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Gardiner is taking advantage of increased role

February 11, 2020, 6:07 PM ET [5 Comments]
Ben Shelley
Carolina Hurricanes Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
An optimistic offseason signing for the Carolina Hurricanes who got off to a less-than-stellar start, Jake Gardiner finally seems to be finding his game in Carolina.

Despite a terrible first half of the season which saw Gardiner tally just eight points in his first 40 games with the Hurricanes in 2019, he has been better in 2020. He now has 10 points in his last 15 games and while Dougie Hamilton’s absence has certainly been felt, it’s also given Gardiner an opportunity to get more playing time. He’s averaged 19:16 per game, compared to just 16:14 before the injury. The increased opportunity in the top-four has allowed Gardiner to play more like himself, which, though far from perfect, means he's at least been effective offensively.

It’s common knowledge that Gardiner is used as an offensive asset who’s able to carry the puck and complete breakout passes. In turn, those defensive lapses we see are never going away but at least right now, that offensive element to his game seems to be coming back.

I think it’s clear that for Gardiner to be effective, he needs top-four minutes. Brett Pesce is an ideal partner for Gardiner because it allows him to provide the offense he does, with someone to cover for his mistakes. That’s why pairing him with the likes of Trevor van Riemsdyk or Haydn Fleury just doesn’t work– because neither can compensate for his defensive shortcomings.

The year has gone far from perfect for Gardiner but as of now, it looks like he’s finally on the right track.

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