It goes without saying this year’s West Coast swing has not been great for the Carolina Hurricanes. Especially compared to last years, when the Hurricanes looked invincible, this year’s trip as been a struggle. Anyone who has watched the quest out west thus far will notice a major problem in defense play. Fingers are being pointed to single players, and while I think that is certainly reasonable, there is some validity to the argument that it is the 4th line as a whole. In looking at that Hurricanes 3rd defensive line of Dmitry Orlov Jalen Chatfield, and Tony DeAngelo in comparison to their other lines is truly seeing a dichotomy. Just how different is that 3rd line compared to the rest of the Canes defense? What does it look like compared to the rest of the league?
One would think that with the 11-7 configuration the Hurricanes have chosen to run, the 3rd line with an extra skater would have been carrying the load for the defense. Even with it’s defensive picadillo’s, it could replenish the goals given up.
What the Hurricanes have seen thus far, however, has been a 3rd line revamped from last year’s consistency of Calvin de Haan and Jalen Chatfield and been replaced with a mercurial line, at best, living up to it’s reputation as a defensive liability with out the offensive expectations.
Jalen Chatfield, who played Saturday night on the third line with Brady Skjei in place of an injured Brett Pesce has proven the bright spot. His year seems to have picked up where it left off. But ice time as been a problem.
At an average of 11:34, Chatfield sits above only Jack Drury and Brendan Lemieux on the Hurricanes and just 9 from the bottom in the league. Starting, however, has been out of Chatfield’s hands. When he has played, on the 2nd line or as the 3rd line’s second starter, he has averaged 15.1 shifts per game. To his credit, Chatfield is the only 3rd liner without a negative night, which no other Canes defensemen can say.
The most consistent 4th line starter has been Dmitry Orlov, but that is all he has been. Consistently starting. Orlov is -10, the lowest ranking defensemen in the league in that category and lowest on the team by 4 points. His -5 against the Anaheim Ducks is the worst single night on the season for the entire team. He hasn’t had a night in the positive this season.
His 0.0 S% is of course the lowest you can get. He is 66th on the NHL charts with 8 SOG. For Comparison, Jaccob Slavin is 4th with 16. To clarify, that is 4th amoung NHL blueliners, not just the Hurricanes. Orlov is averaging 20.7 shifts per game, and 16:57 of ice time which is 79th in the league.
He does have 2 points on the year with assists in the loss to Anaheim and Saturday against Colorado. Those 2 are just one behind the injured Sebastian Aho for what that is worth.
And then there is Tony DeAngelo.
Tied for 6th on the Canes with 14 shoots, he has yet to find the back of the net in a regular season game. Not throwing DeAngelo completely under the bus, neither has Orlov or Chatfield. However, Chatfield has 80% fewer shots, and Orlov has 43% fewer. DeAngelo’s average of 14:14 minutes of ice time is 13th on the Hurricanes and 42nd from the bottom in the NHL.
But……like a bad infomercial….there’s more.
DeAngelo has somehow, despite his 3 assists, managed a -6 for the year. He is tied for the second worst single night on the Canes for the year with a -3. Only Orlov is lower with the aforementioned -5, and DeAngelo sits 7th from the bottom of the NHL in the +/- column at -6.
Suffice it to say that Carolina’s 3rd line is near the very bottom of the NHL where it matters.
In comparison however, Carolina’s top two pairings have found ways to play reasonably well on defense and still be productive offensively.
Brent Burns and Jaccob Slavin each have just one night in the negatives when it comes to +/-. The same can be said for Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce. Slavin is tied for 3rd in the league with a +5. As is Brady Skjei. Brett Pesce is tied for 5th. Burns is right behind tied for 6th.
The top pairing of Burns and Slavin have accounted for 5 goals and 6 assists. Slavin is tied for the most goals as a defensemen in the league. Burns is tied for 2nd. Pesce and Skjei have been equally busy netting 2 and helping with 6.
Did I mention Brady Skjei is tied with the most assists in the league with 6?
Only former Hurricane Dougie Hamilton has a higher shooting percentage with at least 10 SOG than Jaccob Slavin. With 15 SOG, Hamilton sits at an even 20 where Slavin has 16 with a 18.8%. Brett Pesce with his 7 SOG and 14.4 S% is ranked in that neighborhood as well.
If the annual West Coast boondoggle has shown the Hurricanes anything, it is that the 3rd D line is certainly slacking on their part for putting points back on the board like the rest of the defensive unit. The defensive struggles have made it blatantly apparent that with Dmitry Orlov and Tony DeAngelo on the ice, the Hurricanes have not been (and may not ever be) able to expect the mistake free hockey of last year, much less the offensive capabilities Orlov and DeAngelo were expected to bring to the Hurricanes. It is definitely time to sit both and leave at least one at home eating plain crackers the next time the Canes leave Raleigh. Other wise, like these games have show, the season is going to get away from the Hurricanes and the hole might be too deep to climb out of.