The Hurricanes are coming off a good month of January, winning 10 out of 14 games and playing some of their best hockey of the season. There's been a lot of good vibes to go around, but the four losses they took were all pretty brutal to watch. They were shutout three times and fell behind 4-0 in the other loss, so when the Canes did lose, it was ugly and discouraging. This trend carried into the month of February with them taking a 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, surrendering the game-winning goal in the last two minutes of the game.
Despite the collapse, this was far from Carolina's worst performance of the season and certainly played well enough to at least earn a point but therein lies the problem. Instead of taking over the game, Carolina was doing just enough to stay close enough to Winnipeg and it ended up burning them at the end. Not that they didn't have their chances, because they did, but the finish just wasn't there. They tested Pavelec plenty of times and made him work to make the first save, but the Jets beat them to the rebounds and any time they got a shot from close range, they either missed or fanned on it. Shot quality is a tired debate, but this was a game that the Canes could have done more, despite outshooting, outchancing and "outplaying" Winnipeg to an extent.
The team's passive style late in games has nearly burned the Hurricanes a couple times this year, so a loss like this seemed like it was just around the corner. It's just unfortunate that it had to happen at a critical point in the season. The back-to-back this weekend just became that much more important.
Fenwick Timeline from Extra Skater
Maybe the results are clouding the perception of the game just a little, because the Hurricanes played a good game from a possession & scoring chance standpoint. Even with a woeful power play, they outchanced Winnipeg by a wide margin and won the battle at even strength. Again, I said that they played well enough to earn a point but they still left a lot on the table. Ondrej Pavelec was giving up a lot of rebounds and the Hurricanes weren't taking advantage of them. They also came storming out of the gate in the first period, recording six unanswered chances but didn't carry that over into the second & third periods. They didn't have much sustained offense in the third period after Riley Nash tied the game at one and allowed the Jets to hang around for too long.
Had they finished their chances or continued to pressure the Jets for sixty minutes, then this could have been a different game. Manny Malhotra's failed clear and the Hurricanes dreadful shift near the end of the game isn't as costly and the Canes may have gotten at least a point out of this one. Alas, that didn't happen and the Canes ended up walking out of the building empty-handed.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Hurricanes On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Alex Semin +6
Worst EV Forward: Manny Malhotra -1
Best EV Defenseman: John-Michael Liles +8
Worst EV Defenseman: Justin Faulk -2
A good game by John-Michael Liles/Ron Hainsey defense pairing is blemished by them being on the ice for the game-winning goal. Neither were particularly at fault for it, as Malhotra had a chance to get the puck out but didn't, but all five Carolina players could have done a better job on this play.
Both Malhotra & Hainsey were caught watching Jake Trouba carrying the puck behind the net and failed to cover Chris Thorburn, the eventual goal-scorer, on the back-door and that's ultimately what led to the goal. Of course, Hainsey was scrambling all over the ice because Liles was parked in front of the net guarding Mark Schiefele and Nathan Gerbe failed to make a play on Trouba at the point, which allowed him to keep the play alive. Liles/Hainsey have had their struggles and it's unfortunate that they are going to be remembered for this play instead of the other positives they contributed.
The forward line on the ice for the goal, Gerbe-Malhotra-Dwyer, also had a couple of rough shifts and this hasn't been anything new. Since they were united, these three have often been Muller's "go-to" guys and it's led to the Canes getting outchanced late in games. It happened against Columbus & St. Louis and it was a similar story against Winnipeg. It makes sense to use Malhotra in the defensive zone for his faceoff prowess but I think he is being leaned on a bit too much. He's a fourth liner on a contending team and not suited to go up against the other team's best. Muller sending his line out against Andrew Ladd & Bryan Little for an offensive zone draw wasn't exactly a smart decision either.
The first line also had a good performance that went to waste and Semin was easily the team's best player. The puck seemed to find him all night in the offensive zone and he nearly set-up Tlusty for a goal in the first period. Unfortunately, Tlusty ended up missing wide. Skinner also had his chances and his line with Lindholm & Jordan Staal seemed to be the only line that was producing rebound chances. Lindholm & Skinner almost scored on one in the second period. "Almost" was the theme for the entire team, though.
Jets Individual Scoring Chances
Jets On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Andrew Ladd & Bryan Little +1
Worst EV Forward: Blake Wheeler -6
Best EV Defenseman: Adam Pardy +1
Worst EV Defenseman: Zach Bogosian -6
Bryan Little was the catalyst for most of the Jets offense last night, as his line with Michael Frolik & Andrew Ladd produced half of their scoring chances. Frolik made the key play getting the puck up the ice past Justin Faulk on the Jets first goal, though. This line helped Winnipeg stay in the game.
The guy who made the key play on the Jets game-winner, Trouba, had kind of a disastrous night outside of that goal. He was scrambling all over the place in the defensive zone and made numerous careless plays with the puck during the first period. Trouba was very lucky that he wasn't on the ice for at least one goal against, especially after he gave the puck away right next to the net where Carolina forward Patrick Dwyer was parked. The Jets top four defense all had their issues, though.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
The way Muller has played his matchups this year has been confusing and frustrating to say the least. At home, you'd think he would want Jordan or Eric Staal's line out against Winnipeg's Ladd, Little & Frolik. Instead of matching them up against Winnipeg's top line, he had them face Winnipeg's second & third lines while matching up Malhotra against Little. That was the only matchup Winnipeg won and it helped get them their first goal. Faulk/Sekera also struggled but the Canes third line isn't exactly equipped to be a shtudown unit. It makes even less sense to use them this way when you have Jordan Staal on the team.
5v5 Zone Entries
|# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
The third line and the defense corps dragged down Carolina's zone entry numbers, as they dumped the puck in all game and didn't produce much offense at all. Dwyer was relied on a lot in the neutral zone and his numbers kind of speak for themselves. This isn't too different form the role he played on the second line, but it's easier to drive possession on dump-and-chase when you have Jordan Staal as your center.
|Player||# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
A little under half of the Jets total zone entries were carry-ins and 13 of them were from the Ladd, Little, Frolik line. Not a surprise to see that most of the offense came from them, although Winnipeg's numbers off dump-ins weren't terrible.
5v5 Zone Exits
Carolina's overall numbers aren't bad, but the turnovers hurt them and one in particular ended up costing them the game.
Winnipeg was also rather careless with the puck (a lot more than Carolina, in fact) but the Canes couldn't make them pay for their turnovers. I mentioned that Trouba had a rough game earlier and that's reiterated here. He and Bogosian had to do a ton of heavy-lifting last night.