Carolina continues to play well at home as they were able to avenge their opening night loss to the Lightning by beating them 4-2 last Tuesday. Once again, we saw the Canes get off to a very strong start but run into a few road blocks along the way that could have cost them the game. The difference this time is that instead of letting all of the negative events snowball like they did on Saturday night, the Canes responded and persevered in route to a victory. This was a great way to start off the month and hopefully a sign of good things to come the rest of the way.
Chances and analysis after the jump
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Carolina’s chances are in red, Tampa’s are in blue
Ahh, scoring effects. Carolina had two goal lead for a good chunk of this game and the Lightning were doing all they could to at least cut the deficit to one, which they eventually did. The Canes got a bit fortunate after that as they took advantage of a pinching Pavel Kubina which led to a two-on-one chance which Chad LaRose scored on. After that, Carolina protected their zone and allowed only three lightning chances for the rest of the game.
Anyone who watched this game will tell you that Carolina was the better team at even strength for most of the time and that would be true. The Canes had the Lightning on the brink for the first 15 minutes of that period and didn’t allow one scoring chance until Teddy Purcell batted a loose puck out of mid-air into the net for a goal. That could have put a black spot on what was a great first period, but thankfully the Canes scored on their first powerplay of the game to tie it up before the end of the period. Carolina also controlled most of the second period at even strength as four of Tampa’s eight chances came on the 5-on-3 (all of which came from Vinny Lecavalier). Oh, and Jeff Skinner scored two beautiful goals in this period but you all probably knew about that by now.
Aside from giving up a little too many chances in the third, I was pleased with how this game went overall. Carolina came out strong, were able to answer just about everything the Lightning threw their way, avoided many potential disasters and picked up a well-deserved win.
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Chad LaRose +7
Worst EV Forwards: Tuomo Ruutu & Jeff Skinner -5
Best EV Defenseman: Jamie Mcbain +5
Worst EV Defenseman: Jay Harrison -4
I know the first thing on everyone’s mind is when they look at the table above. “Why is Jeff Skinner listed as the worst forward? Your fancy stats are bullshit!” I should mention that six of the Tampa Bay chances that Skinner was on ice for came when Tampa was trailing by two goals, he was actually productive when the score was tied or close. He was also on-ice for Brett Connolly’s third period goal. Also of note is that five of those six chances against came after Jussi Jokinen’s injury in the third period when the second line was being centered by Tim Brent. This is why we look at context with stats like this!
The real first star of this game was Chad LaRose. He actually looked like a real first liner out there as he produced five of the chances he was on ice for at even strength and capped things off with a nice goal in the third period. His desire to get to the loose puck in the crease on the powerplay goal was great to see, too. The entire first line was very good in this game as both Tlusty and Staal had productive nights. It’s so great to see Staal get back on the positive side of the ledger as I thought he had a great night by the eye-test, too. Although, Tampa didn’t send their top defensive unit out against them, though. Nope. Eric Brewer and Victor Hedman ended up playing against Skinner’s line more than anyone else. Hey, at this rate I’m glad that Staal is at least producing even if it’s not against the toughest competition. McBain and Pitkanen also had a great game despite the former not getting on the score-sheet. It’s even better when you consider they went up against Stamkos’ line for most of the game. Gleason and Allen struggled a little bit and Allen was on ice for both Tampa Bay goals (though the first one wasn’t his fault).
Head-to-head at even strength
Pitkanen, McBain, Tlusty, Staal and LaRose all deserve a big round of applause for how well they played against the Stamkos line. Granted, that’s easier when Martin St. Louis isn’t playing there but what they did was impressive. Bryan Allen and Tim Gleason have been carrying the load on defense for most of this season so it was really nice to see Pitkanen and McBain have a game like this against a really tough line. Allen and Gleason fared only alright against Tampa’s second line but came out negative against them. Remember how Dominic Moore’s line was dominated last game? They returned the favor against Carolina’s second line and held them quiet for most of the game. Unfortunately for them, the one time that line wasn’t quiet was for Jeff Skinner’s two goals. Oops. Brandon Sutter’s line also saw some time against Stamkos and they negated just about everything they tried to do. The defense pairing that took a beating for the Canes was Kaberle and Harrison as they lost almost all of their matchups and gave up a lot in their own end. After a string of impressive games from them, it was a disappointing outing from them but I’m willing to bet a lot of those chances came when the Canes were up by two. Pavel Kubina also took a pounding from the Staal line and he was used with Victory Hedman for some time during this game, which was interesting but I think Boucher was pairing him and Brewer with a more offensive partner during the later stages of the game to generate a comeback. Hey, it sort of worked.