Through the season’s first 17 games, the Hurricanes have seen a plethora of lineups deployed, whether it be with six or seven defensemen.
Injuries to the likes of Sebastian Aho and Brett Pesce, who both missed three games or more, influenced the decisions, but, since Nov. 11th, Carolina has had all of their skaters healthy.
Now, as Tony DeAngelo and Jalen Chatfield vie for the sixth spot on the blue line, Rod Brind’Amour is preparing for alternatives on the power play if DeAngelo is the healthy scratch.
On Tuesday, Jaccob Slavin took reps as the quarterback of the Hurricanes’ power play, providing an answer if Chatfield is part of the third defensive pairing.
“If we get to a point where Tony’s not in, then somebody has to [fill] that spot,” said Brind’Amour. “[We want to] get him some looks at it. You don’t want to throw guys in there that haven’t had any reps.”
Brind’Amour, when asked, also mentioned that the decision to give Slavin those reps, which would come with DeAngelo out, was in part due to the presence of Jalen Chatfield.
“You want to keep everyone sharp and that’s the problem when you sit out for a long time,” said Brind’Amour on Chatfield. “You can’t really expect guys to go in and be game ready if they haven’t been out there, so that is a concern.”
Chatfield has seen action in 12 of Carolina’s 17 games, but has been a healthy scratch in the last three contests.
With Dmitry Orlov coming to Carolina in free agency, adjusting to Rod Brind’Amour’s system has taken some time. While doing so, he has been paired with multiple defensemen, and often times it has changed on a game-to-game basis.
However, Chatfield is far and away the best partner for the Orlov on the third defensive pairing.
In 12 games, Chatfield has a +/- of -3, while Tony DeAngelo sits at -10 through 16 contests. Although Orlov as a team-low of -11, many of those scores have come alongside DeAngelo.
Rod Brind’Amour inserting Slavin into the power play unit during Tuesday’s practice may not signal any changes in Carolina’s lineup, but it does provide answers as to whether or not they are at least exploring other options moving forward.
There may not be a magical answer to the lineup in Carolina, and who knows if Slavin on the power play would be a successful move.
However, Jalen Chatfield has earned a chance at cementing himself in the lineup again and Slavin has improved his offensive game, giving this change the potential for success.
So, why not provide a change to the lineup that could not only provide a spark, but also be a long-term solution?
There has been no indication of who will be the sixth defenseman and who will be one of two healthy scratches, likely alongside Brendan Lemieux on Wednesday against Edmonton.