If there is one thing Hurricanes fans know from years of following the team, it is that nothing comes easy and last night's 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils is a fine example of that. This was a relatively "important" game for Carolina and they certainly looked like they were up to the challenge in the early stages, gaining an early 1-0 lead and building on it with another three-goal second period. They also outshot the Devils 19-13 during that time frame and looked like a much faster team compared to what we have seen over the last couple of weeks. It was the first time in awhile that they had significantly outplayed their opponent and with a 4-1 lead entering the third period, the Hurricanes were en route to their first "easy" win of the season. Or at least that's how things appeared then.
As most teams do when playing with a lead, Carolina opted to sit back for most of the third and the Devils gave them just about everything they could handle. They spent most of that period playing in Carolina's end and while the Hurricanes only surrendered nine shots, they had trouble getting the puck out of the zone and were getting severely outworked by the Devils. Carolina did a good job of limiting chances, but this goes back to the reoccurring problem with the team spending too much time defending and playing in their own end, which is going to result in bad things and the Devils nearly got a point because of it tonight. They scored twice in the third period and were an amazing save by Cam Ward away from tying the game. You can chalk Carolina's third period play up to them defending a three-goal lead, but this type of strategy isn't always the best thing to do and it might hurt them against teams with more offensive talent than New Jersey.
Still, there was enough to be encouraged about from last night, as the Hurricanes outplayed a good possession team for 40 minutes and got two big points in the standings. A nice way to go into the Thanksgiving break before the two teams see each other in a rematch on Friday night.
Fenwick Timeline from Extra Skater
Patrick Dwyer's shorthanded goal came at a perfect time because the Devils were generating some pressure late in the second period before getting that power play. They could have easily made it a closer game before the third period, but Dwyer's goal gave the Hurricanes a big enough cushion for them to play a safer game the rest of the way. Carolina also started out the third period well, holding the Devils to no shots early on but it didn't take long for them to mount some offense and Carolina spent most of that period trying to fend them off. They looked like they were in survival mode for the last five minutes and needed Cam Ward to come up big a couple of times to preserve the regulation win.
This more or less reiterates the earlier chart, the only difference being that the Hurricanes were able to maintain an advantage in even strength scoring chances for the entire game. That's mostly because the Devils had two of their chances with the goalie pulled, including their third goal. Either way, the gist of it is that the Hurricanes started out well, outplayed the Devils through 40 minutes and let them get back into it in the third. They didn't allow too many chances despite getting vastly outshot, but that could have been a different story if the Devils didn't miss the net so often or try about 50% of their shots from the point. Carolina is playing well in the defensive zone, but they are still having trouble turning it into offense, especially after they get hemmed in, which is happening far too often.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Hurricanes On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Drayson Bowman, Radek Dvorak & Manny Malhotra +3
Worst EV Forward: Elias Lindholm -3
Best EV Defenseman: Ron Hainsey +5
Worst EV Defensemen: Ryan Murphy & Jay Harrison -3
It's hard for a team to win when the fourth line carries most of the offense, but that was the case for the Hurricanes last night. Radek Dvorak, Manny Malhotra & Drayson Bowman produced two goals and were easily Carolina's best territorial unit, registering positive shot differentials despite taking no faceoffs in the offensive zone. Muller rewarded these three with top-nine minutes and they earned every second of them. I thought Dvorak played his best game as a Hurricane, as he had two key zone entries which resulted in goals for Carolina and produced two chances on top of that. Dvorak's had a tough time driving the play forward, but more nights like this out of him would be appreciated.
Also having a good night offensively was the first line of Eric Staal, Tuomo Ruutu & Nathan Gerbe, who produced another goal and had nearly 1/3 of Carolina's even strength chances. Ruutu's game has slowly been coming along these past few weeks and he seems to be stepping into Tlusty's old role as the "finisher" on this line. With Semin not on this line right now, Staal is drawing in a lot of defenders and it's opening up more space for Ruutu & Gerbe the last couple of games. If he can continue to find gaps in the defense and go to the scoring areas, Ruutu should be able to produce at a decnet rate.
Carolina's first and fourth lines coming up in the black last night was huge because both their second and third lines had rough nights. Jordan Staal was somewhat of a non-factor at even strength and Patrick Dwyer was the one leading most of the rushes & creating opportunities on his line. His shorthanded goal was obviously huge, but Dwyer had a lot more contributions beyond that including leading the team in shots. He is playing some great hockey right now and it's catching the eyes of the coaching staff.
Also catching the eye of the coaching staff tonight was Ron Hainsey, who had a terrific game and was rewarded with 21+ minutes of ice time. Hainsey was on the ice for only one scoring chance, which unfortunately was Jaromir Jagr's goal, but he and Brett Bellemore did a pretty amazing job at keeping the Devils offense quiet when they were on the ice. Bellemore had a slip-up in the neutral zone on Zajac's goal, but he did enough otherwise to have a good game. If there is one thing that I really like about him, it is that he seems to make up for most of his mistakes on the next try, even if that error ends up resulting in a goal against.
Andrej Sekera & Justin Faulk had big games offensively, with the former recording two secondary helpers and the latter scoring his first goal of the season. Faulk was especially good offensively, as he was on the ice for over half of Carolina's even strength scoring chances. However, these two were also on the ice for most of the Devils shots in the third period, which was a little concerning. They are obviously going to get most of the shutdown minutes, but the fact that they are getting hemmed this often is a problem.
New Jersey Devils Individual Scoring Chances
New Jersey Devils On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Andrei Loktionov & Dainius Zubrus +2
Worst EV Forwards: Patrik Elias, Mattias Tedenby & Jacob Josefson -2
Best EV Defensemen: Mark Fayne & Andy Greene +3
Worst EV Defensemen: Marek Zidlicky & Eric Gelinas -4
The Hurricanes caught Patrik Elias' line on an off-night, but the Jagr-Zajac-Zubrus line had a very solid game, producing seven scoring chances. They could have easily had a few more if Zubrus didn't fan on a couple of shots. Their third line was also very good and Michael Ryder was responsible for most of their chances. The Devils also saw a great game out of the Greene-Fayne defense pairing, who did a fantastic job of controlling scoring chances and giving Jordan Staal's line little room to operate. Unfortunately, all of that was undone by the Zidlicky/Gelinas defense pairing, who played against Eric's line for part of the game. The Merrill/Harrold pairing also struggled against Carolina's depth forwards and had some issues with getting the puck out of their own zone.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
Going from the head-to-head reports on Extra Skater, DeBoer didn't really match up one line against another, but he did use the last change to his advantage a couple times. However, most of his top players lost the battle against Carolina's and his depth players didn't fare much better. The only line which New Jersey had a big advantage against was Nash's and that was negated by Malhotra's line winning most of their matchups.
5v5 Zone Entries
|# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
This was probably the best performance Carolina has seen out of their fourth line all season. Dvorak, Malhotra & Bowman had 15 zone entries, five of them coming with control of the puck and two of them producing goals. There is only so much skill on this line, so dump-and-chase is usually their only option, but Dvorak & Bowman were able to do more and it really paid off, especially with the second & third lines having off-nights. On another note, the first line had control of the puck on all but two of their zone entries and as a team, the Hurricanes had control of about 47%. The Devils are really good at clogging the neutral zone and forcing teams to dump the puck in, so the Hurricanes did a decent job here, all things considered.
|Player||# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
Zajac, Ryder, Zubrus, Henrique and Jagr did most of the heavy-lifting for the Devils in the neutral zone and Zubrus was the only one who had trouble gaining the line with control on a regular basis. I thought Jagr would have better numbers here, too but he was still able to carry the puck in on half of his entries. Most of the Devils forwards were able to win the battle in the neutral zone, but their defensemen combining for zero controlled entries brought down their team numbers.
5v5 Zone Exits
Carolina's breakouts were ugly to watch, especially when they were led by a defenseman. Ryan Murphy and Jay Harrison were the only defense pairing to advance the puck on at least 20% of their attempts and the other pairings had to use a forward to help drive the play. That isn't a bad thing since the Devils are so good at taking the middle of the ice away, but the high number of turnovers is concerning. The fact that eight of them came from the Faulk/Sekera pairing is even more troublesome. That said, Carolina's forwards all did a pretty good job of carrying the play out of the zone and it really helped the team's transitional play in the first and second periods.
The Devils had a pretty good game overall in terms of being able to get the puck out of their own zone. I'm not sure how much of this is boosted by the third period where Carolina had no forecheck going, but their numbers are strong overall. The only pairing that struggled to get things moving forward were Zidlicky/Gelinas, who also posted some brutal scoring chance numbers. Harrold/Merrill were also a bit of an adventure in their own end at times, but the former made enough good plays to make up for it. New Jerseys forwards were also excellent at moving the puck out when they had to.