“I’ve never played the wing,” he said. “I played center when I was, like, 13.”
Joslin will go back to those early teenage roots tonight when he draws in on the fourth-line wing, something he notes he has done frequently at practice in the last few weeks when needed. It’s not all foreign, but it is an adjustment for the natural defenseman.
“I’ll be playing forward for the first two periods tonight, and if he needs me on D in the third period, it’s not like I’m going to be thinking much,” he said. “It’s pretty natural for me. It’s easy to go from forward to D; it’s a little bit harder to go from D to forward in my situation.”
Despite the unnatural shift, head coach Kirk Muller is confident in how Joslin will respond.
“We’ve got three in four nights, and we’ve got a lot of games in March. He hasn’t been playing. He’s been a real pro, and he’s been working hard,” Muller said. “More or less, we’re going with seven D and just using him up on the wing a bit. He’s probably going to see some games coming up here, and it’s not a bad way to get him into playing, so when we might need him or we might need to rest a guy, we’ve got a seventh guy ready to go on D.”
Joslin has been a healthy scratch in the last five games since the return of Jaroslav Spacek
on defense. Prior to filling in for Spacek, Joslin watched from the press box for eight straight games. This all after he started the season sitting out 13 straight.
“It’s hard. I’m not going to sit here and say it’s easy,” he said. “But, the most important thing is you have to be a good teammate. You’ve got to keep a positive attitude, and you’ve got to work your hardest. It’s one thing about getting up to this level. It’s even harder to stay at this level, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do.”
Before re-entering the lineup for Spacek in mid-January, Joslin completed a four-game conditioning stint with the Charlotte Checkers. In four games, he recorded three assists and was even. Though time on ice isn’t officially available, he’s certain he played over 20 minutes in each game.
“It helped me a lot. I’ve played over 200 games in the American League, so I was confident going down there at that level,” he said. “The coach threw me in all situations. I was playing over 20 minutes a game on the power play, penalty kill, against top lines. So, going from playing 14 minutes to playing over 20 was good for my confidence and my conditioning. I’m glad it went the way it did.”
Beside starting on the wing, making tonight even more special is the fact that he faces an organization he spent five years with. San Jose drafted Joslin in the 5th round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He spent a season in the OHL before jumping up to the AHL level where he played a full season with the Worcester Sharks. Three years later – a year ago tomorrow exactly – Joslin headed East to join the Canes in a trade.
Is he excited about jumping in against his former team?
“Big time,” he said. “San Jose is one of those teams where a lot of the draft picks stay in the organization, so a lot of those guys over there I’ve known for quite some time. It’s going to be pretty cool to play against them, but I’m not going to take it easy on any of them, that’s for sure.”
Even though he’s got some size – 6-foot-1, 210 pounds – Joslin also has a good bit of offensive upside. In the three seasons that he played with Worchester, Joslin was a 30-point scorer, even netting as many as 11 goals in 2008-09.
“I have a really good feeling I might pot one tonight,” he said. “It’s just going one of those nights. It’s going to be fun.”Peters in NetJustin Peters
will get the start in net tonight, his first start since Jan. 7 in Nashville, a 5-2 loss. You have to go even farther back for Peters’ last start at the RBC Center: Jan. 9, 2010 against the Atlanta Thrashers, a 4-3 win in overtime. That was also Peters’ last victory at the NHL level and the last time a goaltender other than Cam Ward
won a game for the Canes.
Muller said Ward had a slight injury concern, thus the reason for holding him off the ice yesterday and sitting him tonight.
“Wardo had a little slight tweak, so we’re going to give him one more day to recover,” Muller said. “We’ve got to get Peters in anyway, so it’s a good opportunity.
“We need him to bounce in here and give us a good game. He’s ready and excited, so it should be good for him.”