Justin Faulk thinking (and hoping for) Sochi

Justin Faulk is off to a solid start to the season, entering the weekend with five assists in eight games while leading all Hurricanes in ice time at 25:02 per game.

They’re tough minutes too, with Faulk matching up every night against the other team’s top line.

"He’s a real good player," said one rival NHL team executive.

The St. Paul, Minn., native is only 21, but there are many people who believe he’ll make Team USA.

His eyes lit up this week when I asked him about Sochi.

"I think anyone would be lying if they said it doesn’t cross their mind at all, any player that’s in contention for it, anyway," Faulk said. "But at the same time, I’m just trying to play my game and help my team win. If your [NHL] team is winning, that’s going to be better for any player in contention [for the Olympics], because I’m sure there’s someone watching every night."

What are his goals for his third season in the NHL?

"Just being more consistent," Faulk said. "Obviously not every player is going to be able to play 82 A-plus games, but if I can be more consistent, and right now I’m playing against top lines, trying to keep them off the board plus at the same time trying to chip in [offensively]. But there are more important things than putting up points every night, especially in the role I’m in. I’m not one for set specific individual goals, but I just want to play my game."