Game On The Line: Defensive Play

Chicago Blackhawks v Carolina Hurricanes
Chicago Blackhawks v Carolina Hurricanes / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

We continue the series of choosing the player that best fits the scenario provided. The Carolina Hurricanes are filled with a talented team with all types of skills that fit many scenarios. This is part of why this team is so deep and good in all types of games. This team can adjust to the opponent and proved that in last year's playoffs.

The penalty shot and big save have been covered but now let's take a look at who should be out on the ice to shut down the opposition with the game on the line. This is a category that could range from a defenseman or a forward. For the sake of argument, I am going to focus on the blue line for this one.

A combination of speed, agility, endurance, and physicality is needed at a moment like this. Some opponents can range in size and skill, which will be a difficult task for players that are one trick ponies.

The Canes shut down defenseman has always been Jaccob Slavin and deservedly so. He plays a smart, simple game that rarely puts him out of position and keeps him out of the penalty box. The long-time assistant captain will not shy away from physical play and always has his stick in the right position.

Surprisingly, it was difficult but my choice would not be Slavin. The player who provides me with the best ability across the board is Brady Skjei. The soon-to-be free agent has been a plus-40 player since arriving in Raleigh. In his fifth season with the Canes, the former New York Rangers draft pick is on pace for his best statistical season offensively and has a plus 9.

At just age 29, Skjei has phenomenal skating ability that creates sneaky speed for a 6'3 body. His size allows him to throw the body when needed and get into the gritty areas with the big boys. His positioning has improved greatly under the Canes coaching staff and has become a smart player all over the ice.

Being known more for his offensive skill set, Skjei can shut down the opposition's top line but is not asked to do as much because of his contribution on the man's advantage. Also, Slavin can take on that responsibility and minutes as he rarely sees the power play minutes.

The complete package for a defenseman pushes me towards choosing Skjei to make the defensive play with the game on the line. Who do you want in that position?