Originally posted on Shutdown Line  |  Last updated 4/8/13

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 25: Jamie McBain of the Carolina Hurricanes watches the action against the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on September 25, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Hurricanes won 1-0. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
After going most of the season without a collective scapegoat, Hurricanes fans seemed to have found one in defenseman Jamie McBain. The entire team is struggling right now, but he has been taking a lot of heat from the fans ever since Carolina went on their brutal losing streak. The hate reached a new high after his brutal showing against the Winnipeg Jets two weeks ago where he was on-ice for two goals against, one of which he put in his own net. Most of the criticism he has been taking lately has been deserved since his mistakes are costing the team a lot more right now and he has the tendency to get caught in no-man's land more than others. He has also been on-ice for seven even strength goals in his last nine games after being on-ice for only seven in his first 20. Like I said earlier, the entire team is struggling right now but McBain seems to be a step behind the entire team right now for whatever reason. Some say that he has never been good, but it wasn't too long ago when people were talking about how he had the highest plus-minus rating among the defense corps and how he has become better defensively than in year's past. His underlying numbers also show that he hasn't been terribly better or worse than he was last season, so why is it now that everyone wants him run out of town? Personally, I think it all relates back to Justin Faulk's injury and how McBain's role has changed since then. Faulk wasn't exactly dominating territorially, but he was taking on the bulk of the tough minutes among the Hurricanes defense corps all season. When he went down, someone else had to step into those minutes and one player who ended up doing so was Jamie McBain. He isn't a stranger to playing top-four minutes, but playing against other team's top lines was a role very different from how he was used earlier in the season. Game Oppnent Partner 1 N/A N/A 2 N/A N/A 3 Stafford-Ennis-Foligno Pitkanen 4 Ott-Hecht-Kaleta Pitkanen 5 Machand-Bergeron-Seguin Pitkanen 6 O'Brien-Condra Pitkanen 7 Briere-Giroux-McGinn Pitkanen 8 JVR-Bozak-Kessel Pitkanen 9 Michalek-Smith-Silfverberg Pitkanen 10 N/A N/A 11 Boyes-Tavares-Moulson Pitkanen 12 Kovalchuk-Henrique-Clarkson Pitkanen 13 Komarov-Grabovski-Kulemin Corvo 14 Gionta-Plekanec-Bourque Corvo 15 N/A N/A 16 N/A N/A 17 N/A N/A 18 N/A N/A 19 Kennedy-Dupuis-Cooke Sanguinetti 20 Parros-Mueller-Goc Gleason 21 Shore-Weiss-Kopecky Sanguinetti 22 Flynn-Porter-Foligno Sanguinetti 23 Galchenyk-Eller-Prust Sanguinetti 24 Matteau-Zajac-Bernier Sanguinetti 25 Chimera-Hendricks-Wolski Sanguinetti 26 Ward-Ribeiro-Chimera Sanguinetti 27 Malone-Thompson-Crombeen Pitkanen 28 Callahan-Stepan-Hagelin Pitkanen 29 Fleischmann-Goc-Kopeckey PItkanen 30 Elias-Zajac-Clarkson Pitkanen 31 Wheeler-Little-Ladd Pitkanen 32 Kessel-Bozak-JVR Pitkanen 33 Wheeler-Little-Ladd Pitkanen 34 Pacioretty-Desharnais-Gallagher Pitkanen 35 N/A N/A 36 Pyatt-Stamkos-Killorn Harrison 37 Hagelin-Boyle-Brassard Harrison There were a few times where McBain was used against the opposition's best players, but most of those games came on the road where Muller did not have the last matchup. When he had that option, McBain was mainly sent out against other team's third and fourth lines. He was used strictly in this role when he was on a defense pairing with Bobby Sanguinetti, a player that's somewhat similar to him. That all changed on Game 30 after Faulk got hurt and McBain began to play against top forwards more often than usual. The main reason why he got those assignments was because Muller insisted on keeping him and Joni Pitkanen together. Pitkanen has been able to handle tough-assignments in the past and is capable of playing over 20 minutes per game. He also has played with McBain a lot in the past, which is why Muller went with these two as his first pairing instead of using a more proven shutdown option like Tim Gleason. McBain's performance after Game 30 speaks for itself.  Scoring Chances/Possession Notice the sharp trend downward after Game 30. That's about the time when McBain was shifted to more of a tough-minutes role and it's not hard to see why he is struggling so much. He was barely keeping his head above water in terms of scoring chances for most of the season, but his mistakes were less noticeable then because he was facing depth lines rather than the other team's top scorers. Now that he isn't being sheltered, he has been on-ice for more goals against.  McBain's decline is something that wasn't very hard to foresee. He was on-ice for an abnormally low number of even strength goals against earlier in the season, which wasn't going to continue even if he stayed in a sheltered role, and increasing the difficulty of his assignments definitely sped up this process. The problem with McBain's recent play isn't because he is a terrible defenseman like some want you to believe, it's more due to him playing a role that he isn't suited for. Put Bobby Sanguinetti or Brett Bellemore in the same kind of situation and they would fare no better because they are unproven top-four options. That's where all of this relates back to Jusitn Faulk and how much is absence hurts the team. He and Gleason's ability to handle the tough minutes takes pressure off guys like McBain & Sanguinetti who can thrive in more offensive situations. With him gone, one of those players needed to step up to a bigger role and McBain wasn't able to do that and it's become pretty clear that he is just a third pairing defenseman at this stage of his career. Many were hoping he would be more than that by now, but this is what he is. I'm sure that plenty of teams would welcome him, but the Hurricanes defense is over-populated with third-pairing guys so it might be tough for him to be a long-term fit in Carolina if this is his ceiling. Stats courtesy of Vic Ferrari's H2H Scripts
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Brett Favre Hall of Fame discussion took less than 10 seconds

WATCH: Pop wishes Kobe well in heartfelt message

Eric Berry named NFL Comeback Player of the Year

Cam Newton to be named NFL MVP

Ezekiel Elliott hung out with Jim Brown

Rickie Fowler taunted by fans over his ex-girlfriend

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Roger Goodell speaks about future of Pro Bowl in annual address

Mike Krzyzewski provides an update on his health

Sacramento Kings seriously considering firing George Karl

Rick Pitino says school should be penalized, 'but not this team'

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban defends hack-a-player strategy

Jameis Winston awarded Pepsi NFL rookie of the Year

Winners and losers from 2016 Hall of Fame vote

Brett Favre, Tony Dungy headline Hall of Fame Class of 2016

Terrell Owens says he was not elected to Hall of Fame

Bruins prospect hit in throat with puck, taken to hospital

WATCH: Mavs rookie laughed at for trash talking Spurs bench

Norris Cole has No. 30 retired with LeBron James, New Orleans Pelicans in attendance

Three keys to victory for the Broncos in Super Bowl 50

Torrey Smith: ‘This is probably the best offense’ for Kaepernick

Byron Scott thought D’Angelo Russell would be further along

Under-the-radar Super Bowl 50 matchups

Is Tim Lincecum's run with the San Francisco Giants done?

$40,000 in Super Bowl tickets stolen from San Francisco hotel

Rams fan makes Super Bowl commercial ripping Stan Kroenke

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker