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Game 3 By the Numbers: Hurricanes at Penguins

If there was anything that could calm the excitement of Sunday's win over the Flyers, it was playing a road game against an elite team like the Pittsburgh Penguins. Most saw this game as a good way to find out where this team is right now and see if they are ready to compete against the top dogs of the Metropolitan Division. With the final score being a 5-2 loss, the answer appears to be no. The Canes didn't play as bad as that indicated but they looked outmatched for a good portion of the contest and had to rely on Cam Ward from making things even worse. I suppose you could consider this a "wake-up call" for Carolina, but this was far from their worst performance of the year and there are some positives to reflect on when you look at their overall performance.

Even with that, it was still not a great game from Carolina's standpoint and they are probably better off putting this one behind them heading into Washington tonight.

Fenwick Timeline

 Going by the eye-test, I thought the Canes played a lousy first period and while they were outplayed, the shot report indicates that they weren't dominated. The second period is where the Pens really started to take over and Carolina didn't have much life until about mid-way through and they began to even things up after Eric Staal's tip-in goal. The Canes actually played pretty well after that point and were able to tie the game early in the third period. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh got a quick goal after that and had a shift where they created at least five golden chances and while Cam Ward was able to stop all of them, they scored immediately after on a face-off and regained a two-goal lead. Carolina was basically playing catchup at that point and took a lead in the shot department while playing down 2-3 goals.

This matches up well with my initial post-game thoughts. Not Carolina's worst game by any means, but starting slow and spotting a team like Pittsburgh two goals is not a recipe for success.

Scoring Chances

Period Total EV PP 5v3 SH 3v5 4v4
1 2 7 2 6 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 7 3 4 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
3 6 8 5 7 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Totals 16 18 11 15 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1

Like I said earlier, it was a terrible start for the Hurricanes and they were fighting an uphill battle for most of the second period. It worked out for them, as they were able to tie the game but Pittsburgh regained control in the third and the Canes were right back to where they started. Although, I did think Carolina did an okay job of hanging around early in the game, as they should have been down by more than one goal after the first period and at least came to life while the game was in reach in the second period. The Pens found another gear in the third, though and that was pretty much all she wrote. This is a dangerous team that will usually make you pay for your mistakes and Carolina found that out the hard way.

Hurricanes 5v5 Scoring Chances

# Player EV PP Sh 4v4
4 Andrej Sekera 19:07 6 7 0:17 0 0 2:50 1 1   1 0
7 Ryan Murphy 17:20 3 4 2:35 4 0 0:00 0 0   0 0
11 Jordan Staal 16:52 7 4 1:29 4 0 2:21 0 1   0 0
12 Eric Staal 15:42 4 3 2:31 0 0 0:49 1 1   1 1
14 Nathan Gerbe 15:19 7 4 1:36 4 0 0:51 0 0   0 0
16 Elias Lindholm 7:08 0 2 2:02 1 0 0:00 0 0   0 0
18 Radek Dvorak 12:47 2 6 0:00 0 0 0:00 0 0   0 0
19 Jiri Tlusty 12:54 0 7 0:49 0 0 0:00 0 0   0 0
20 Riley Nash 12:40 0 7 0:00 0 0 0:36 0 0   0 0
21 Drayson Bowman  9:07 2 1 0:17 0 0 0:00 0 0   0 0
27 Justin Faulk 18:22 6 7 2:00 0 0 2:50 1 1   1 0
28 Alexander Semin 14:29 2 3 1:53 0 0 0:34 1 1   1 1
39 Patrick Dwyer 14:58 7 4 0:00 0 0 2:21 0 1   0 0
42 Brett Sutter 6:53 0 1 0:00 0 0 0:00 0 0   0 0
44 Jay Harrison 13:19 1 4 2:00 4 0 0:00 0 0   0 0
53 Jeff Skinner 14:09 2 3 2:12 3 0 0:00 0 0   0 0
65 Ron Hainsey 19:54 4 4 0:19 0 0 0:56 0 1   0 1
73 Brett Bellemore 16:26 2 4 0:00 0 0 0:56 0 1   0 1
30 Cam Ward   11 15   4 0   1 2   1 1

Best EV Forwards: Patrick Dwyer, Nathan Gerbe & Jordan Staal +3

Worst EV Forwards: Riley Nash & Jiri Tlusty -7

Best EV Defenseman: Ron Hainsey EVEN

Worst EV Defenseman: Jay Harrison -3

Jordan Staal showed up to play against his former team as his line was easily Carolina's best forward group, producing over half of the team's chances at even strength. Muller has been burying this line in the defensive zone early on and they are still managing to outshooot and outchance the opposition despite that, which is extremely impressive. I'm not sure how many points Staal will end up with Muller keeps doing this, but anyone paying attention knows that he has looked very strong this year and is contributing in ways that don't show up on the scoresheet. There's a reason why Muller has been giving him so much ice time at even strength. Nathan Gerbe also had another solid game, scoring a goal and producing five shots. 

The other goal-scorer, Eric Staal, had his best game of the season and he looked more like the Eric Staal wer'e used to seeing. He was creating more chances, winning battles along the boards and doing a much better job of controlling the play than he was in the first two games. Both the Red Wings & the Flyers seemed to have him neutralized but he was much more of a factor last night and this was with his linemates having sub-par games.

Speaking of which, Jiri Tlusty was bumped off the first line in favor of Drayson Bowman for a few shifts. This resulted in the Canes scoring a goal and outchancing the Pens when Bowman was on the ice, albeit in very limited ice time. It will be interesting to see if this continues because Tlusty has had a rough start to the year and ended up with a brutal chance differential at evens in this game. Although, most of the damage he took came during that one shift in the third period where him, Riley Nash & Radek Dvorak were out against Crosby's line and gave up four chances. You combine that with him producing no offense and it's a pretty rough night all around.

Andrej Sekera and Justin Faulk were also on the ice for that flurry of chances by Crosby's line and they were matched up against him for the majority of the night. If you take away that shift, these two had a pretty stellar night but you can't do that, so they ended up on the wrong side of the ledger here. That said, I thought both looked very good and did a decent job against Crosby aside from one shift. Ron Hainsey was the only defenseman to come away with a non-negative chance differential.

Penguins Scoring Chances

# Player EV PP Sh 4v4
2 Matt Niskanen 18:36 6 6 1:57 0 0 0:00 0 0   0 0
3 Olli Maatta 14:09 6 0 1:08 1 0 0:41 0 0   0 0
4 Rob Scuderi 18:57 7 7 0:00 0 0 1:35 0 3   0 1
7 Paul Martin 19:37 2 4 2:32 1 0 2:25 0 1   1 0
9 Pascal Dupuis  18:40 7 4 0:00 0 0 0:54 0 0   0 1
12 Chuck Kobasew 11:51 2 4 0:00 0 0 0:00 0 3   0 0
14 Chris Kunitz 15:02 6 3 2:32 1 0 0:00 0 0   1 0
15 Tanner Glass 8:14 2 2 0:00 0 0 1:29 0 4   0 0
16 Brandon Sutter 11:05 1 4 0:54 1 0 1:39 0 0   0 0
17 Dustin Jeffrey 10:56 1 3 0:48 0 0 0:32 0 0   0 0
19 Beau Bennett 14:37 5 1 1:00 1 0 0:00 0 0   0 0
27 Craig Adams 7:05 2 3 0:00 0 0 2:34 0 1   0 0
36 Jussi Jokinen 14:21 5 2 2:03 2 0 0:00 0 0   0 0
41 Robert Bortuzzo 12:58 7 1 0:12 1 0 0:54 0 3   0 0
44 Brooks Orpik  20:37 2 4 0:00 0 0 2:25 0 1   1 1
46 Joe Vitale 7:58 3 3 0:00 0 0 0:52 0 0   0 0
71 Evgeni Malkin 15:51 5 1 2:52 1 0 0:00 0 0   0 1
87 Sidney Crosby 16:36 6 3 2:52 1 0 0:00 0 0   1 0
29 Marc-Andre Fleury   14 11   2 0   0 4   1 1

Pittsburgh had a pretty balance attack by the scoresheet, but their first two lines are what did most of the damage. Malkin's line in particular crushed the Hurricanes at even strength and their third defense pairing really dominated Carolina's depth forwards.

Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five

There are some things to like about this chart. For one, Jordan Staal's line was able to outchance Crosby's, but that was negated by him losing the battle against Malkin's line, whom they were matched up against. Eric Staal didn't get crushed too badly by Crosby's line, which was his main matchup, but Bylsma used the last change to his favor and got Crosby out against players like Nash & Dvorak, who were completely out of their league with that assignment. Faulk & Sekera also got beaten up by Pittsburgh's top-six and made up for it against their weaker forwards. Then there's Hainsey, who appeared to have a good night by scoring chances while matched up against Malkin but the head-to-head view reveals a different story. Basically, Pittsburgh had an answer for everything Carolina threw at them.

5v5 Zone Entries

Hurricanes

Player # of entries Shots generated Carry-ins Shots generated Dump-ins Shots generated Failed Entries
Sekera 2 1 1 0 1 1 0
Murphy 2 3 2 3 0 0 2
J. Staal 8 4 5 4 3 0 0
E. Staal 6 5 6 5 0 0 2
Gerbe 4 2 2 2 2 0 1
Lindholm 1 1 0 0 1 1 0
Dvorak 2 0 0 0 2 0 0
Tlusty 5 3 3 2 2 1 1
Nash 5 0 2 0 3 0 0
Bowman 3 0 0 0 3 0 0
Faulk 4 2 2 2 2 0 0
Semin 2 1 1 1 1 0 0
Dwyer 1 2 0 0 1 2 1
Sutter 2 0 1 0 1 0 2
Harrison 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Skinner 5 3 3 1 2 2 1
Hainsey 4 3 0 0 4 3 0
Bellemore 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
Team 57 30 28 20 29 10 5

The Canes got some more traction in the neutral zone in this game and were generating more shots off rushes rather than dump-ins. It resulted in them having a stronger performance in terms of shots but most of them were either blocked or came from too far of a distance to really challenge Marc-Andre Fleury. It's why most of their chances either came from rebounds or tip plays in front of the net. Pittsburgh is a team that will give you absolutely nothing in the slot, so the Canes were better off trying to set up plays in front of the net after they entered the zone and they did an okay job with it. Or at least some of the team did.

The Staal brothers accounted for a little under half of the team's carry-ins and the Canes were producing more shots from their entries than anyone else. Although, Ryan Murphy also had an impressive game in the neutral zone and gave the Canes a glimpse of what he might be able to do in the future.

Penguins

Player # of entries Shots generated Carry-ins Shots generated Dump-ins Shots generated Failed Entries
Niskanen 5 2 0 0 5 2 0
Maatta 4 1 0 0 4 1 0
Scuderi 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Martin 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
Dupuis 5 2 4 2 1 0 1
Kobasew 5 2 4 2 1 0 0
Kunitz 4 1 1 1 3 0 0
Glass 2 1 0 0 2 1 0
Sutter 3 0 1 0 2 0 0
Jeffrey 2 0 1 0 1 0 0
Bennett 3 1 1 0 2 1 0
Adams 4 2 3 2 1 0 0
Jokinen 4 2 3 2 1 0 1
Bortuzzo 2 1 1 1 1 0 0
Orpik 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
Vitale 1 1 1 1 0 0 1
Malkin 5 6 5 6 0 0 1
Crosby 9 3 6 3 3 0 2
Team 60 25 31 20 29 5 6

Pittsburgh had control of a little over half of their entries but produced fewer than .5 shots per entry during 5v5 play. How did they end up outplaying the Canes at even strength? One word, face-offs. Carolina was dominated in the face-off circle (38%) and the Pens made them pay for it by producing 15 unblocked shots on 21 offensive zone draws. Brett Sutter, Riley Nash & Jordan Staal all had rough nights in that department.

Also, Evgeni Malkin is pretty good at this hockey thing.

5v5 Zone Exits

Hurricanes

# Player Pos. Touches Carry Pass Other Turnover Icing
4 Andrej Sekera D 22 1 4 0 4 0
7 Ryan Murphy D 14 2 3 1 1 1
11 Jordan Staal C 7 0 2 1 1 0
12 Eric Staal C 5 1 1 0 0 0
14 Nathan Gerbe LW 9 2 4 0 0 0
16 Elias Lindholm C 6 0 0 0 0 0
18 Radek Dvorak RW 7 1 3 0 2 0
19 Jiri Tlusty LW 5 2 1 0 0 0
20 Riley Nash C 4 2 0 0 0 0
21 Drayson Bowman RW 6 2 1 0 0 1
27 Justin Faulk D 27 3 7 1 1 0
28 Alexander Semin RW 7 3 1 0 0 1
39 Patrick Dwyer RW 5 1 0 0 2 0
42 Brett Sutter LW 4 1 0 0 0 0
44 Jay Harrison D 17 0 0 1 2 0
53 Jeff Skinner LW 7 2 1 0 0 0
65 Ron Hainsey D 15 1 0 1 2 2
73 Brett Bellemore D 14 1 2 0 0 0

This was easily Justin Faulk's most impressive performance of the season thus far in terms of zone exits. On 27 touches, he was able to advance the play about 40% of the time, which is pretty phenomenal for a defenseman who handles the puck that much. Sekera was also get the play moving forward but he also turned it over a lot. Murphy has also been solid at zone exits with limted touches and it's almost made for Harrison's very poor numbers in this regard.

Penguins

# Player Pos. Touches Carry Pass Other Turnover Icing
2 Matt Niskanen D 25 1 5 2 0 0
3 Olli Maatta D 19 0 4 1 2 0
4 Rob Scuderi D 13 0 3 1 2 0
7 Paul Martin D 15 0 0 0 2 2
9 Pascal Dupuis L 5 1 0 0 0 0
12 Chuck Kobasew R 5 2 0 0 0 1
14 Chris Kunitz L 13 1 6 0 1 1
15 Tanner Glass L 1 0 0 0 1 0
16 Brandon Sutter C 5 2 1 0 1 0
17 Dustin Jeffrey C 4 1 1 0 0 0
19 Beau Bennett R 4 0 0 0 0 0
27 Craig Adams R 7 1 1 0 0 0
36 Jussi Jokinen L 10 1 2 0 0 0
41 Robert Bortuzzo D 15 1 3 0 1 3
44 Brooks Orpik D 18 1 2 0 3 0
46 Joe Vitale C 4 0 2 0 1 0
71 Evgeni Malkin C 8 2 1 0 0 0
87 Sidney Crosby C 9 0 2 0 1 0

In my previous study on zone exits, Rob Scuderi has consistently been one of the worst defensemen in the league at leading breakouts during five-on-five play. Last night, he was one of Pittsburgh's best defensemen in this regard and his partner, Matt Niskanen, was also very impressive. Scuderi didn't handle the puck that much, so his numbers are skewed but this was a pretty solid performance from him. I can't say the same about the Orpik/Martin pairing, though.

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