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Faulk Logs Big Minutes

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes

Justin Faulk made the short trip from Charlotte to Raleigh on Thursday afternoon. A day later, he played just over 22 minutes for the Carolina Hurricanes, second-most among the defense in the game.

Michael Smith
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It’s something he felt comfortable jumping right into, and it’s something that head coach Paul Maurice and the coaching staff had confidence in the 19-year-old defenseman to do.

“I was playing similar minutes down there, upwards of probably 20 minutes a night,” Faulk said. “It’s nice when you’re playing like that because you’re getting into a groove, and you’re in it all the time. There’s never a lull where you’re not going.”

“We can’t ask for anymore from him, or I guess we eventually will because he’s that good,” Maurice said after the game last night. “We’re very happy with him.”

Faulk was used in all situations last night. He logged three minutes on the power play and 1:32 on the penalty kill. Tomorrow evening against the Toronto Maple Leafs, expect more of the same.

“Twenty-two minutes last night, and I don’t see that coming back,” Maurice said today after practice. “He played a solid game. I think playing with Jay Harrison helps him. If his minutes go up, it’ll probably be on the power play when he gets out with the first unit.”

Faulk worked with the first unit on the power play today in practice, with him and Harrison manning the points. On the power play last night, Faulk nearly netted his first career NHL goal, as a one-timer whizzed just wide of the net.

“I like being used in all situations,” he said. “It just shows that they have a little bit of confidence in me in there. And like I said, it keeps you in the game. When you can play PK and PP, it’s just a bonus.”

Faulk was paired with Harrison in last night’s game, and Harrison was often seen chatting and diagramming with Faulk during breaks in play. Faulk said this was important to their success on the ice.

“We’re just kind of communicating, getting a feel for each other,” he said. “It was our first game together, and I think the more we play together, the more we communicate and talk about little things, it will be easier to read off of each other. It will make us better as a pair.

“It’s a big bonus when you get comfortable with a partner. Last night, being the first game together, you’ve got to talk. Otherwise, they’ll be turnovers and mistakes.”

Turnovers and mistakes were pretty much absent from the Canes defensively last night, as they limited the Sabres to just 20 shots through 60 minutes. Looking towards tomorrow, the focus will be much of the same – playing a smart defensive game in front of their own net.

The difference? They hope to pot one in the back of the Leafs’ net.

Should Faulk register another 20-plus minutes, he could very well be involved in a scoring play. Offensively-minded but also smart in his own end, Faulk has totaled 6 points (2g, 4a) in 12 games with Charlotte.

“The big thing was just ending plays and protecting the front of the net first before you go out and try to do anything else,” Faulk said of the game-plan last night. “It was a good game. We came out and played well with each other and for each other. Going into tomorrow, we have to replicate the same thing in the D-zone and try to put a few in the net.”


A forward will be recalled from the Charlotte Checkers this afternoon because of Patrick Dwyer’s injury suffered last night. Dwyer will be a game-time decision tomorrow.

“If he continues on the same track, there’s a good chance [that he’ll play],” Maurice said. “But if he comes in tomorrow the way he did today, then I’ll probably hold him out.”

Maurice didn’t give any indication as to who would be called up, but the team has a few options. Zac Dalpe, who was reassigned to Charlotte on Thursday, had a goal and an assist last night in the Checkers’ 3-2 shootout loss to the Rockford IceHogs. Drayson Bowman has seen time in Raleigh this season also. Brett Sutter is a player who could easily step into Dwyer’s role in the lineup. Jerome Samson hasn’t playing in a regular season game for the Hurricanes yet this season, but he has been a regular call-up in years past.

Joni Pitkanen will skate tomorrow morning, as he now moves to day-to-day with his lower-body injury. The defenseman has missed four games.

Cam Ward will start in net tomorrow, which was the plan prior to last night’s game. Brian Boucher made 19 saves last night in what was a stellar defensive effort.

“I’m sure Cam was sitting on the bench last night wondering when we were going to fire one of those in front of him,” Maurice joked. “We had a chuckle about that this morning.”

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