Later this month, Noah Hanifin will turn 22.
It’s hard to believe that the Calgary Flames defender is one of the youngest blueliners in the National Hockey League that is playing a regular everyday role at the world’s highest level.
Yet Hanifin has 285 games under his belt and is 46 games into his fourth NHL campaign, playing top-four minutes along with Travis Hamonic.
So when mistakes happen — like Friday’s blunder which led to the Florida Panthers’ first goal in an eventual 4-3 Flames victory — we are all reminded that Hanifin is still learning.
The play happened in the first period when the former Carolina Hurricanes blueliner went behind David Rittich’s net to play the puck. Sensing the pressure of Panthers forechecker Denis Malgin, he spun away and carried the puck on his forehand to the left side of the ice.
With teammate Andrew Mangiapane hovering at the bottom of the circle, Hanifin, tried to send a pass his way. Instead, Mike Hoffman was there to intercept the pass and scored from the slot.
“It was a pretty good play by him,” Hanifin explained. “I got a chance to watch it. I really didn’t know what happened — I thought I had a little more time than I did coming around the net. It looked like he kind of dove and got under my stick a bit. (Malgin) made a good play there.
“That’s going to happen sometimes. It probably won’t be the last time it’s going to happen to me. You just have to move on when those things happen and carry on with the rest of the game.”
A short memory is important, according to Hanifin who was the second piece of the Flames’ off-season trade along with first-liner Elias Lindholm.
The 6-foot-3, 215-lb. Hanifin also acknowledged he is trying to improve his timing, a commitment to working on his game despite logged close to 300 NHL games and is part of the Calgary club’s crucially important second pairing along with Hamonic.
“It’s when to jump in the rush, when to hold back,” Hanifin said. “Sometimes I get a little too aggressive and a little too quick and if something happens or there’s a breakdown, I’m out of position. For me, it’s trying to work on my timing and letting the game come to me a little more.”
On Friday, Flames head coach Bill Peters switched up his team’s defensive pairings, playing Hamonic with Mark Giordano and putting TJ Brodie with Hanifin.
Peters felt Hanifin responded positively after the first-period mistake, which was a mistake-filled period for the Flames in general.
“I thought he bounced back,” Peters said. “There was a mistake there — we got the puck stalled in our own end behind the net. We were trying to do too much. He tried to make a play that probably wasn’t available. That’ll all get corrected and away we go.”
That was the theme of Saturday’s skate at WinSport Arena: correcting collective mistakes and trying to get the Flames to execute at a higher level.
Hanifin admitted that when he was younger and early on in his career, if he would have made a mistake like that, he would have dwelled on it and taken a longer time to let it go.
“I was a lot harder on myself,” said Hanifin who was selected fifth overall in the 2015 NHL Draft by the Hurricanes. “I think now I’m just trying to realize that mistakes are part of the game, and they’re going to happen every now and then.
“It does no good to dwell on it so you have to move on.”
Hamonic, according to Peters, has helped Hanifin with that aspect of the game.
“He does a great job with Noah in settling him down and talking to him,” Peters said. “(Hanifin) turns 22 this month. He’s a kid, but now he’s into Year (No.) 4 and has made great strides. What I liked is we were able to shuffle the deck and change partners, and he responded well.”
The Flames will resume their regular pairings when they host the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet One/Sportsnet 960 The Fan) — Giordano with Brodie, Hanifin with Hamonic and Oliver Kylington with Rasmus Andersson.
But Hanifin is learning from the best, including from the captain who tapped on his experience to join the offence and scored the Flames’ game-tying goal in the second period on Friday.
“I think Gio (Mark Giordano) is incredible at (timing). He picks unbelievable times to jump in the rush,” Hanifin said. “Look at his goal last night — that was a good time to jump up there. I’m just trying to learn from him and watching him, and that’s something I want to get better at.”
Note from WSOE.Org : This content has been auto-generated from a syndicated feed.