Once again, special teams were a key factor in the Hurricanes winning this game only in a different way than the last two. Carolina spent 11:35 of this game on the powerplay thanks to some incredibly undisciplined play by Boston and were extend their 2-1 lead in the third period thanks to a couple of 5-on-3’s. As a result, Carolina outchanced Boston in this game 17-16 but lost the battle at even strength 12-11. They were not dominated by Boston in this game at even strength like they were in Buffalo but Boston playing 1/6 of the game with a man down certainly had a big factor in Carolina winning this game. It also helped that guys like Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and Dennis Seidenberg were the ones who were being penalized the most for Boston.
More after the jump
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Carolina’s chances are in red, Boston’s are in gold.
This was actually a very exciting, fast-paced game in the first period and the chances indicate that. Carolina had the upper-hand thanks to a sloppy defensive play from young Boston defenseman Matt Bartowski but Carolina tried their best not to sit on that lead in the second period and took control of this game. Carolina only allowed one Boston chance before the scrums, fights and penalties started so they weren’t feeding off that for the entire game. Carolina basically reverted to a defensive shell when playing at even strength and did their best to protect the lead and did a pretty damn good job at it. The multiple powerplays obviously helped that cause, though. This would have been a different game if we get rid of the nine powerplays that Carolina had, but you can’t undo the past.
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Chad LaRose +5
Worst EV Forward: Eric Staal -8
Best EV Defenseman: Jamie McBain +4
Worst EV Defenseman: Tim Gleason -4
The first line had a BRUTAL game at even strength. Yes, Staal and Ruutu had powerplay goals but these three were not good at even strength at all. Their zone starts weren’t terribly difficult but were dominated by Boston’s second line in five-on-five play. These three also had some brutal corsi numbers so there’s more proof of their struggles at even strength. Poni’s been relatively good in this category all year but Ruutu and Staal have had problems with this all year. Allen and Gleason also gave up quite a few chances in their own end and got the toughest assignments by far. They still haven’t been on-ice together for a goal against at even strength but I’m beginning to get a little skeptical of how long that will sustain. I hate to be Mr. Negative but these two might be playing the percentages and are getting bailed out by Cam Ward. These two have been great in previous games, though.
Okay, time for some positivity. The second line is killing it. LaRose, Skinner and Jokinen all turned in great performances at even strength and were creating a lot of offense with limited ice-time. Pitkanen may have had his best game of the season as he was contributing well at both ends of the ice. He scored a rocket of a goal, played a lot against Boston’s first game and had only 3 chances against despite that. McBain also played very well as he was the highest rated defenseman. Brandon Sutter’s line also had a fantastic game as they were on the positive end of the scoring chance spectrum but they weren’t really matched up with any of the Bruins’ lines in particular. Still, the numbers haven’t really shown his great defensive play but they did this time and I’m very happy about it.
Head-to-head at even strength
The second line was indeed killing it and the first line was getting dominated by nearly everyone. That isn’t good at all. Those three played well in Buffalo but they were simply awful in this game at even strength and it makes me wonder if we’ll see more juggling with the combinations. Gleason and Allen also took a huge beating from Patrice Bergeron’s line and Zdeno Chara. Remember how I said him taking 19 minutes worth of penalties was a huge factor? This chart illustrates that perfectly. This allowed the Canes other lines to take advantage of Johnny Boychuk and Dennis Seidenberg, who were both playing over 25 minutes and gassed by the third period. I have been critical of Boychuk before and the reason why is right here. Make him play important minutes with someone other than Chara and he is brutal. Also, Brandon Sutter’s line was impressive in this game but they were matched up a lot against the Kelly line. It was Jokinen, Skinner and LaRose who were getting to Boston’s first line more.