Carolina fans were treated to a few things they haven't seen in awhile last Wednesday night. Not only did the Hurricanes clinch their first season series win over the Flyers in what feels like an eternity, they also got to see one of the most complete performances this club has turned in all season. One of the Hurricanes biggest weaknesses this year has been their inability to control the play and dictate the flow of the game. Aside from a slight rough patch in the second period, none of these problems were evident in this game and the Canes looked like a much stronger team than they ever have this year.
It may have only been only a one-goal game, but the Canes did a lot of the things they need to be successful here. The first line had a big night with two goals while Jordan's line had a fantastic game at even strength, carrying the play whenever he was on the ice. In addition to that, the Canes depth lines also came through with Nathan Gerbe scoring a dazzling goal and the new "fourth line" of Ruutu, Nash & Dvorak creating a handful of chances at even strength. Every line did their part and it's what one of the reasons why the Canes were able to skate out of this one with a win, despite the close score. The final score may not indicate it, but this was arguably one of the best games the Canes have played all season.
Fenwick Timeline from Extra Skater
The Hurricanes came ready to play and really took it to the Flyers in the first period, having a big advantage in both shots and the territorial game. They got their reward for it with Alex Semin scoring on a rocket from the top of the faceoff circle and didn't let up after that. This sort of changed in the second period, as the Flyers began to mount some offense, but it didn't result in a lot and the Hurricanes were able to get a two-goal lead after Gerbe's stunning breakaway goal, which came after the Flyers were unable to keep the puck in at the Carolina blue-line. It was then that Carolina began to take their foot off the gas pedal and the Flyers made them pay for it with a late second period goal and an early power play tally in the third period.
It was disappointing to see the Hurricanes allow a two goal lead to slip away, but their play after that was very encouraging to say the least. The Canes completely dominated the third period and it paid off late in the game when Jiri Tlusty scored off a rebound after the Hurricanes hemmed the Flyers in for a good minute. The Hurricanes have lost their fare share of games due to some untimely errors and this one was very close from being in that category. Thankfully, that didn't happen and the Canes play in the third period is a big reason why. They were able to shut down almost everything the Flyers threw at them and turn it into offense of their own through good transitional play and outworking them along the boards. Very good effort all around.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Hurricanes On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Tuomo Ruutu +6
Worst EV Forward: Patrick Dwyer -2
Best EV Defenseman: Jay Harrison +6
Worst EV Defenseman: Ron Hainsey -2
Now playing on what is essentially the "fourth line," Tuomo Ruutu has to make the most of his ice time and he did just that on Wednesday night. He had a few very impressive shifts early in the game, winning battles along the boards, creating chances in close and following up on his own rebounds to keep the play alive. He looked more like the Ruutu that Canes fans have grown to love over the years and the type of player this team needs right now.
Speaking of rebounds, Tlusty did a fine job of being in the right place at the right time on his goal, cashing in on a big one for the game-winning goal. The first line saw some of their "magic" from last season work in this game, in the sense that they didn't dominate territorially or take many shots, but they were able to get on the scoresheet twice and make the most of their chances. They've been overdue for some puck luck.
Jordan Staal is also overdue in this category and will likely see more points come to him if his line drives the play as well as they did here. Breaking up his line with Gerbe & Dwyer may have been the best move for all three parties. Jordan gets to play with linemates that have more of a scoring upside and Gerbe gets some favorable matchups on the third line.
Flyers Individual Scoring Chances
Flyers On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Steve Downie +2
Worst EV Forward: Scott Hartnell -5
Best EV Defenseman: Kimmo Timonen +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Nicklas Grossman -6
Very impressive game defensively for the Hurricanes, holding the Flyers first line to only seven shot attempts and three scoring chances. It wasn't enough to keep Claude Giroux off the scoresheet (although Khudobin played a part in that with some bad puck-handling), but that line was held in check for most of the game. That said, they were still easily the Flyers best forward unit that night.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
The most surprising matchup win for Carolina was Harrison & Komisarek outchancing both Couturier & Brayden Schenn's lines by a healthy margin. Either one of those would have been a bad matchup for the Canes, but they managed to come out on top in both of those situations. Harrison & Komisarek had a couple of scary moments, but they did a pretty good job of recovering and getting back in position when they were beaten by some of the Flyers more skilled forwards. This is a pairing that can get eaten alive when they make a mistake and they managed to avoid that here.
5v5 Zone Entries
|# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
The usual strategy for the Canes against Philadelphia has been for them to dump the puck in and force their defense to make bad plays once they get it deep. That didn't change this game, but it wasn't as successful. Carolinas was much more successful when they were able to carry it in. Go figure.
|Player||# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
Voracek is a pretty active player. Could have easily been in double-digits in zone entries if the Canes didn't shut him down at the blue-line three times. Part of the reason why his line with Giroux & Raffl was kept under wraps for most of the game. The Flyers defense was also very active, with Streit & Coburn combining for five carry-ins.
5v5 Zone Exits
The turnovers are still a problem, but if Carolina's defense can continue to have nights like this, then I would be a happy camper. I'm sure Kirk Muller would be too.
This is why the Canes wanted to force the Flyers defense to handle the puck. Aside from Coburn and *gasp* Luke Schenn, their D had a very tough time at advancing the play and finding open forwards in the neutral zone. Streit's numbers here are pretty surprising because he is usually very good in this regard.