Brett Pesce: Put Some Damn Respect On His Name
The Carolina Hurricanes are a wagon and have a legitimate shot to win the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Carolina isn’t really built like any other team. The Canes don’t have a 40 goal scorer on the entire roster. They only have one player on the team that has more than 70 points (Sebastian Aho). So how exactly are the Canes such a dominant force?
The Carolina Hurricanes are the best defensive team in hockey. Their 88% penalty kill percentage is tops in the league by a wide margin. The combination of Freddie Andersen and Antti Raanta also won the Jennings award for their performance in net this season. Jaccob Slavin and Jordan Staal often get their credit for their defensive prowess. In Staal’s case, his faceoff ability is almost unmatched around the rest of the NHL.
One guy continues to fly way under the radar and it’s about damn time he gets his respect. Brett Pesce is a stud and it’s time he’s recognized as one of the best defensive d-men in the sport. The real Caniacs know how important Pesce is to their team and it’s time the rest of the NHL recognizes it.
Pesce is as important as member of the Carolina Hurricanes. The defensive identity is the heart and soul of the Hurricanes and Pesce’s presence cannot be replaced. Yes, the Hurricanes are well coached. Yes, they have a lot of great pieces on this team. Pesce constantly does the dirty jobs without getting any recognition for doing so in the media.
Frederik Andersen put together an unreal season for Carolina. Andersen went 35-14-3 this year with a 2.17 GAA, and a SV% of .922. Statistically, Andersen was better than anybody not named Igor Shesterkin. Earlier in the season, Andersen was asked who deserves more credit on this Carolina team. Andersen didn’t hesitate. Pesce was the first name he brought up:
“Just really enjoying playing again,” Andersen said.
“We have a really good D corps. So many players I’ve been really impressed with seeing up close. The whole team, the buy-in from everyone is huge. It helps knowing where everyone is going to be and knowing we can trust each other out there.”
“Andersen highlights Brett Pesce and Tony DeAngelo, in particular, as defenders that he didn’t know a ton about before he signed but have opened his eyes with their skill and commitment.”
Carolina has gotten unreal play for their goalies almost regardless of who is in net. A year ago, Petr Mrazek, James Reimer, and Alex Nedeljkovic all received significant playing time for the Canes.
Mrazek put together three solid campaigns in a row in Carolina before departing for Toronto this offseason. Mrazek’s save percentage dipped from .923 in Carolina to .888 with the Leafs.
The same can be said for Nedeljkovic who turned into an unsung hero for Carolina. Last year with Carolina, Ned posted a league leading .932 save percentage and 1.90 GAA. A year later, Ned found himself in Detroit and his numbers tanked (.901 SV%, 3.31 GAA).
Slavin gets much of the credit for being one of the best defensemen in the sport. He deserves his due. Let’s just not forget about the fact that Carolina lost Dougie Hamilton this offseason replacing him with a guy that finds himself in the penalty box more frequently and Carolina’s defense got better… Slavin can’t do this by himself.
It’s one thing when you feel good about your top blue line pair. It’s another when 45 minutes of ice time is covered by two monsters. Pesce deserves his due and that’s just the bottom line. Use your eyeballs. Pesce is about as good as it gets saving his goalie from trouble. The numbers back it up and every goalie that Carolina acquires plays out of his mind. That’s not a coincidence.
Video isn’t embedding for whatever reason but check out this play from earlier in the year against San Jose!
Across 21:54 minutes of ice time, Pesce sports a 54.2 CF%. More importantly, Rod trusts him. In the most recent series against the Bruins, anytime Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak were on the ice, so was the defensive pairing of Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce. At home when Rod Brind’Amour can control the matchups, he constantly trusts Pesce to eliminate the top goal scorers for the opposition. Pesce does as good of a job as anybody. When the game is on the line, Pesce is always paired with Slavin during the final minutes of the game.
It’s understandable why Pesce gets lost in the shuffle but I’m not sure you would take any team’s defensive unit over Carolina. With the way DeAngelo skates quarterbacks the powerplay, he’s become the perfect fit on this defensive team to provide that scoring punch. Pesce and the rest of this culture has allowed DeAngelo to shine the way he has.
Pesce, 27, isn’t tasked with trying to score but he provides more than his fair share of offense. Pesce has more than a respectable shot and pocketed seven goals this season in 70 games. Pesce doesn’t get a ton of powerplay time but rarely makes the wrong play. He’s great at passing the puck through the neutral zone and never gets burned on the other end. On possession stats, Pesce put up a more than respectable 56.7 XGF rate.
Scoring rates in the NHL are through the roof. Everyone seems to be sleeping on the Caniacs defensive engine that has won games all year by being better than you on the back end. Pesce deserves his due for the Canes success. Brett Pesce has proven to be a winning and valuable player for one of the best teams in the NHL. Put some damn respect on his name.