Last night, the Hurricanes nearly won a game that they had no business being in. They may have shown some "character" by battling back to tie the game in the second period and taking the lead in the third, but the Leafs were more deserving of the win. Toronto held Carolina to only six even strength scoring chances to the entire game and took 14 more shot attempts than them at even strength. There were only two Carolina players who were not outchanced at even strength in this game, most it being due to the Hurricanes being unable to produce offense while not on the powerplay. This goes down as a "heartbreaking loss" to some, but the only "heartbreaking" thing is whatever happened to this team over the last two weeks.
There was a time when the Hurricanes were a great team at even strength, outchanced their opponents regularly and generally were the better team even if they didn't pick up the win. It's pretty easy to remember this time because it was only a month ago and that really makes the last two weeks even more frustrating. We know that this team is what they've shown lately, and seeing them play at a level such lower than their ability is both frustrating and depressing. It's a mystery as to when this team will put the pieces back together but it might be too late by the time they do.
Carolina Hurricanes at Toronto Maple Leafs 3/28/13
Aside from a brief stretch in the second period, the Hurricanes were simply awful last night. Special teams helped them make it close and they nearly won until the Leafs exploded with a couple of third period goals. There are many people scapegoating certain players (Peters, Corvo, Skinner), but the entire team was bad last night. They were bad offensively (six even strength chances), terrible defensively (gave up over 20 chances) and were not bailed out by their goaltender. The fact that they were able to have a lead in this game was somewhat of a miracle. While Peters did look weak on three of the four goals he allowed, the team around him also failed in many ways.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Tim Brent +1
Worst EV Forwards: Jeff Skinner & Jordan Staal -6
Best EV Defenseman: Brett Bellemore +1
Worst EV Defenseman: Jamie McBain -6
Again, you can't look for one scapegoat here because the entire team was bad. The worst part of it is that even their best offensive players (Eric Staal's line) were still greatly outchanced at even strength. I thought both Staal, Semin & Tlusty collectively had a good game when you take their special teams contributions into account, but at even strength, they were on the losing end of the scoring chance battle. Still, they performed much better than the Jordan Staal line who probably had the worst night relative to expectations. I thought adding Tuomo Ruutu could make this line even better, but his debut in the top-six wasn't very good and Skinner had a brutal showing. The bottom-six didn't do much to contribute either and I find it a little odd that people think Jussi Jokinen has no place on this team right now because they sure could have used him last night. Seeing how the third line did absolutely nothing as a unit.
I'm not sure where to begin with the defense. Jamie McBain and Joni Pitkanen are simply not good as a tough-minutes pairing. They have been eaten alive by other team's top-sixes the last few games and this was with them getting a zone start push. McBain has been good when used on the third pairing, but he's been a liability when forced to do anything more than that. That and I'm not sure if Pitkanen is the best partner for him in this type of role. Maybe he would be slightly better with a player more steady such as Gleason? Not that he was any better last night, but the pairings do need a shake-up.
Someone has to step up in the injury to Justin Faulk and none of the defensemen have been able to do that. Corvo also had his worst showing in quite awhile despite recording a pair of assists. The only positive in the defense corps was rookie Brett Bellemore, who did a fine job against Toronto's third line. I'm not sure if he can do more outside of this role, though.
Maple Leafs Individual Scoring Chances
|21||James Van Riemsdyk||14:10||7||0||1:50||0||0||1:28||0||0|
Best EV Forwards: Tyler Bozak & Phil Kessel +8
Worst EV Forwards: Frazer Mclaren, Nikolai Kulemin & Nazem Kadri EVEN
Best EV Defensemen: Dion Phaneuf & Mike Kostka +5
Worst EV Defenseman: Mark Fraser +1
Toronto's first line had a field day and the Hurricanes did not have an answer for them whatsoever. It's kind of surprising that they only produced only goal because it easily could have been more than that. Kessel basically was the main catalyst for the Leafs offense all night, factoring into half of their even strength scoring chances and keeping play in Carolina's end whenever he was on the ice. Without Kessel on the ice, the Leafs only outchanced Carolina 8-5 at even strength, that's how good he (and his linemates) were. The only thing the Hurricanes were able to do well was keep the red hot Nazem Kadri somewhat in-check, which really didn't matter since Bozak's line dominated.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
Kessel's line had about as dominant of a performance as you can expect. Both Staal lines were crushed at even strength and so was all of Carolina's top-four. Muller actually tried to get both top-four pairings out against that line and they were just unable to shut them down no matter what. Matchup issues were going to happen in Justin Faulk's absence since the Hurricanes are short on top-four defensemen, but Corvo/Gleason actually did a fairly good job against Kadri's line for most of the game. Kessel's line was able to do enough damage to make up for it, though and Grabovski inexplicably being Toronto's third line center also caused some matchup problems. You might also notice how much Jordan Staal's line was run over, as they couldn't even do much against Toronto's second and third defense pairings. That is obviously not good.
|1||TOR||16:02||Bozak – GOAL||11||53||15||4||25||35||42||81||21||4||45||34||5v5|
|2||TOR||10:57||Franson – GOAL||11||39||6||77||35||42||81||19||3||4||34||4v5|
|2||CAR||8:31||E. Staal – GOAL||12||28||6||44||35||42||81||19||3||4||34||4v5|
|2||CAR||4:08||Semin – GOAL||12||19||53||28||77||35||11||42||3||36||34||5v4|
|3||CAR||13:05||J. Staal – GOAL||11||53||15||6||77||35||43||19||41||36||45||34||5v5|
|3||TOR||5:25||Phaneuf – GOAL||11||12||28||6||77||35||42||81||19||3||4||34||5v5|
|3||TOR||3:15||Lupul – GOAL||12||19||28||25||77||35||42||81||19||3||36||34||5v5|