RALEIGH — Bryan Allen of the Carolina Hurricanes looks the part of a hockey player, and certainly a defenseman.
Allen is missing a few teeth, giving him the jack-o'-lantern look when he smiles. He has scar tissue in various parts of his face, having long since lost track of how many stitches he has taken. He's also a big guy at 6-5 and 226 pounds.
"You could take a picture of him and put him in any decade and you'd say, 'He plays defenseman,' " Canes coach Paul Maurice said.
While Allen has had injuries large and small, he had a badly swollen little toe on his right foot last week. That came when he went down to the ice to block a blazing one-timer by Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, Allen taking the shot off his skate.
In the Canes' 3-2 win Wednesday over the Boston Bruins, Allen had seven of Carolina's 22 blocked shots. He and Tim Gleason have emerged as the Canes' shutdown tandem, and they've also done some of the dirty work shorthanded as Carolina killed off all 11 penalties in beating the Bruins and then the Buffalo Sabres.
"Just big and solid and physical," Maurice said of Allen's play. "He's played well with whoever we've played him with, but he and Timmy (Gleason) have a fit because they play in some ways a similar game.
"They really feed off each other. They're very effective.
"(Allen) is a very smart player. He's not caught out of position. He knows his area of the ice and that makes it easier for Timmy."
Allen, 31, was paired with rookie defensemen Justin Faulk and Ryan Murphy, both teenagers, during preseason exhibition games. In the season opener against Tampa Bay, he was with Jay Harrison.
But Allen's ice time has increased in each game and he has a plus-4 rating for the season. Gleason, who said he lost 12 pounds in the off-season, is plus-7 and tied for the NHL lead through Saturday's games.
"I take pride in getting the chance to play against top lines, playing against the best players," Allen said. "It starts there. The next part is making the good first pass out of my end. That makes me feel I'm doing my job."
Gleason, with a smile, says the job is "to be physical" - a part of the game he enjoys - and that both have a lot of experience. Gleason, 28, is playing the right side this season, something new for him, but has adjusted quickly and well to the switch.
"We know where the plays can be made and should be made," Gleason said. "I think for both of us our goal is for our play to be consistent."
From training camp to exhibitions to the regular season, Allen has done whatever is required to do the job. When Brad Marchand of the Bruins took a few extra whacks at goalie Cam Ward just after the whistle was blown, Allen was there to shove him away.
"I think it's just being a good teammate," Allen said.
And jumping in front of that Ovechkin slapshot?
"That's part of playing good defense," Allen said.
Allen flashed that gap-tooth smile, adding, "He got all of it."
Such things are quickly noticed and appreciated by his teammates and coaches.
"Those are the things, what he's saying to the rest of the team is, 'I'm never taking a night off, I'm going to give you what I have every single night, every single shift,' " Maurice said. "And there's nothing that's more respected in the locker room than that."