A 4-1 loss where the losing team manages to create only 11 total scoring chances is pretty bad and that's what happened to the Hurricanes last night against Tampa Bay. It's easy to write off this game as a poor effort by the entire team, but I think that's just a lazy way of analyzing the game. There were several players on the Hurricanes who worked hard and had good games last night, so I don't want to throw the entire team under the bus. The problem was that they didn't get enough out of them, they weren't scoring and the bottom-half of the roster didn't give the team any production at all.
Of the 22 shots on goal the Hurricanes produced last night, only two of them came from their bottom-six and they only got one scoring chance out of those players, too. When you are leaning on two lines to do almost everything, it has an adverse effect on the rest of the team. Notice how three of Tampa Bay's four goals came from their depth players. Those guys were winning their battles all night long against the Hurricanes bottom-six and ended up getting rewarded for it while the Hurricanes were counting on the top of their roster to do just about everything. The Canes top-six is normally good enough to carry the team through a tough game but it wasn't the case last night and their depth problems came back to haunt them.
Carolina Hurricanes at Tampa Bay Lightning 3/16/13
Very low-event game last night with the Lightning only outchancing the Hurricanes by one at even strength despite getting four goals to show for it. Games like this are par for the course against Tampa Bay when they have a lead, but the Hurricanes probably should have been able to generate more than 11 chances against Tampa's defense. They had a territorial advantage over the Bolts, but just were not doing enough with their zone time or were getting some strange bounces every time they managed to get into a scoring area. Basically all of Carolina's production came from the top-six, too and they produced a combined 10 chances at even strength. Could they have done more? Yes, but they also need to get more than one scoring chance and two shots on goal from the bottom-six. Depth hasn't been that big of an issue as of late with Riley Nash's emergence but it was a huge problem last night.
Special teams also allowed Tampa Bay to pull away towards the end of the game. They didn't score on their one powerplay, but the Hurricanes received two powerplays in the third period and the only thing they did was just kill time off the clock, helping out the Lightning in the process. This is what needs to be fixed more than anything because this team's performance on the powerplay has been unacceptable. It's not just that they were "over-thinking" plays or anything like that last night because they could barely gain the zone let alone set up a play.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Eric Staal +4
Worst EV Forward: Adam Hall -4
Best EV Defenseman: Jamie McBain +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Justin Faulk -3
Both of the top-six lines had a positive scoring chance differential last night and produced 4-5 good chances a piece while the entire bottom-six was underwater. Drayson Bowman and Tim Wallace were the only third or fourth liners to even be on-ice for a scoring chance and Bowman's came when he got a shift with the first line. This is why I'm not throwing the entire team under the bus for their effort. Both Staal lines performed quite well last night and were able to penetrate the Lightning's defense plenty of times. They were a little deliberate with their fore-check and could have been better served to change things up in the third period but their overall performance was good.
The bottom-six's performance was at the other end of the spectrum. Tampa Bay scored three of their four goals against Carolina's third and fourth lines and neither of them were making up for it offensively. They were outworked all night and most it was against players who were new to the NHL. Out of everyone in the bottom-six, no one had a worse night than "the new guy" Adam Hall. He was inserted into the lineup less than 8 hours after joining the team, so it's going to take longer to adjust but he definitely had a rough outing to say the very least.
Jamie McBain ended up playing a lot of minutes at even strength and he did a fine job of creating offense in the absence of Joe Corvo. His one slip-up on the Nate Thompson goal aside, he had a solid night. McBain was a bright spot in a tough night for the entire defense corps. I thought Pitkanen looked good by the eye test, but he did not create many good chances and had some issues in his own end. Pitkanen's aggressive style of play can help this team a lot but there are times when it can lead to chances for the other team, his pinch on Teddy Purcell's breakaway goal being an example of that. Justin Faulk also had another tough game.
Lightning Individual Scoring Chances
|26||Martin St. Louis||17:38||5||5||1:40||2||0||0:00||0||0|
Best EV Forward: Alex Killorn +4
Worst EV Forwards: Nate Thopmson & Ryan Malone -2
Best EV Defenseman: Keith Aulie +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Matt Carle -2
Carolina's top-six either beat out Tampa Bay's at even strength or fought them to a draw but their depth forwards dominated that of the Hurricanes. Notice how it was guys like Killorn, Palat, Johnson, Conacher and Pyatt who were creating most of Tampa Bay's scoring chances and they weren't giving up much defensively either. It's frustrating that this happened because this wasn't exactly a bad matchup for Carolina's third and fourth lines but they ended up getting dominated last night for some reason. Stamkos's line also did some damage but they were giving up more in their own end than they were creating.
Head-to-Head at Five-On-Five
Guy Boucher hard matched the Thompson line against Carolina's first line which resulted in Staal and company getting plenty of good chances. Without Vincent Lecavalier, Thompson was the best available option for a defensive role and I think the Hurricanes top line was able to take advantage of this matchup. Of course, with Thompson and Stamkos constantly out against the Hurricanes top-six, it left the depth forwards out against each other for most of the game and the Lightning won this matchup cleanly. Most of the Hurricanes players did a good job of keeping the Lightning's top forwards in check, but their bottom-six ran rampant on them and that can not happen.
|1||TB||9:06||Johnson – GOAL||18||21||6||27||77||35||17||63||89||6||77||32||5v5|
|2||TB||13:25||Palat – GOAL||37||18||29||4||25||35||42||63||74||6||77||32||5v5|
|2||TB||7:05||Thompson – GOAL||20||21||36||27||44||35||44||19||12||2||25||32||5v5|
|3||TB||16:09||Purcell – GOAL||12||53||28||25||44||35||91||16||26||2||77||32||5v5|
|3||CAR||13:39||E. Staal – GOAL||12||28||21||4||25||35||91||16||26||2||25||32||5v5|