Neither the Hurricanes or the fans got the results they wanted last night. Those who got their hopes up for a win were let down and those who wanted see the team continue to "tank" also came away disappointed because the Hurricanes earned a point in the standings from the overtime loss. Kirk Muller and the team felt differently, though. In his post-game conference, Muller was very happy about the resiliency this team showed last night and how they battled back from a two-goal deficit to force overtime. The Hurricanes have been itching to find something positive to hang onto since the season is now officially lost and I guess last night's comeback is something for them to feel good about even if they didn't win. Managing to do it without Jeff Skinner in the lineup was impressive and if anything, it's a sign that the team hasn't given up despite there being no hope in this season.
For the past month or so, the Canes have had to dig themselves out of bad situations that they put themselves into and last night was no different. The difference between last night's game and the rest of the season was that they actually managed to come back and force overtime, which was encouraging but the Canes need to do something to prevent themselves from even getting into these situations in the first place. I know the team is playing shorthanded now, but these mistakes were happening even with Skinner & Pitkanen in the lineup. Last night, it was a bad first period and penalties that got the Canes into early trouble and while they managed to battle back, they still had a lot of ugly moments. Not that it matters at this point of the season, but the team is still playing for pride so I'm sure we'll see more strong efforts the rest of the way.
Carolina Hurricanes at Winnipeg Jets
This was another one of those games where the Hurricanes had the advantage in even strength puck-possession and territorial play but it wasn't resulting in a lot of scoring chances. A lot of it was because of how well the Jets were blocking shots and getting in the passing lanes, but the Canes seemed to have a lot of trouble penetrating the offensive zone and getting to the scoring areas. They settled for a lot of outside shots and they just seemed to be a bit off whenever they tried to connect on a scoring opportunity. This is where relying on dump and chase to create offense can come back to haunt you. If you can't win the battles along the boards or set up plays from down low, simply "getting the puck deep" doesn't mean a whole lot because you aren't getting many shots away and letting the other team gain possession. The Canes did this a ton in the first period and you can see the reward they got for it.
Another problem for the Hurricanes was that they got into penalty trouble during the first two periods and spent 11 of the first 40 minutes killing penalties. The Jets actually could have done a lot more damage with their powerplay time considering they only scored once on six opportunities, but Justin Peters made a few big saves to keep the Hurricanes in the game. What's more frustrating is that the Hurricanes were granted one powerplay opportunity, created two golden scoring chances, only to have Ondrej Pavelec take both of them away. Carolina's had some bad luck with opposing goalies recently with them always standing on their head but I wouldn't say this was the case last night. Pavelec made some incredibly saves but going by the chance count, he wasn't tested a whole lot and basically got the first period off.
The Hurricanes worked hard to come back and tie the game, as they were the better team for the second and third period, but it would have meant a whole lot more if they did not put themselves in an early hole with their play in the first period and tendency to take bad penalties. Of course, they may have had a chance to steal the win in OT but we all know how that ended.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Jordan Staal +2
Worst EV Forward: Eric Staal -5
Best EV Defenseman: Jay Harrison +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Tim Gleason -2
Another rough night for the first line, although they did generate the game-tying goal in the dying minutes of the third period. Their puck-possession game has been fine and they have at least been able to create a lot of zone time, but it hasn't been resulting in many chances recently. A lot of this is related to Alexander Semin, who is battling through an injury right now and seems a lot more reluctant to shoot than he was earlier in the season. He did have nine shot attempts last night, but six of them were blocked and the rest of the first line generated a combined seven shot attempts. I'm not too worried about Semin because he is creating offense even while nursing an injury and he was one of the team's better players in terms of driving the play (+9 in Shot Attempts at even strength). He was also very impressive away from the puck and had a few key takeaways in the defensive zone. It just goes to show that even when he has an off-night, Semin can still be very productive. Unfortunately, he and Eric Staal got lit up defensively at even strength. Although, a couple of chose chances against came in overtime when Muller elected to roll three forwards and one defenseman for some reason.
Another player who came out worse in scoring chances was Tuomo Ruutu, who was Carolina's best player at driving the play last night with a +12 Shot Differential at even strength. I've been saying that Ruutu keeps improving with every game and he finally got rewarded for his great play last night with a pair of goals. Him and Jordan Staal make a pretty good combination and were very good on the forecheck last night. They were able to create chances by winning battles along the boards and crashing the net, which is something this team has lacked for most of this season.
None of the other forwards in particular had noteworthy games, and Muller mixed things up a little between the third and fourth lines. The "fourth line" of Nash, Westgarth and Wallace were guilty of poor back-checking on the Bogosian goal in the first period and LaRose had a good chance in the second period but that was about all I noticed from them. One thing that did catch my eye was Muller electing to send out Westgarth, Wallace and Blanchard right after Ruutu scored in the third period to put the Canes down by one. Seeing how Wallace & Westgarth were already caught on the ice for a goal despite not playing that much, I don't think this was the wisest decision.
Joe Corvo had himself quite an eventful game. He ended up taking most of the blame for the Jets overtime goal but let's face it, the Hurricanes were doomed in that situation from the beginning. As I mentioned earlier, Muller went all-in in overtime but sending out three forwards and one defenseman, which is just asking for trouble if you can't keep the zone. They couldn't and the three forwards predictably ended up getting caught deep, leaving Corvo on an island the other way while the Jets had a two-on-one. Don't get me wrong, Corvo had a bad game defensively and he played that two-on-one about as poorly as you could, but that was a bad situation from the get-go.
Corvo took the brunt of the damage from the defense corps last night and was on the ice for over half of the Jets even strength chances, but he wasn't the only player who had some bad errors. Tim Gleason made a tough decision to play the body instead of the puck on the Jets first goal, which resulted in Bogosian slipping in untouched, but the Jets only had an odd-man rush because Justin Faulk got caught deep and none of the forwards could get back in time. This was bad, but what was worse was Bobby Sanguinetti getting turned inside out by Blake Wheeler and Jamie McBain hardly doing anything to stop him on the Jets third goal. None of these four players were awful in their own end last night but unfortunately, their errors ended up in the back of their net and that ended up making a difference.
Jets Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Andrew Ladd +4
Worst EV Forward: Eric Tangradi -3
Best EV Defensemen: Paul Postma, Grant Clitsome & Dustin Byfuglien +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Ron Hainsey -1
The Jets first line has given the Hurricanes trouble for a couple years now and that continued last night with Wheeler, Ladd and Little creating most of Winnipeg's scoring chances. These three usually struggle defensively but that wasn't the case last night since they were pretty dominant whenever they were out there. Olli Jokinen and Kyle Wellwood also had good games and I think these two love playing against Carolina since they always do well against the Canes.
Evander Kane was the only non-depth player on the Jets who had a poor game last night and he even had trouble getting anything going on the powerplay. Kane is usually one of the Jets best players whenever I watch them, but Carolian's defense did a fairly good job of neutralizing him last night. That was very important since the Ladd line and the Winnipeg didn't' have much of a problem at all.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
The Jets don't really have a defensive line from what I undrstand, so Claude Noel employed a power-vs.-power strategy with Andrew Ladd & Eric Staal's line squaring off. Judging by the scoring chances, it's pretty easy to see who won that battle. The rest of the matchups had a pretty basic approach since Jordan's line primarily used against Olli Jokinen while the third & fourth lines played most of their shifts against each other.
The defense matchups were a little more interesting since it's pretty easy to tell which defense pairing Noel wanted out against the Staal line. I know Bogosian usually gets the tough matchups but I thought Byfuglien would spend more time against the first line given how many minutes he plays.He spent the majority of the game against Jordan Staal's line and Chad LaRose rather than Carolina's top trio.
As for Muller, he didn't seem to have a lot of trouble with keeping Faulk & Gleason out against the Winnipeg first line despite not having the last change. Although, Noel did take advantage of home ice by getting those three out against McBain & Sanguinetti a few times. Unsurprisingly, they got a goal out of it.
The first line ended up on the wrong end of their matchup against Ladd, Little & wheeler and could only generate offense when they were out against Winnipeg's third line. Bogosian also managed to keep them in check despite his defense partner not having a great game. Faulk/Gleason were also beaten pretty badly by the Ladd line and that was their main matchup.
On a more positive note, Jordan Staal's line won all of their matchups and that included significant minutes against Byfuglien & Hainsey as well as the Jokinen line. They did just about everything you want a second line to do.
The Hurricanes generated only seven unblocked shot attempts on 30 uncontrolled entries and four of those shots came off dump-ins by Alexander Semin, including the game winning goal. There are times when just getting the puck deep works but you can tell by this that it wasn't working for the majority fo the game as the Canes were creating more offense when they were carrying the puck into the zone. It was nice to see the defense be a little more active in the neutral zone last night than they were against Ottawa, as the Canes had six zone entries by defensemen and they were able to generate shots off most of them.
The first line contributed to most of the team's neutral zone play, but some of the third liners chipped in a little. Both Nash & LaRose were ble to enter the zone with control a few times but didn't create much offense off them, unfortunately. Maybe they should take note of whatever Tuomo Ruutu was doing last night since it seemed to be working.
The Jets had more trouble gaining the blue line with control than the Hurricanes last night, or at least they did at even strength. The weird thing was that even when they did carry the puck in, they weren't creating much offense for whatever reason. They had only two shots on four controlled entries by Burmistrov, three on four of Little's controlled entries and zero on two of Kane's. I'm also a little surprised to see how often Ladd dumped the puck in. I haven't kept track of enough Jets games to know if he does this often, but he is normally a good possession player, so seeing him dump the puck in eight times was a surprise. Tangradi & Wright resorting to dump & chase this often doesn't surprise me, though.
|1||WPG||7:47||Bogosian – GOAL||20||8||29||6||27||35||18||26||16||24||44||31||5v5|
|2||WPG||11:33||Postma – GOAL||19||39||24||44||35||18||26||16||4||44||31||4v5|
|2||CAR||9:22||Ruutu – GOAL||11||15||28||6||27||35||8||15||27||24||44||31||5v5|
|3||WPG||11:20||Wheeler – GOAL||11||15||28||4||24||35||18||26||16||24||44||31||5v5|
|3||CAR||7:38||Ruutu – GOAL||11||15||39||47||77||35||12||13||9||6||33||31||5v5|
|3||CAR||1:12||Semin – GOAL||11||12||19||28||27||47||12||17||9||6||33||31||EN|