May 26th, 2024

Pesce’s injury could mean a larger role for DeAngelo in the playoffs for the Hurricanes

By Aaron Beard, The Associated Press on April 24, 2024.

FILE - Carolina Hurricanes' Tony DeAngelo, left, crosses the blue line as Columbus Blue Jackets' Justin Danforth defends during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Columbus, Ohio. DeAngelo found himself playing a reduced role in his second stint with the Carolina Hurricanes amid a deep roster of defensemen. He could be headed for a larger role in the NHL playoffs with veteran Brett Pesce sidelined by injury. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Tony DeAngelo found himself playing a reduced role in his second stint with the Carolina Hurricanes amid a deep roster of defensemen. He could be headed for a larger role in the NHL playoffs with veteran Brett Pesce sidelined by injury.

DeAngelo worked in a pairing with Brady Skjei during practice Wednesday before the Hurricanes traveled north ahead of Game 3 against the New York Islanders on Thursday. Coach Rod Brind’Amour said Pesce is “more than likely” out for the remainder of the first-round series because of a lower-body injury suffered on a noncontact sequence during the second period of a Game 2 comeback win Monday.

DeAngelo has been a healthy scratch for the first two postseason games, with the Hurricanes claiming both for a 2-0 series lead.

“It’s always tough, but it is what it is,” he said of the limited playing role. “Now we’ve got a chance that I can come in and help out and hopefully make a difference.”

It’s a different role this time around for DeAngelo compared with his first stint, when he signed for the 2021-22 season on a low-risk flier deal in search of a fresh start after a troubled end to his tenure with the New York Rangers. He went on to work in the top pairing with Jaccob Slavin in those playoffs, filling the void when Dougie Hamilton signed with New Jersey as an offensive threat and key piece to the power play.

But Carolina traded him to Philadelphia after that season, then re-signed him last summer after the Flyers placed DeAngelo on unconditional waivers.

This time, though, he’s been a fill-in after the Hurricanes’ strong top six, which typically has Slavin working with Brent Burns at the top, the Pesce-Skjei combination and last summer’s signing, Dmitry Orlov, paired with Jalen Chatfield.

“He makes the pairing good just with his skating and the way he defends,” DeAngelo said of Skjei, adding it was similar to playing with Slavin.

Skjei, meanwhile, sees some clear upside in the match, too.

“Get him the puck in the (offensive) zone,” Skjei said. “That’s his biggest strength, obviously. We all know how gifted offensively he is.”

DeAngelo played well in his first stint in Carolina, with 10 goals and 41 assists in the 2022 regular season, then he had one goal and nine assists in 14 postseason games in 2022 while averaging 21:31 of ice time. But DeAngelo has appeared in just 11 of 45 games since the start of 2024, averaging 13:33 of ice time in those outings.

Brind’Amour said the elevated role is “nothing new to him” on a veteran team playing in the playoffs for the sixth straight season.

“He’s been here before, we had him for a whole year, I think he played almost every game,” Brind’Amour said. “We know what we’ve got in that player, that’s why we went and got him. It was just unfortunate he didn’t get to play much this year because we were healthy. But this is exactly why you want a guy like that around.”

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

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