This article on Alex Semin posted today seems a little ironic now because the theme of process vs. results perfectly describes the Hurricanes 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. There wasn't much to complain about with the Hurricanes effort or compete level and they didn't leave anything on the ice either. They fired a whopping 97 shots at the net and force Ben Bishop to make 48 saves, beating him three times. On most nights, that would be enough to win and three goals has gotten the Hurricanes plenty of wins this year. Just not last night and the reason for this is a theme that we are all too familiar with, mistakes leading to goals.
Carolina fell into a three goal hole at the end of the first period despite "outshooting" Tampa Bay 38-10 and Bishop was a big reason for that. However, Carolina eventually solved the towering Lightning netminder and did a lot of good things in order to try to win. The mistakes they made early in the game just made it too deep of a hole to climb out of. If Andrej Sekera's stick doesn't break and Patrick Dwyer doesn't vacant his position to go to the bench, leaving the back-door open for Mark Barberio to score his first NHL goal, then this could have been a different game. Same goes for if Sknner converted on his tip-chance early in the first period or if Nathan Gerbe had his stick on the ice to break up a pass that set-up Ondrej Palat's goal which made it 2-0.
Everyone is tired of hearing this story after last season (and it really only applies to maybe two or three games this year), but it was a game where the Lightning made the most of their chances while the Hurricanes did not. Again, Bishop was the primary reason for that, if only because of the massive volume of chances he had to get in the way of. Score effects also played a role here, but Carolina was in control of this game for most of the first period and fell behind on the scoreboard after giving Tampa Bay an early power play. They still came back and fell up short but they kind of dug their own graves with the mistakes they were making in their own zone.
There's a lot of good to take out of this game, but moral victories don't mean much when you are chasing down a playoff spot.
Fenwick Timeline from Extra Skater
Score effects made the final shot count really extreme (Tampa Bay had a total of five unblocked shot attempts for the entire third period), but Carolina wasn't exactly getting throttled when the score was tied. They came out with a lot of jump, pinned Tampa Bay into their own zone and had three unanswered scoring chances within the first five minutes. It stinks that they didn't convert on them and the fact that they gave up four unanswered goals before finally getting on the board made it hurt even more.
The team has shown more of a commitment to defensive play this year, but they got a little over-aggressive at times (see Sekera stepping up in the neutral zone on the Palat goal) and made brutal mental mistakes (Dwyer not clearing a puck) and got burned by them. I suppose that's the risk you take by playing a goalie who hasn't played in nearly a month, but Peters had been playing at a high level prior to Khudobin's return, so it was disappointing that he couldn't come up with a big save to bail out his teammates. That said, he didn't have much of a chance on any of the three goals he gave up so I have a hard time putting all the blame on him.
This was very, very close to being a repeat of the Montreal game, except the Lightning didn't play like idiots and hand the Canes nine consecutive power plays. That and Bishop was much more difficult to solve than Carey Price was that night.
The usual case when Carolina and Tampa Bay get together is for Tampa Bay to get heavily outshot but stay close in the chance count because they are very good at exploiting the flaws of Carolina's defense and making the most of their opportunities. This was sort of the case last night, as half of the shots on goal they created were scoring chances but Carolina still ran away with the overall count. Bishop really had his limits tested and came up big when the Lightning needed him to. At least the Canes didn't get shut out this time.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Hurricanes On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Jeff Skinner +6
Worst EV Forward: Radek Dvorak -1
Best EV Defensemen: John-Michael Liles & Ron Hainsey +6
Worst EV Defenseman: Justin Faulk -3
Faulk & Sekera took most of the damage at even strength and they had a nightmare of a first period, being caught on the ice for all three of Tampa Bay's goals. They weren't individual at fault for them, everyone on the ice screwed up, but Sekera making an aggressive play in the neutral zone allowed Tampa Bay to get an odd-man rush on Palat's goal and Nikita Kucherov's goal probably doesn't happen if Faulk didn't lose a battle with Ryan Malone to keep the play alive. When you play as many minutes and are as relied on as these two, mistakes and bad nights are going to happen. Last night was especially awful.
The good news? The rest of the defense corps played pretty well. I saw a lot of people complaining about Bellemore & Murphy being scratched in a back-to-back and while I would rather have them in the lineup, the third pairing was not the problem last night. Harrison & Komisarek did a fine job in sheltered minutes and Liles/Hainsey did an excellent job on the second pair. They were on the ice for zero scoring chances while being matched up against the Lightning's top line and gave the Hurricanes a modest boost in the third period while they were pressing for offense. Liles hasn't made much of an impact in terms of points, but he's done a nice job of making smart pinches and helping the Canes maintain possession of the puck in the offensive zone.
Jeff Skinner walked away from this game empty-handed, but he could have easily had at least one goal by the end of the night. He was a spark plug in the offensive zone, creating 14 shot attempts, and produced a hefty amount of the Canes offense last night. His line with Elias Lindholm & Tuomo Ruutu (who was inexplicably benched for the third period) played at level they were capable of and were a big part of the Canes attack in the first period. It's just too bad they didn't see any reward for it because I thought they were the Canes best line.
A bit of a frustrating stat is that Jordan Staal's line was on the ice for only three of Tampa Bay's scoring chances and two of them ended up being goals. They weren't exactly innocent on these plays, as Gerbe failed to get his stick in the passing lane on Palat's goal and Dwyer failed to clear the puck on the Kucherov goal. Still, they contributed to the offense to try to make up for it and looked a little better than they did in some recent games. I still don't see this line producing a lot of goals while Dwyer is the one taking most of the shots, though.
In other news, Alex Semin had another awesome performance and scored his third goal in two games. Here's hoping that continues.
Lightning Individual Scoring Chances
|Martin St. Louis||0||0||0||2|
Lightning On-Ice Scoring Chances
|26||Martin St. Louis||18:40||5||6||1:48||0||0||1:51||0||0|
Best EV Forward: Tyler Johnson +3
Worst EV Forwards: Nate Thompson & JT Brown -7
Best EV Defenseman: Mark Barberio EVEN
Worst EV Defenseman: Radko Gudas -6
Tampa Bay was crushed territorially and in scoring chances, so they didn't have many player who ended up in the black here. Tyler Johnson was one of the few and he played an important role in the Palat goal, making the initial pass in the neutral zone. The guy who finished the play also had a very good performance and a three-point night to show for it. Mike Barberio was also very impressive from my view-point. He made a lot of good decisions out of his own zone and showed some solid offensive instincts to boot.
Barberio was their only defenseman not to have a negative scoring chance differential as most of the Tampa Bay defense struggled to keep the play out of their own zone. Matt Carle & Radko Gudas took some damage in their own end and the Canes also got to JP Cote whenever he was on the ice.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
Killorn-Filppula-Purcell can be a dangerous line when they are on and the Canes managed to effectively shut them down last night. Johnson's line and Bishop playing out of his mind made this not much of a factor, but the effort Carolina displayed here shouldn't be overlooked. The only disappointing part is that Faulk/Sekera lost the battle against Tampa Bay's first line and three of the chances they were on the ice for ended up in the back of their net.
5v5 Zone Entries
|# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
This was easily Tlusty's most impressive game in the neutral zone all season. He's usually someone who dumps the puck in every chance he gets, but he was a lot more creative last night and really helped contribute to the offense instead of being a passenger on the first line. Semin also did his fair share of the work in this area. Skinner also had an impressive game and Sekera did his best to make up for his mistakes with a decent offensive performance in the neutral zone. The downside to this is how much Dwyer was relied on for zone entries and how often he resorted to simply dumping the puck in. It didn't lead to much offense and really hampered the second line.
|Player||# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
Being able to carry the puck in more often than your opponent usually leads to teams winning the possession battle, but that kind of goes out the window when you have 25 fewer entries. That said, Tampa Bay being able to carry the puck in frequently did allow them to expose some holes in Carolina's defense. Palat & Johnson did a great job at this.
Zone exits weren't much of a problem for the Canes and even some of their worst puck-movers (Komisarek & Harrison) had pretty solid nights overall. They weren't exactly relied on for it (and they shouldn't be), but they weren't complete disasters whenever they had to advance the play on their own. The forwards also did a solid job at moving the puck in the right direction.
|26||Martin St. Louis||R||10||1||3||0||0||0|
Tampa Bay spent a lot of time in their own zone and as a result, they had a few guys with a lot of touches and a couple of player who really struggled at getting the puck out. Brewer, Aulie, Carle and Salo being the primary culprits here. Brewer was especially bad by the eye-test, often sending the puck into open spaces hoping one of his teammates would retrieve it before the Hurricanes. Needless to say, it didn't work out well despite the final score. However, this is one of the areas where Barberio shined.