Last night's 4-1 win over the Penguins is one of those games that fans won't want to nit-pick at because it was such a strong performance by the entire team. The top two lines played great, Cam ward played great, the PK was the strongest it's been all season and the Canes did an excellent job of containing the Penguins at even strength. That all led to an impressive win and a huge confidence boost for this team head into the weekend series against Florida. Playing well at even strength is usually what wins games and the Hurricanes did that last night, so there isn't much to complain about overall. The only real problem that can be drawn out from last night's win is that the Hurricanes offense was heavily relient on their top players, meaning they were the only ones who produced and almost nobody else pitched in.
We'll discuss this and more after the jump.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Carolina Hurricanes 2/28/13
It was actually a fairly even game last night despite the Hurricanes winning by three goals. The Canes may have had a chance to run away with the chance battle, but they opted to play more conservative with a big lead instead of trying to add on more, which was probably the right choice. They weren't just sitting back and letting the Penguins do whatever they wanted, though as they held them to only three total scoring chances in the third period. Considering how potent the Penguins offense can be, I think the Canes defense did a fantastic job at limiting Pittsburgh's scoring opportunities. The numbers could have been much uglier in a three-goal game.
Hurricanes Individual Numbers
|#||Player||EV||PP||SH||Net Zone Starts|
Best EV Forwards: Jordan Staal & Jeff Skinner +3
Worst EV Forward: Jussi Jokinen -4
Best EV Defenseman: Justtin Faulk +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Jamie McBain -4
The Hurricanes top two lines won their matchups and got the job done last night but nobody else did. Drayson Bowman and Patrick Dwyer were the only bottom-sixers to be on-ice for a scoring chance and they each came when they were spending time with one of the top-six lines. Dwyer's just happened to result in a goal. There are a couple ways you can look at this. The optimist in me is glad that the Canes best players rose to the occasion and played great while the skeptic in me is worried that the depth forwards did basically nothing. Perhaps Muller is onto something by not keeping Dwyer in the top-six full-time?
The defense corps had a similar performance with Faulk and Harrison winning their matchups and the third pairing getting destroyed by Pittsburgh's depth forwards. This didn't come back to haunt the Hurricanes, though because Muller made sure that either one of Faulk or Gleason was out against Sidney Crosby's line while the third pairing was assigned Pittsburgh's depth lines. Faulk did a terrific job of containing Crosby's line, allowing only four scoring chances against when he was on the ice and playing his shadow the entire time.
Penguins Individual Numbers
|#||Player||EV||PP||SH||Net Zone Starts|
Best EV Forward: Tyler Kennedy +5
Worst EV Forward: Craig Adams -3
Best EV Defenseman: Brooks Orpik +4
Worst EV Defenseman: Matt Niskanen -4
Pittsburgh's first line was held in check while their second and third lines were able to some damage against the Hurricanes depth players. Not having the last change prevented Bylsma from getting Sutter out against Eric Staal's line like I thought he would, so that may have been a problem for him.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
The only time Crosby's line had any success is when they were out against Carolina's third line and even then they stayed somewhat quiet on the scoresheet. Muller was also able to get a favorable matchup by getting Jordan Staal on ice against Pittsburgh's fourth line which led to Jeff Skinner's goal and they also did some damage to the Niskanen/Letang pairing. The only line the Cane had trouble with all night was Kennedy-Jeffrey-Cooke and most of their offense came against the Canes 2nd and 3rd defense pairing.
|1||PIT||6:46||Kunitz – GOAL||12||19||28||27||44||30||87||14||18||2||41||29||5v5|
|1||CAR||0:24||E. Staal – GOAL||12||19||28||6||77||30||87||27||24||5||58||29||5v5|
|2||CAR||15:57||Tlusty – GOAL||12||19||28||6||27||30||87||14||18||2||7||29||5v5|
|2||CAR||14:11||Skinner – GOAL||11||53||39||44||77||30||46||27||10||7||41||29||5v5|
|2||CAR||0:11||Tlusty – GOAL||12||19||28||27||44||30||87||9||18||7||41||29||5v5|