, including all 3 of Montreal’s goals.  There were lapses that led to quality chances, though nothing wholly unexpected for the first game of a new season.

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Most importantly, when the game was on the line, they held the fort and got the team into a shootout.  Once there, Dougie Hamilton netted the only goal and Petr Mrazek shut down every Canadien shooter he faced.

In the second game, a rematch of last spring’s playoff opener, the defense was even more impressive against the reigning division champion Washington Capitals.  The trio of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and John Carlson was held without a point.

While they did get chances, Carolina’s defense did an excellent job of reducing high-danger opportunities.  When they did come, goalie James Reimer was there to deny them.  The Hurricanes walked away with their second consecutive victory and the defense was showing signs of being better than expected.

The third game of the season, against the offensively loaded Tampa Bay Lightning, yielded arguably the best performance of the young campaign.  Yes, the Lightning were without Brayden Point, but still boasted offensive threats such as Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, and two-time 20 goal scorer Yanni Gourde.

The Carolina Hurricanes reacted to this challenge by allowing a paltry 13 shots.  After Stamkos scored late in the first period, Tampa was held without a shot on goal for the next 25:52 of game time.

Game four against the Florida Panthers wasn’t as pretty as its predecessors.  Newcomer Joel Edmundson committed a terrible turnover that led directly to a Florida goal and the Hurricanes surrendered 50 shots.

That said, this game was much more about Carolina’s offense and, at the end of the day, the Hurricanes skated off with a 6-3 victory and a 4-0 start to the season.  They followed this up by limiting the New York Islanders to 19 shots and two goals, completely neutralizing Islanders phenom Matt Barzal.

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