History is beginning to repeat itself for the Carolina Hurricanes, as they once again outplayed their opponent tonight but ended up taking a loss because of some terrible special teams play. They outshot the Flyers 42-24 (30-16 at even strength) but went 1/6 on the powerplay and had multiple opportunities to get back into the game in the third period. Unfortunately, they still look completely disoriented when playing with a man-up despite all of the talent present. To make things worse, Carolina failed to kill off all all three Flyer powerplays and that ended up being the dagger in this game.
All losses are frustrating, but this one was particularly maddening to watch because just about every time the Hurricanes had a chance to get back into the game, something went wrong and they found themselves down by two or three goals again. That's just the way that the dice has been rolling for the Hurricanes this season, though. Some of it is bad luck but a lot of it is related to this team's lackluster special teams play and tendency to have some defensive lapses. Sure, some people might point a finger at the spotty officiating tonight or not getting the goaltending they needed from Dan Ellis, who was pulled after allowing four goals on 12 shots, but most of Carolina's errors tonight were self-inflicted and the reason why they find themselves below .500. Again.
Corey's 10 Thoughts
– Carolina was playing from behind for most of the game, so it's not too surprising that they outshot the Flyers by such a wide margin, but I did think they played a good game at even strength tonight and were carrying the play for most of the period. They just struggled to set up plays in the offensive zone and did not generate as many quality scoring chances as they probably should have. There were a ton of shots coming from the perimeter with no traffic in front that were relatively easy for Ilya Bryzgalov to stop and the Flyers also did a good job of blocking Carolina's shots, as well. It's basically the same thing the Hurricanes did to the Senators last night by keeping most of Carolina's opportunities to the outside.
– I was fine with Dan Ellis starting this game since he earned another look in net but the only reason why I was somewhat against it is because this was the second night of a back-to-back and he was probably tired from last night. It's hard to put any of the four goals on him but he failed to come up big when the Canes needed him to and was pulled as a result. I mentioned yesterday that small sample sizes and can deceive people with goaltenders and that's what happened tonight with Ellis. He's going to have bad games. Every goalie does.
– One goal that I would absolutely not put on Ellis is Braydon Coburn's tally in the second period which made it 3-1. That rush was caused by a bad decision by defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti but could have ended up being harmless if the forwards were in position to break up the play. Unfortunately, Zac Dalpe was too far away from the play to do anything and Jeff Skinner made no effort to back-check so the Flyers got a 4-on-3 and a goal. Just an ugly play by everyone involved there.
– The powerplay generated nine shots on goal in 11 minutes of time, which doesn't sound bad, but they looked disorganized and confused throughout most of the game. They had trouble entering the zone and were barely able to set up a play. The Flyers have been a bad penalty killing team this year, so there isn't much excuse for this kind of performance.
– Adding to that, the penalty kill was about ten times worse in allowing goals on all three Flyer powerplay opportunities. It was surprising to see this because they had played so well against Ottawa the previous night but they could not get the puck out of the zone and just seemed to stand around and watch the Flyers while they were on the powerplay. That's obviously a recipe for disaster.
– One thing to be happy about is that this Tlusty-Staal-Semin line is looking more and more like the real deal. They produced two more even strength goals tonight and both of them were the direct result of great forechecking and being able to contain the Flyers in their own zone. This led to another great offensive night for them as they generated 12 total shots on goal. I'd really like to see another line pitch in soon but it's hard not to be happy with the way that these three are playing right now.
– Blocking a lot of shots usually means that you're spending too much time in your own zone, which is why it might be a good sign that the Flyers had 32 blocks while the Canes only had 7. Of course, you have to consider that the Hurricanes spent most of the third period on the powerplay and the Flyers were going to be pinned in their zone regardless, so blocking shots were a necessity there. The defense seemed to have a lot of trouble getting shots through with Pitkanen having six of his shots blocked and Faulk having four.
– How do you know things aren't going your team's way? Just watch the second period around the 11 minute mark. Jordan Staal's line had probably one of their best shifts of the season where the trio of him, Jeff Skinner and Zac Dalpe were able to create multiple scoring chances, force turnovers to keep the puck deep and wear down the Flyers. They didn't end up scoring, the Hurricanes took a too many men on the ice penalty only a few seconds later and the Flyers scored immediately on the powerplay to make it 5-2. That's the point where most people would have turned the game off.
– Carolina got a bit desperate with their powerplay strategy by sending Chad LaRose out there to play the role of net front presence. By that, I mean he basically just stood in front of the net with no one around him while the Flyers could easily focus on where the puck was and block just about every shot the Hurricanes tried to send on goal. I understand the idea but there has to be a more effective way to establish "net front presence" than just planting someone in front of the net to screen the goalie.
– Alex Semin is due for a goal very soon..he had six shots on goal tonight and nine total attempts. We know that he is creating offense but the pucks just haven't been going in for him. There's less time for regression to kick in when it's a shortened year but it's getting to the point of ridiculous with some of the Hurricanes players.
Carolina was playing the second night of a back-to-back where they had more than a few guys log some heavy minutes, so it's expected for them to be fatigued, but their ineffective special teams play has been a major problem all year. Things won't get any easier the next couple of weeks with this road trip, so they will have to do some adjusting on the fly to get back in the win column.