No one likes overreacting or melodramatics, but the Hurricanes may have played their worst game of the season last night, taking a 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. Even on bad nights, the Hurricanes have had stretches where they looked somewhat competitive and into the game. There was none of this in Dallas. They were dominated from the opening whistle and looked thoroughly out of their league against the Stars. Some might write this off to them getting outplayed by a superior Western Conference team, but the fact that they got outplayed isn't the problem. They were flatout embarrassed and looked like a team that should be tanking for a lottery pick instead of fighting for a playoff spot.
No disrespect intended to the Stars, they are a very good team and were on a hot streak before the Olympic break. It's just that the Hurricanes are a team that's in a similar position to Dallas, on the cusp of making the playoffs, and you honestly wouldn't know it by watching both clubs. It was yet another case of the Hurricanes spending most of the game chasing their opponents instead of taking the play to them. The Stars are a team with plenty of speed, size and talent and the Hurricanes responded by sitting back and trying to contain them instead of getting a forecheck going and playing with the puck. Dallas has a lot of skill in their lineup, so it's easy to be intimidated by them, but playing a passive/careful game usually leads to more mistakes and we saw plenty of those tonight.
If you're going to play a passive game and give the opposing team a lot of respect in the neutral zone, then you sure as hell better buckle down in your own end. Justin Faulk & Patrick Dwyer both covering the middle of the ice and leaving Tyler Seguin wide open for the first goal was the exact opposite of that. It's also important to play a hard game against Dallas' skilled forwards and Jeff Skinner's pathetic defensive play on Brendan Dillon's shorthanded goal was a good example of what not to do in that situation. Justin Faulk & Andrej Sekera's abysmal play on Jamie Benn's shorthanded goal would be another example of that.
This wasn't a game where the Hurricanes "did some good things and lost because of a few mistakes." They were outplayed and completely dominated and were lucky that Dallas didn't beat them by a wider margin. If this is going to become the norm over the next month, then this season might as well be a lost cause, especially with Alex Semin injured. January is looking more and more like a mirage.
Team Fenwick from Extra Skater
The shot report is pretty misleading and not a good indicator of how this game went. Most of Carolina's chances were one-and-done and they could not sustain any forecheck at all. Dallas had the puck for about 75% of the game, won all of the battles and swarmed on Carolina's skaters once they entered the zone. To make things worse, the Canes had one of their worst performances on special teams in quite some time. Their penalty kill escaped without a blemish because of Anton Khudobin but their power play was guano on ice. They allowed two shorthanded goals and created one measly scoring chance while allowing four to Dallas in nearly 10 minutes of power play time. This team's power play has been terrible for most of the year, but this was a new low for them. If the Canes can somehow claw their way back into the race and just miss the playoffs, they can blame their pathetic power play and look to this showing as an example.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Hurricanes On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Eric Staal & Nathan Gerbe +2
Worst EV Forward: Jeff Skinner -6
Best EV Defensemen: John-Michael Liles & Ron Hainsey +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Andrej Sekera -5
Big ups to Eric Staal, Ron Hainsey and Elias Lindholm, who I thought were the only Carolina players to have decent/good performances last night. In a game showcasing two Top-10 picks, Lindholm failed to get on the scoresheet, but it wasn't for lack of trying. Muller put him on the top line after Alex Semin left the game and he actually made the most of it. He created a few chances, was really active around the net and looked much stronger on the puck than he has all year. Hopefully this is something that can carry over to the next game.
Although, this theory didn't exactly work for Jeff Skinner, who had a good night in Buffalo and an atrocious game in Dallas. Those who were clamoring for Skinner to be traded in the off-season are probably drooling at the mouth right now, because his play on the two Dallas shorthanded goals are exactly why he is seen as a defensive liability. Skinner is usually good about at least creating chances and being active offensively even when he isn't scoring. He was neither last night and it showed in a big way.
Also not scoring and not creating much offense was Jordan Staal, who was invisible for most of the game. Most of what Jordan does isn't seen by the casual fan, but he just seemed like a total non-factor last night and that's obviously not a good thing, especially when you get tagged with a -4 rating.
It's appropriate that Hainsey fought Antoine Roussel after the Dallas forward ran Anton Khudobin because he and Liles were the only Carolina defensemen to not have a terrible performance at even strength. Faulk/Sekera had one of the worst games I can remember from a Carolina defense pairing and Faulk made some glaring errors on the first and third Dallas goals. These two have appeared to hit a wall because they haven't exactly been great in the few games preceding the Olympics either.
Dallas Stars Individual Scoring Chances
Dallas Stars On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Shawn Horcoff, Ray Whitney & Jamie Benn +4
Worst EV Forward: Erik Cole -2
Best EV Defenseman: Trevor Daley +5
Worst EV Defensemen: Kevin Connauton & Jordie Benn EVEN
The Stars first line is one of the most dangerous int he league and they tore the Hurricanes apart last night, creating 10 scoring chances and creating 14 shot attempts. Also giving the Canes a lot of trouble was Alex Chiasson, who seemed to be around the net every chance he could get and was a big part of their power play. Dallas has enough forward depth to give any team fits but their defense is still kind of weak. That ended up being a non-factor last night because the Hurricanes could never get any forecheck going at even strength and the Stars dominated them on special teams.
Both Staal lines were outplayed by Seguin, Daley/Goligoski shut down the Hurricanes top-six and Shawn Horcoff's line won every matchup thrown their way. Carolina did some good work against the Eakin line, but that's pretty much the only positive from this disaster of a game.
5v5 Zone Entries
|# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
Eric Staal is becoming more of a player in the neutral zone and it's nice to see because the Hurricanes do more off his entries than they do from Tlusty or almost anyone else. Unfortunately, he was the only player who did anything in the neutral zone for the Canes. Half of their shot attempts off entries came from him while their usual other key players (Jordan & Skinner) were total non-factors.
|Player||# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
Dallas is a team that thrives of gaining speed in the neutral zone and the Hurricanes played right into their hands last night, allowing them to carry the puck in on nearly 60% of their entries. The Hurricanes showed them way too much respect by constantly backing up in the defensive zone every time they tried to carry the puck in and the Nichushkin-Seguin-Benn line enjoyed a lot of success from this. A couple of their other lines also joined the fun, but this line was Dallas' catalyst at even strength and is going to scare a lot of teams if the Stars make the playoffs. It's a little odd that Seguin didn't have any entries, though because I thought he was impressive and he is usually a stud in this area of the game. I guess there's only so many entries to go around when you play on a line with Benn & Nichushkin, though.
5v5 Zone Exits
John-Michael Liles has quietly been more of a contributor than people think. Solid at even strength both in shot differential and zone exits. Now, if he could only bring some life to the power play or start producing points then maybe people will notice….
No real standouts for the Stars in terms of zone exits, although Jordie Benn was relied on a lot here and he played a lot more minutes than I expected. Gonchar and Goligoski also had a smaller role than I anticipated since they are both solid puck-movers. Although, about half of this game was played at special teams so that probably had a role in their numbers here.