How do you sum up yesterday's loss to the Canucks in one word? Frustrating? Disappointing? Tiresome? Discouraging? Let's go with all of the above. Don't get me wrong, this was a much better effort compared to Friday night's loss to the Devils, but it was ten times more frustrating to watch because the Hurricanes had plenty of opportunities to get themselves in a position to win this game but ended up coming up just short. The main reason for this being that they lost the special teams battle yet again.
Carolina was given six power play opportunities and failed to score on any of them, the fact that four of those power plays came in the second & third period when they were trailing by a goal made it even worse. It's not like they were getting unlucky during this time either because aside from one chance, they weren't creating much of anything on their power plays and struggled to do simple things like create passes & gain the zone with control. I don't want to make excuses, but this power play was struggling for most of the year and not having either Alex Semin or Andrej Sekera in the lineup made it a complete train wreck.
Meanwhile, the Canucks, who have a struggling power play in their own right, scored on one of their first power play opportunities of the game and that proved to be the difference maker. Carolina actually played Vancouver closely at even strength and had one of their better performances of the season in this regard. A couple of mistakes and losing the special teams battle is why Carolina lost the game and it's not the first time that this has happened. The Canes have some things they can build on but until their power play finds a way to get out of the dumps, their season isn't going to go very far.
Fenwick Timeline from Extra Skater
In addition to the terrible special teams play, the Hurricanes fell into another bad habit yesterday by getting off to a rocky start and letting Vancouver have the edge early. The tides shifted in the second period with the Canes getting two early goals, but the Hurricanes were still playing catch-up for most of the game and Vancouver had a one-goal lead by the time Carolina gained the territorial advantage. The Canucks playing a more defensive-minded game obviously played a role in this, since they were more focused on defending their lead rather than adding to it for most of the third period. We saw the Hurricanes employ a similar strategy during their recent point-streak and the Canucks basically did the same thing, only they were much more effective at it. Carolina might have had the puck for most of the third, but they didn't create many chances and Vancouver kept basically all of their shots to the perimeter.
This looks like another "20-minute effort" from Carolina, but I thought they did some good things in the third period, despite getting blanked in chances. They were just keeping things way too simple by relying on screened shots from the point as their main source of offense. Hardly any of those shots go through because there were two layers of bodies (Carolina players screening Eddie Lack & Canucks players blocking shots) and this ended up being terribly ineffective by the end of the game. Carolina's lineup is devoid of a lot of skill and creativity without Semin and it seemed like Jeff Skinner was the only player trying to do something different with the puck instead of firing at the net aimlessly.
As for the power play, they had five chances, which looks pretty good but that was with almost 12 minutes of ice-time so they could have done a lot more. I mentioned the power plays struggles earlier and it goes behind just finding "net front presence" or any cliche like that. The Hurricanes are having trouble doing fundamental things on the power play and their passing has just been hard to watch. I don't know if Alex Semin & Andrej Sekera alone can fix this, but it really can't be any worse than it was yesterday. When Mike Komisarek & Jay Harrison are manning your second unit, then you know there are problems.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Hurricanes On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Jordan Staal, Drayson Bowman & Patrick Dwyer +3
Worst EV Forwards: Nathan Gerbe & Tuomo Ruutu -5
Best EV Defenseman: Brett Bellemore +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Mike Komisarek -4
The Hurricanes got a great game out of Jordan Staal and this is exactly how they need Jordan to play to stay competitive. His line was easily the Hurricanes best offensive unit, producing about half of their even strength chances and doing a fantastic job of controlling territorial play on top of that. They also got the scoring started with their goal in the second period, which came as the result of Jordan chasing his own rebound & Ron Hainsey jumping into the play. Him and Dwyer don't have a ton of skill but these two along with Drayson Bowman were all swarming the net and making Eddie Lack do a lot work in net. Jordan was also the team's best player on the power play, although that isn't saying too much.
The rest of the forwards, however, were more disappointing. Two of the chances Eric Staal's line generated came on one shift and while they did score on it, they were quiet the rest of the game at even strength. This wouldn't have been as much of a problem if they made up for it on the power play but we know how that story went. Although, Eric nearly came up big with a tip chance that just deflected off the goalpost.
The entire bottom-six was also ineffective for most of the game and Jeff Skinner was inexplicably held to only 10 minutes of ice-time. I understand that he is on the third line for matchup reasons but when Radek Dvorak is getting more minutes than him in a situation where the team needs offense, then that is a problem. Jiri Tlusty was also stapled to the bench for most of the second & third periods and was quickly demoted off Jordan Staal's line in favor of Drayson Bowman. He has been slumping for awhile, though and didn't seem like a good fit there.
Speaking of shake-ups, Hainsey on the first pairing lasted only one game and Muller elected to replace him with Jay Harrison. Considering how bad Faulk/Hainsey were against New Jersey, this could have easily been a lot worse as he and Harrison managed to break even in terms of scoring chances. Harrison still looks like he is skating on cinderblocks and had a miscue on Ryan Kesler's second goal, but the overall performance from these two wasn't terrible. As for Hainsey, he and Bellemore were very good and managed to keep the Sedin line in check. This makes Hainsey struggling against New Jersey that much more confusing, though since he did a fine job yesterday against one of the best lines in the NHL. Maybe he just feels more comfortable playing alongside Bellemore? It's an interesting situation.
Canucks Individual Scoring Chances
Canucks On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Ryan Kesler +5
Worst EV Forward: Alex Burrows -4
Best EV Defensemen: Jason Garrison & Alex Edler +6
Worst EV Defensemen: Kevin Bieksa & Ryan Stanton -4
Much like Jordan Staal led the way for Carolina, Ryan Kesler was the Canucks best player yesterday. He scored two big goals and dominated Eric Staal's line all afternoon. He was also very effective on both the power play and penalty kill & played about as good of a three-zone game as you will see. It's rare for the Canucks to win in a game where the Sedin twins are this bad at even strength but Kesler's performance made up for it.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
John Tortorella is all about matchups and he made sure that the Kesler line along with Dan Hamhuis & Chris Tanev were on the ice whenever Eric Staal was and you can see why. Vancouver won that matchup easily and Tortorella and Eric not doing much against Santorelli or Edler/Garrison completely made up for the Sedins being dominated by Jordan's line. That said, Carolina played well enough at even strength to at least earn a point in this game but the power play going 0/8 negated that.
5v5 Zone Entries
|# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
The Hurricanes had some strange neutral zone numbers. They were forced to play dump-and-chase for most of the game but their most effective line (21-11-39) had only three combined controlled zone entries. They made the most of those with four total shot attempts, but still low numbers overall. The defense was also more active than usual with everyone but Mike Komisarek & Jay Harrison carrying the puck in at least once. This helped Carolina's offense a little but they still weren't creating any second chances off the rush.
|Player||# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
Vancouver has been a dump-and-chase team for the majority of the season and they relied on it during yesterday's game. The Sedin line was forced to dump the puck in more than I expected them to (4/10 controlled entries) but the second & third lines somewhat made up for it, as they were able to carry the puck in on a regular basis. Kesler, Santorelli & Booth being the leaders here.
5v5 Zone Exits
Without Sekera, the immobility of this defense corps is troublesome. Ryan Murphy was the team's only defenseman to advance the puck on over 20 of his attempts and the entire defense corps advanced the puck only 15.5% of the time. Part of this is due to Justin Faulk having his worst performance of the season in this category, but the rest of these numbers are par for the course for the rest of the defense.
Vancouver also had some trouble with exiting the zone, but something to point out here is that they had fewer attempts overall than the Hurricanes, showing that they had the puck less in their own zone. This is a little odd because the Hurricanes had the edge at even strength, but Vancouver's defensive strategy probably has something to do with this. There were a lot of times where they iced the puck or just lifted it out of their own zone and made the Hurricanes start another (poor) breakout while they had an answer for it. This might not work against other teams but with the state the Hurricanes are in right now, it was good enough to get them a win.