The Canes were an even 1-1-1 last week as they ended their road trip and were able to earn five out of a possible eight points. Some would say they are lucky to come away with more than two points this week because they were outplayed in almost every game. In Boston, it took a huge first period effort from Cam Ward and some incredibly stupid penalties from the Bruins for the Canes to come away with a 4-1 win. Then in St. Louis, the Canes came to play for the first 20 or some minutes and then completely turned off the jets and lost 3-2 in overtime. After that was the disaster in Winnipeg where the Canes had another 2-0 lead and then allowed Winnipeg to score five unanswered goals thanks to some bad penalties, shaky goaltending and a bad bounce or two. What was funny is that was the only game this week where they weren’t outshot. Either way, the Hurricanes special teams are what won and cost them a couple points in the standings this week but this team is still getting shelled at even strength and it’s going to be a big problem soon if things aren’t fixed. With that said, let’s take a look at some of the top performers and underachievers for Carolina over the past week.
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You remember this, right? If not, then I’ll refresh your memory. It’s a graph showing how the Canes players have been deployed this season. It also gives you an idea of how much Carolina has been struggling territorially because there are so many players who are buried with defensive zone starts here. Notice how our entire first line (Staal, Poni, Ruutu) are completely underwater when it comes to where they start most of their shifts. It probably doesn’t help that they’ve been facing some tough competition, as well.
Joni Pitkanen – Scored a goal and added two assists. He’s also been taking on a lot of tough assignments (was put against Seguin’s in the Boston game) and managed to come out of it with a positive corsi and scoring chance rating. Also, he noticably shot the puck more this week with nine attempts that made it on goal. After seeing that goal against Boston, all I can say is keep shooting the puck, Joni.
Cam Ward - Allowed only four goals on 77 shot which makes him have a save percentage of .948 to start the year. I should also mention that Ward saw all 77 of those shots within the span of two games. I think that’s all you need to prove that he is looking more like his usual self again.
Jeff Skinner - Had a goal, two assists and 12 shots on net. Also one of the few forwards who wasn’t dominated in territorial play this week. He along with Jussi Jokinen were the Canes best players in that shellacking against Winnipeg and it’s not even close. Speaking of which…
Jussi Jokinen - May have only had a goal and an assist but he’s been controlling the pace of play in just about every other aspect of the game. He created 16 scoring chances while giving up only 8 in his own end, was on ice for three of Carolina’s even strength goals this week and has been one of Carolina’s better face-off guys. Although, that last part isn’t saying that much. However, one reason for him and the second line’s success is due to some soft ice time. Just take a look at the graph above to see what I mean.
Eric Staal - Another lackluster week for the team captain finds himself back in this category. Staal is still shooting the puck a lot but failing to generate chances at even strength and his defensive game has been pretty bad so far this year, too. He was on ice for four total goals against this week. Ouch. I am still hopeful that he can turn things around, though.
Tomas Kaberle - Someone who has been sheltered as much as him shouldn’t be getting plowed at even strength but that was the case with Kaberle this week. Most of that is inflated due to a poor game against Winnipeg but he definitely struggled to create offense when playing five-on-five hockey this week.
Alexei Ponikarovsky - I was hopeful when he was promoted to the top-line and he definitely had some chances, but they all came early in all three games. After that, he completely dropped off and wasn’t producing at all. He failed to get on the score sheet and produced only 6 chances compared to the 17 he was on ice for in his own end. The one saving grace is that he was on ice for only one goal against.
Brian Boucher - I said that I only put two of the goals on him in Saturday’s game but giving up 5 goals on 24 shots just isn’t going to get things done.
Tim Gleason - Was dominated territorially in every game this week and was on ice for four goals against, two at even strength and two on the powerplay. Not a terrible week for him since he was taking on the tough assignments but a step down from how good he was to start the year.
Tuomo Ruutu - Was brutal in just about every category this week but he scored two goals so I can’t put him in the negative column.
Patrick Dwyer - Wasn’t on ice for a single goal against last week and had an assist to boot.
Bryan Allen - He didn’t create too many chances but he wasn’t giving up a lot in his own end either. Was also on ice for only two goals against.
Chad LaRose - I’m still not sure if he’s just riding off Jokinen and Skinner’s momentum but he was on ice for 18 chances at even strength compared to only 10 against and he also put up three assists. The goals haven’t quite come to him yet even though he’s shooting the puck quite a bit.
Brandon Sutter - Playing pretty well defensively on the team’s “shutdown line” and he scored his second goal of the year on Friday night. Would be a top performer if he wasn’t on ice for three goals against.
Jiri Tlusty - Would anyone believe me if I said that Tlusty was the only Hurricane who wasn’t on ice for an opposing goal this week? Because that’s what happened.
Brett Sutter - Put a questionable hit on Joe Corvo, fought Chris Kelly and committed a stupid boarding penalty. As a result, he led the Canes in penalty minutes for the week.
Jaime McBain - McBain and Pitkanen had a very solid week but McBain seems to be giving up more in his own end than Pitkanen is. Still hard to not like how he’s producing a lot of offense despite the tough zone starts.
Jay Harrison - Scored his “first” goal of the year and has been seeing some soft ice-time. Looks like someone is enjoying playing with Tomas Kaberle.
Anthony Stewart - Netted his second goal of the year against Boston but is still stuck on the fourth line and appears to be injured now.
Tim Brent - Didn’t have an eventful week other than recording an assist and having a brutal showing on the face-off dot. It’s not like he’s getting many chances or ice-time, though.
Zac Dalpe – Placed on IR earlier today. Get well soon, Zac.
Derek Joslin - I’m considering setting up a pool to guess when his first game this year will be and if it will even be in Carolina.
Justin Faulk - Sent to Charlotte last week and was recalled today. Also scored his first career goal as a pro with the Checkers.