CanesCaps101013

Game 4 By the Numbers: Hurricanes at Capitals

Perhaps the biggest question coming into this season was whether or not the Carolina Hurricanes would dispel the narrative about them being a "fragile" team. Last night's 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals was a good step towards that. The Canes were faced with a bit of adversity in yesterday's game and had every reason to lose just like the team last year did, but that didn't happen. Between the Caps getting two fluky goals and the Canes getting into penalty trouble, this had all the makings of a 2013 Hurricanes collapse, but Carolina managed to battle back from every road block and get a nice win.

The team showed a lot of resilience and this was a good character-building win, but how was their actual on-ice performance?

Fenwick Timeline from Extra Skater

Carolina was actually out-playing Washington up until Jason Chimera's goal in the first period which squeaked through the pads of Khudobin. After that, the Caps seemed to take control and had an advantage in possession until Semin's power play goal in the second period. Although, an interesting observation here is that the Hurricanes actually outshot Washington 12-5 in the second period when it looks like they were outplayed going by Fenwick events.This is because Carolina did a lot of their damage late in the period after the Semin goal and took advantage of a couple of late power plays. They got the better of Washington in the third period, though and did a fairly good job of making the Caps defense work and creating chances. The only negative side of this is that they also gave up a lot and nearly allowed Washington to tie the game late in the third when they got into penalty trouble. Definitely not the easiest game for fans to sit through but it was a decent performance by Carolina against a pretty dangerous team.

Scoring Chances

Period Total EV PP 5v3 SH 3v5 4v4 EN
1 7 10 5 7 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0
2 7 2 5 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 7 7 6 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 2
Totals 21 19 16 13 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 2

Carolina's defense was porous in the first period but they put the clamps on Washington during 5v5 play after that, outchancing them 11-6 in the final two periods. Of course, a good chunk of this game was played at different situations and the Caps nearly evened things up with the Canes during those instances. Carolina won the special teams battle by scoring on a five-on-three power play and blanking the Caps on their five attempts, but Washington seemed to get the better of the 4v4 play, despite the chances being only 2-2 there. The Caps also recorded two last-minute chances with the empty net, which some people might write off but that's how the Canes blew a lead to the Red Wings in the home opener. They were a little lucky that it didn't happen this time around.

Carolina Hurricanes Scoring Chances

# Player 5v5 PP SH 4v4
4 Andrej Sekera 21:07 8 5 0:30 0 0 2:19 0 1   2 1
7 Ryan Murphy 8:45 1 2 3:27 2 0 0:00 0 0   0 0
11 Jordan Staal 13:03 8 3 2:51 0 0 2:13 0 1   0 0
12 Eric Staal  14:43 6 4 5:10 3 0 2:12 0 0   1 1
14 Nathan Gerbe 11:44 8 3 2:44 0 0 0:48 0 0   0 0
16 Elias Lindholm 9:53 0 3 3:55 3 0 0:00 0 0   0 0
18 Radek Dvorak 10:31 4 5 0:03 0 0 0:17 0 0   1 0
19 Jiri Tlusty 13:38 5 4 4:13 2 0 0:14 0 0   0 0
20 Riley Nash 9:04 2 2 0:00 0 0 1:22 0 1   0 0
21 Drayson Bowman 7:24 0 0 0:00 0 0 0:00 0 0   0 0
27 Justin Faulk 21:36 8 6 3:42 1 0 2:45 0 1   0 0
28 Alexander Semin 16:16 6 4 4:35 3 0 1:40 0 0   2 1
39 Patrick Dwyer 12:39 6 3 0:00 0 0 1:25 0 1   0 0
42 Brett Sutter 8:19 0 0 0:00 0 0 0:06 0 1   0 0
44 Jay Harrison 10:03 2 3 2:11 0 0 0:48 0 1   0 0
53 Jeff Skinner  9:28 3 5 2:24 1 0 0:00 0 0   0 0
65 Ron Hainsey 16:26 6 4 0:00 0 0 2:54 0 0   1 1
73 Brett Bellemore 15:50 7 4 0:00 0 0 3:16 0 1   1 0
31 Anton Khudobin  46:50 16 13  7:09 3 0 6:01 0 2   2 1

Best EV Forwards: Nathan Gerbe & Jordan Staal +5

Worst EV Forward: Elias Lindholm -3

Best EV Defenseman: Andrej Sekera +3

Worst EV Defensemen: Jay Harrison & Ryan Murphy -1

Nathan Gerbe & Jordan Staal have formed some pretty great chemistry early on in the season and have produced goals in each of the last two games. They've also been on the positive side in both the scoring chance and possession battle in almost every game this year, which is great news going forward. I'm not sure how long it will be until it wears off but as of right now, this line has been the most active offensively for the Hurricanes and they are contributing in all three zones, so I'm in favor of keeping them together for now. 

Some other encouraging signs from this game is the Hurricanes first line starting to look more like they did last year. Eric Staal & Alex Semin produced one goal on the power play, but their performance at even strength was also good, or at least it was compared to their first few games. This line wasn't one that could dominate teams territorially, but they were a threat to score whenever they were on the ice and they showed signs of being able to do that again last night. Their performance on the PK should not be ignored either.

Speaking of being a threat to score, Jeff Skinner had two assists in under 12 minutes of ice time. He did not have his best game by any means, but he made a key zone-entry on Lindholm's fluky goal and added a secondary assist on Semin's power play goal. This is kind of the opposite of how last year went for Skinner, where he was producing in other areas but couldn't find his way onto the scoresheet at all.

Lindholm didn't have an impressive performance at even strength despite getting his first NHL goal which was not logged as a scoring chance. Although, I thought he had a better game than the numbers indicate and he is starting to look more comfortable in the NHL. Semin's power play goal wouldn't have happen if Lindholm didn't win the offensive zone faceoff to set it up.

Justin Faulk and Andrej Sekera both had terrific games at even strength and I thought Sekera played his best game as a Hurricane. He hasn't been afraid to pinch or jump into the play when the opportunity presents itself, but what stands out to me is that he has enough awareness to get back and cover for his mistakes when they happen. A key example of this being when he turned the puck over to Mikhail Grabovski while trying to enter Washington's zone. Instead of getting burned, he was able to hustle back and make a great defensive play on Grabovski. Most Carolina defensemen in year's past would have gotten torched on a play like this but Sekera has been responsible enough to cover up for his mistakes and not let them hurt the team when they do happen. He is exactly the kind of puck-moving defenseman the Canes needed. 

Brett Bellemore is proving to be a really nice find for the Canes, too. Nothing he does is going to dazzle you, but he has been solid in pretty much all phases and is currently playing top-four minutes against other team's skilled forwards. He's had some trouble moving the play forward on his own but his play in his own end has been very good. He's usually the first guy to make a play on an opposing forwards to deny a zone entry or chase him down to prevent him from getting a shot away. It's only four games, but I really like what I've seen from Bellemore thus far.

Capitals Individual Scoring Chances

# Player EV PP Sh 4v4
4 John Erskine 12:00 3 3 0:04 0 0 3:46 0 2   0 0
8 Alex Ovechkin 14:41 4 9 5:20 2 0 0:02 0 0   0 0
10 Martin Erat 7:03 0 0 0:06 0 0 2:06 0 0   0 0
16 Eric Fehr 9:37 2 1 0:49 0 0 0:30 0 0   0 0
19 Nicklas Backstrom 15:37 4 9 3:53 1 0 0:05 0 1   0 0
20 Troy Brouwer 11:45 3 6 4:26 1 0 2:59 0 2   0 0
21 Brooks Laich 14:31 3 5 0:25 0 0 3:45 0 2   1 1
25 Jason Chimera 11:12 3 2 0:06 0 0 2:02 0 0   1 1
27 Karl Alzner 16:34 4 3 0:06 0 0 3:05 0 1   1 2
34 Alexander Urbom  15:54 4 9 0:00 0 0 0:18 0 0   0 0
42 Joel Ward 12:31 4 1 1:23 1 0 1:46 0 0   0 0
43 Tom Wilson 6:34 0 1 0:04 0 0 0:00 0 0   0 0
46 Michael Latta 6:03 0 1 0:00 0 0 1:00 0 0   0 0
52 Mike Green 17:58 5 4 5:16 2 0 0:00 0 0   2 1
61 Steve Oleksy 13:34 4 7 0:06 0 0 1:20 0 0   0 0
74 John Carlson 17:13 2 5 1:16 0 0 5:49 0 3   1 1
84 Mikhail Grabovski 12:59 5 6 4:02 2 0 0:00 0 0   0 0
90 Marcus Johansson 15:34 5 8 1:24 1 0 0:00 0 0   2 2
70 Braden Holtby  45:59 13 16 5:35 2 0 7:07 0 3   2 2

Best EV Forward: Joel Ward +3

Worst EV Forwards: Alex Ovechkin & Nicklas Backstrom -5

Best EV Defensemen: Karl Alzner & Mike Green +1

Worst EV Defenseman: Alex Urbom -5

Washington's top forwards were creating chances, but were giving up a ton of offense in their own end which sort of negated things. Some of their depth forwards had solid games, though, namely the third line of Chimera, Ward and Fehr. I was a little surprised to see Fehr's minutes so restricted because he looked very good by the eye-test.

Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five

The final chance report confused me a little because Alzner/Green came away with positive differentials at even strength despite being matched up with Jordan Staal's line for most of the game. The head-to-head report reveals that this line did most of their damage against the Caps third pair of Oleksy & Urbom. Their goal also came off a sloppy zone exit from the Carlson/Erskine pairing, so Muller was able to get some favorable matchups. This line also kept Ovechkin in check for most of the game and the Canes top two defense pairings also had some success against the Caps big three.

5v5 Zone Entries

Hurricanes

Player # of entries Shots generated Carry-ins Shots generated Dump-ins Shots generated Failed Entries
Sekera 1 0 0 0 1 0 1
Murphy 2 1 1 1 1 0 0
J. Staal 2 1 1 1 1 0 1
E. Staal 6 2 5 2 1 0 0
Gerbe 2 2 1 1 1 1 0
Lindholm 3 2 3 2 0 0 0
Dvorak 2 2 2 2 0 0 0
Tlusty 3 2 2 2 1 0 0
Nash 4 2 1 1 3 1 0
Bowman 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Faulk 1 1 1 1 0 0 0
Semin 2 2 1 1 1 1 0
Dwyer 6 8 4 6 2 2 1
Sutter 2 2 1 2 1 0 0
Harrison 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
Skinner 4 3 3 3 1 0 1
Hainsey 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
Bellemore 2 1 0 0 2 1 0
Team 44 31 26 25 18 6 5

The Canes carried the puck in on more than 50% of their 5v5 entries for the first time this year and a good chunk of them came from the second line. I thought Patrick Dwyer was one of the team's best players last night because of how efficiently he was able to carry the puck into the zone to create chances and get a cycle going for Carolina. Even with his low offensive upside, he is a good enough skater to do this more often and it could really make the second line a better unit than most think. Eric Staal also had a strong game in the neutral zone, as did the rest of the first line.

Capitals

Player # of entries Shots generated Carry-ins Shots generated Dump-ins Shots generated Failed Entries
Erskine 2 0 0 0 2 0 0
Ovechkin 5 5 5 5 0 0 0
Erat 4 1 2 1 2 0 1
Fehr 5 3 4 1 1 2 0
Backstrom 4 2 2 1 2 1 0
Brouwer 4 2 3 2 1 0 0
Laich 4 1 3 1 1 0 2
Chimera 5 4 1 1 4 3 0
Alzner 5 2 1 2 4 0 0
Urbom 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ward 3 2 1 1 2 1 0
Wilson 3 2 0 0 3 2 0
Latta 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Green 1 1 1 1 0 0 0
Oleksy 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Carlson 2 0 1 0 1 0 0
Grabovski 4 2 4 2 0 0 1
Johansson 3 0 0 0 3 0 2
Team 54 27 28 18 26 9 8

Based on my past studies, Washington is a team that normally doesn't have much of a problem entering the zone with possession, so it's not a surprise to see them have control on 51% of their 5v5 entries. Their first two lines had a lot of success when they did carry the puck in but did next to nothing when they were forced to play dump-and-chase, which is a negative mark against Johansson, who also had two failed zone entries. The Caps also led in even strength entries by a wide margin but didn't do as much with their zone time as Carolina did, which is probably because they dumped the puck in more often.

5v5 Zone Exits

Hurricanes

# Player Pos. Touches Carry Pass Other Turnover Icing
4 Andrej Sekera D 17 1 1 0 0 1
7 Ryan Murphy D 11 1 1 1 1 0
11 Jordan Staal C 4 0 0 0 0 0
12 Eric Staal C 7 1 0 0 1 0
14 Nathan Gerbe LW 2 2 0 0 0 0
16 Elias Lindholm C 7 3 1 0 1 0
18 Radek Dvorak RW 6 0 1 0 0 0
19 Jiri Tlusty LW 6 2 0 0 1 0
20 Riley Nash C 3 1 0 0 1 0
21 Drayson Bowman RW 4 0 0 0 0 0
27 Justin Faulk D 15 1 2 0 1 0
28 Alexander Semin RW 6 0 2 0 1 0
39 Patrick Dwyer RW 9 3 0 1 0 0
42 Brett Sutter LW 6 0 0 0 1 0
44 Jay Harrison D 6 0 0 0 2 0
53 Jeff Skinner LW 5 2 1 0 1 0
65 Ron Hainsey D 14 0 2 2 1 1
73 Brett Bellemore D 18 0 1 1 1 2

While it was a good game for Carolina in the neutral zone, they had a very difficult time leading breakouts, only advancing the puck on 22% of their attempts and their defensemen advancing the puck only 17.3% of the time. Granted, some of this is due to Sekera deferring to Faulk on his attempts and Harrison posting a goose-egg on six attempts, but there's still some improvements that can be done here. On the plus side, they didn't turn the puck over that much and Ron Hainsey advanced the puck four times on 14 entries, which is a season high for him.

Capitals

# Player Pos. Touches Carry Pass Other Turnover Icing
4 John Erskine D 13 0 0 0 2 0
8 Alex Ovechkin LW 4 0 0 0 1 1
10 Martin Erat RW 4 3 0 0 0 0
16 Eric Fehr RW 9 2 2 0 1 0
19 Nicklas Backstrom C 12 3 2 0 0 0
20 Troy Brouwer RW 4 1 0 0 0 0
21 Brooks Laich C 6 1 2 0 0 0
25 Jason Chimera LW 5 4 0 0 0 0
27 Karl Alzner D 11 1 2 0 1 0
34 Alex Urbom D 20 2 0 1 0 1
42 Joel Ward RW 2 0 0 0 0 0
43 Tom Wilson RW 8 2 1 0 0 0
46 Michael Latta C 3 0 0 0 0 0
52 Mike Green D 14 0 3 0 0 0
61 Steve Oleksy D 16 1 2 0 3 0
74 John Carlson D 20 1 3 0 1 2
84 Mikhail Grabovski C 5 2 0 0 0 0
90 Marcus Johansson LW 8 0 4 0 1 0

Washington was almost as bad as the Hurricanes were at breakouts, as their defensemen only successfully advanced the puck on 17% of their 5v5 attempts. John Carlson being the only one with more than three advances.

So after reviewing all of that, this definitely goes down as an "ugly win" for the Canes but I'm sure Muller and company are fine with that after how last season ended. This could have been a game that got away from Carolina, but they did enough to battle back and finish the job in the end. Now they await another tough test in the Los Angeles Kings tonight.

 

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