by Ken Wiebe

Much like an offensive lineman protecting a quarterback, Daniel Rahimi does a lot of the important little things that generally don’t show up on the traditional stats sheet.

When you’re a member of a shutdown defence pairing that is generally out on the ice against the opposition’s top offensive players, job No. 1 is to keep the puck out of your net.

Everything else is just a bonus.

When Nathan McIver was scooped up on waivers by the Anaheim Ducks prior to the start of the American Hockey League season, the Manitoba Moose had an unexpected vacancy on the back end and head coach Scott Arniel didn’t hesitate sliding Rahimi up with Maxime Fortunus.

After all, when McIver was on recall to the parent Vancouver Canucks late last season, Rahimi fared pretty well playing alongside Fortunus.

“He’s a physical defenceman that will bang the opposition — he doesn’t care who it is,” said Arniel, whose team opened up a seven-game road trip with a 4-2 win over the Quad City Flames on Wednesday. “I like the fact that he’s fearless when it comes to blocking shots and he did a real good job on the penalty kill last year. Max makes the game simple for people and he helps people out when it comes to positioning and buying time for his partner. He’s more of a calming influence.

“At times, Danny’s engine can get running a little hot and his hands get a bit quick. He recognizes that when he’s playing with Max and if he’s poised, patient and keeps it simple, then good things happen.”

If recent history is an indicator, Rahimi should see some tangible benefits to being paired with the steady Fortunus.

McIver, Alex Edler and the late Luc Bourdon all got opportunities at the NHL-level after stints with Fortunus as a regular defence partner.

Rahimi’s road to the NHL is probably a little further away, but the big Swede possesses some important qualities that are required to compete at the next level.

The biggest change in Rahimi from the beginning of this year compared to a year earlier is his confidence.

That was on display during Canucks’ training camp and simply carried over to his arrival in Winnipeg.

After splitting last season between the Moose and Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL, Rahimi finally feels like he belongs.

“Last year I learned a lot as a person — about how to take care of myself and about how it works here (in North America),” said Rahimi, who spent much of his summer working on his quickness. “It’s a quicker game. I had to get used to it, but I think I am now.

“I have to play physical if I’m going to be good in this league. I’m stronger this year and there are so many good defenceman in this organization, it’s crazy. But in a way that’s good because it will make me work harder and everyone else is going to step it up a notch. Our defensive core is going to be great and I want to be part of it.”

courtesy of Sun Media


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