Carolina Hurricanes Scoring Chances Through March

The Hurricanes may have finished March with a “winning” record of 7-6-3 but they did not play their best hockey this month at all. Out of the 16 games they played, the Canes outchanced their opponent at even strength a grand total of four times and controlled roughly 45.6% of the scoring chances during five-on-five play. A few awful games are bound to happen with those kind of numbers and the Canes had their fare share of blow-ups in March. They were shutout twice, were blown out by Columbus and surrendered a 4-1 lead against the Red Wings in a game where they were outchanced 23-9 at even strength.

They had a nice four game winning streak which gave fans some false hope of a miracle playoff push but the writing was on the wall that this team was about to go through another rough patch and it happened. The Hurricanes aren’t doing enough at either end of the rink to be a competitive team and things seemed to hit a wall this month as they gave up almost 40 more chances at even strength than they created. Hence why I think the team’s defensive play is something that needs to be heavily addressed this off-season.

You’ll notice that in the individual player reports, that a lot of the team’s top offensive contributors are giving up way too much in their own end. We’ll look at those numbers after the jump.

Forwards

Player EV TOI 5v5 SCF 5v5 SCA EV CF/15 EV CA/15 SC% Ozone% Feb Diff.
Drayson Bowman 441.82 128 110 4.346 3.735 0.538 55 -0.02
Jeff Skinner 879 285 249 4.863 4.249 0.534 55 0.003
Jussi Jokinen 991.05 284 264 4.298 3.996 0.518 52.8 -0.013
Chad LaRose 881.08 264 248 4.494 4.222 0.516 44.8 0.004
Eric Staal 1244.3 370 361 4.460 4.352 0.506 50.2 -0.009
Tuomo Ruutu 933.38 260 264 4.178 4.243 0.496 53.1 -0.009
Jiri Tlusty 975.85 251 264 3.858 4.058 0.487 48.3 -0.013
Average 0.482
Jerome Samson 176.3 49 54 4.169 4.594 0.476 55.3 -0.03
Brandon Sutter 1116.3 256 317 3.440 4.260 0.447 35.2 -0.004
Patrick Dwyer 914.35 171 218 2.805 3.576 0.44 37.8 -0.011
Andreas Nodl 512.3 109 142 3.191 4.158 0.434 44.4 0.019
Derek Joslin 397.75 76 102 2.866 3.847 0.427 58.2 N/A
Tim Brent 662.52 104 161 2.355 3.645 0.392 48.4 -0.006
Anthony Stewart 576.42 97 157 2.524 4.086 0.382 56.5 -0.017

EV TOI = even strength time on ice, 5v5 SCF = Scoring chances for, SCA = scoring chances against, CF/15 = scoring chance for per 15 minutes, CA/15 = scoring chances against per 15 minutes, SC% = scoring chance percentage, OZone% = offensive zone start percentage, Feb Diff = scoring chance percentage difference from February

Just about everyone who has played in the top-six are controlling at least 50% of the even strength scoring chances, with the exceptions being Tuomo Ruutu and Jiri Tlusty. Both of whom saw their play decline a little bit during March and Ruutu’s fall-off is a lot more obvious than Tlusty’s. Ruutu had only three assists in 12 games during March and saw a reduction in ice-time in a few games while Tlusty had three goals and eight points in 13 games. Tlusty is having a great season but his game away from the puck needs a lot of work and his defensive shortcomings were exposed big time in March. Both of these players were above the 50% mark in scoring chances last month and now they have dropped below it. The good news is that they are still performing above the team average.

Jeff Skinner is still leading the way in most categories and he didn’t quite have the outbreak I was expecting, but he was still very solid in March with 10 points in 14 games. He was also able to improve his scoring chance percentage from the previous month, which a lot of the other forwards failed to do. One of the most notable is Skinner’s linemate Jussi Jokinen, who had 12 points in March but his underlying numbers fell off a little bit. Despite that, he is still the best top-six forward in defensive play as he is giving up fewer chances relative to his ice time than anyone else. The protected minutes he’s been receiving have helped him with that, though.

The team’s best defensive forward is still Patrick Dwyer who had a rough month, but he is still playing stronger in his own end than any other forward right now. It is odd to see how he is constantly outperforming Brandon Sutter in chances against because the two of them always play together at even strength.

Chad LaRose had a good month and he’s actually been on ice for roughly the same amount of scoring chances as Eric Staal. LaRose always seems to be one of the team’s better players at getting shots and chances on net so this isn’t really surprising, especially after you factor in that the two played on a line together for most of March. However, LaRose and Staal are giving up A LOT of chances, too.

It was really nice to see Drayson Bowman score a few goals this month as he’s been doing all the right things and getting the puck into the opponent’s zone but he just couldn’t seem to catch a break. That all changed in March as he scored four goals and continued to be one of the team’s better players at generating scoring chances. He could be here to stay next year if he has a good enough camp. The future for the other Charlotte Checker alum, Jerome Samson does not look nearly as bright, unfortunately. He was sent down earlier in the month and it’s easy to see why. He got soft minutes and was getting outchanced just about every game. That’s not the way to go if you want to make an impact.

The fourth line sits at the bottom of the pile in scoring chances and all of their numbers are pretty atrocious. Stewart is getting some of the easiest zone starts on the team and can barely keep the puck in the offensive zone. He is also giving up twice as many chances as he is creating, which is why he barely gets more than 6 minutes per game nowadays. Brent isn’t much better but he’s has been okay defensively when you factor in his zone starts and Joslin was almost as bad as Stewart.

Defense

Player EV TOI 5v5 SCF 5v5 SCA EV CF/15 EV CA/15 SC% Ozone% Feb Diff.
Jaroslav Spacek 588.4 142 113 3.62 2.88 0.557 58.6 0.017
Jamie McBain 1150.5 316 314 4.12 4.09 0.502 50.8 0.006
Average 0.482
Jay Harrison 1163.5 327 354 4.22 4.56 0.48 50.4 -0.003
Justin Faulk 1086 319 346 4.41 4.78 0.48 52.1 -0.009
Bryan Allen 1300.8 288 316 3.32 3.64 0.477 40.8 -0.021
Joni Pitkanen 426.18 112 129 3.94 4.54 0.465 46.5 N/A
Tim Gleason 1372.2 313 379 3.42 4.14 0.452 39.6 -0.006
Bobby Sanguinetti 25.47 3 7 1.77 4.12 0.3 50 N/A

Bryan Allen’s play has dropped off so much lately, it seems. He’s been making a lot more mistakes in his own end and it clearly shows here as he’s now below the team average in scoring chance percentage. I have to think that the mileage is starting to pile up on him because he’s been playing against opposing team’s top lines all season and passing with shining colors until the last two months. Gleason’s play has been steady throughout the year but Allen’s has taken a sharp decline.

Justin Faulk and Jay Harrison are right at the team average and you can see that Faulk’s play in his own end is still a work in progress. Muller has lightened his workload at even strength a little bit, but he is still just a kid and is adjusting to the NHL. It is pretty amazing that he is outperforming the rest of the defense offensively at such a young age, though. I am still not sure if Harrison would be a top-four defender on a good team but he has made impressive strides from last year.

The only two defensemen who are performing above the team average are Jaro Spacek and Jamie McBain, and the latter is barely keeping his head above the 50% mark. His minutes have gotten tougher since Joni Pitkanen’s return, so it’s good to see him play decently while not being protected like he has been for most of 2012. Speaking of Pitkanen, he’s gotten off to a bit of a rocky start since his return. Giving up way too much in his own end for my liking, but that’s with his data from the beginning of the year factored in.

Like I said, the team’s overall defensive play needs a lot of work….

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