This will be one of those games that most will point to as an example of why Corsi, Fenwick and other shot based stats are meaningless because the Hurricanes were blown out despite outshooting Anaheim 52-34 and having a big advantage in possession. Those who only take numbers at face value might feel that way, but anyone who watched the game (or followed the boxscore even) would agree that the shot totals were pretty indicative of how the flow of the game went. Yes, Carolina dug themselves into a 5-0 hole in the second period and the Ducks were essentially on cruise control for the rest of the night, resulting in the Canes piling up a lot of shots and making the score somewhat close at the end.
These are called score effects and Carolina has been involved in a few of these games over the last couple of years. They've also been in a lot of games where they fell behind early and allowed one mistake to snowball into three or four more, which is what we saw against Anaheim. The Canes actually had an okay start in terms of being able to create chances and they were able to test Anaheim goaltender Frederik Andersen a couple times early in the game. He came up with the saves and bailed his defense out. At the other end, Cam Ward wasn't as sharp and the team in front of him didn't help him out at all.
This is illustrated well on the Ducks first goal of the game where they took advantage of the Hurricanes defense in a vulnerable position after Brett Bellemore broke his skate blade after blocking a shot and left his partner, Andrej Sekera, on an island in front of the net. This left plenty of room for Corey Perry to swipe in a loose puck at the side of the net. A situation that could have been avoided if the Canes played more aggressive defensively but a tough break nonetheless. This was followed by Ward letting in a soft goal to Francois Beauchemin and Jay Harrison leaving him completely out to dry two minutes later on Perry's second tally of the game.
When you are in the middle of a losing streak, mistakes seem to come in bunches and it's hard to dig yourself out when you're a fragile team like the Canes. There's always hope that a new game will bring a fresh start, but this team always seems to be on the wrong side of the coin and they can never seem to sort things out once things go awry and it doesn't matter how well they start a game. By the time they do establish some confidence, it's too late and their opponents basically have the game locked up at that point like the Ducks did tonight. It's depressing but it's the reality we're at now.
A 52-shot performance without a win is impressive and encouraging in October. In March when you're desperate for a win? Not so much.
Fenwick Timeline from Extra Skater
In a typical score effects-ridden game, you'll see a team give up a lot of shots but not many chances. This wasn't the case for the Ducks because Andersen was under siege for most of the third period. It's not that the Canes were skating circles around Anaheim, the Ducks just let them crash the net with ease and create a lot of chances from in tight. Carolina wasn't very imaginative with their approach and ended up only beating him three times, but the game was a lost cause at this point and all they were trying to do was build confidence. They got two goals out of it, so I guess it worked. It's just too bad that it was all a wasted effort because of their mistakes in the first 40 minutes.
Speaking of which, the Canes power play was an embarrassment. It's one thing to not score on six tries, but to give up as many chances as you create is just pitiful. Anaheim did next to nothing at even strength during the second period and the Canes putrid special teams play allowed the Ducks offense to come to life. The personnel choices on the power play were also terrible but I'll get into those later.
The rain comes down hard during a losing streak and it's pretty much a monsoon in Carolina right now. They'll have periods where they control the play but not get rewarded (see early in the first period) while the opposing team will respond and make them pay on the scoresheet like the Ducks did last night. That compounded with the stagnant power play makes it hard to believe this team can make any progress with the way they are constructed now. It's hard to figure out a solution, though.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Hurricanes On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Nathan Gerbe +7
Worst EV Forwards: Drayson Bowmawn, Tuomo Ruutu & Mannny Malhotra +1
Best EV Defenseman: John-Michael Liles +16
Worst EV Defenseman: Andrej Sekera -1
Score effects led to everyone having a "good night" by the numbers at even strength and the quintet of Gerbe, Nash, Dwyer, Liles & Hainsey got their numbers boosted from a shift where they created five chances before finally solving Andersen. That said, I thought the bottom-six had a decent night relative to expectations, as Nash's line helped create two of the Hurricanes goals. The new second line of Jordan Staal, Alex Semin & Jiri Tlusty also did a good job of producing chances and were doing an excellent job of getting in Andersen's face. Although, the Ducks "defense" made it easy for them to do so.
It's hard to fault any of the forwards for the loss, as most of the goal-causing errors were on the defensemen or the goaltender. Jay Harrison in particular had a rough night in this regard, getting caught on the ice for three Anaheim goals including Andrew Cogliano's shorthanded tally where the University of Michigan grad left him in the dust. Speaking of which, why in the world is Harrison being used on the power play to begin with? I know that they have a void to fill with Faulk leaving the game, but wouldn't Ron Hainsey make more sense on the right point against a fast Ducks penalty kill? Just a thought.
John-Michael Liles' night sums up his tenure with the Hurricanes so far. He has been dynamite at even strength and was a big part of the Canes second goal, but he has not helped the power play at all. I don't know how much of it is him because this power play has stunk no matter who they try, but he hasn't had much of an impact there and was finally bumped off the first unit in favor of Andrej Sekera. Liles does a lot good that goes unnoticed, so it's unfortunate that was only his second assist of the year. It's also unfortunate that Sekera ended up a negative in chances because his effort on his goal in the second period was incredible and a one of the best displays of stick-handling you'll see from a defenseman this year.
Ducks Individual Scoring Chances
Ducks On-ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Dustin Penner +3
Worst EV Forward: Jakob Silfberberg -10
Best EV Defenseman: Hampus Lindholm +3
Worst EV Defensemen: Luca Sbisa & Ben Lovejoy -8
The Ducks top line had a big night at evens with Corey Perry recording three points and his linemates escaping most of the damage the rest of his team took in this area. The Ducks also went into shutdown mode for the last 30 minutes of the game, so their second line got a decent amount of ice time and were on for a lot of Carolina's scoring chances.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
The Ducks hard-matched Koivu's line against Eric Staal for most of the game and the Canes top line seemed to enjoy this matchup. They got into trouble when they went power-on-power against Getzlaf's line, which isn't too surprising. The Ducks first line is actually the only unit form Anaheim who won the majority of their matchups and they took full advantage of Sekrea playing with Bellemore on the shutdown pair as opposed to Justin Faulk.
5v5 Zone Entries
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The Ducks played a loose game while defending a lead and the Hurricanes were able to carry the puck in more than half the time due to that. The third line actually did a nice job with producing offense off their entries too, which is nice to see but matchups and score effects probably skew their results a little.
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It really annoys me how conservative this team is playing since the Olympic break. They've been drifting back at the blue line and allowing other teams to carry the puck in at will and this game was a new low. They are playing like they are too afraid to make a mistake and they usually end up giving their opponents too much respect and end up getting burned for it. Both of Corey Perry's goals are a fine example of that. Sure, the first one came off a bit of a fluky bounce but it could have been prevented if Bellemore & Sekera didn't give Perry & Penner 10-15 of open ice while they entered the zone. If you allow Perry & Getlzaf to gain the line with control 13 times in a game, you're kind of asking for trouble.
5v5 Zone Exits
Breakouts are one area where Liles has done well. Wish it translated to more than just possession, but he's done a fine job at getting the puck up the ice and helping the Hurricanes create more chances. Sekera also had a very good night in this regard and was relied on more with the injury to Faulk. harrison & Hainsey also saw some more work and weren't as successful.
Young Hampus Lindholm was the Ducks only defensemen to have a positive scoring chance differential and he was excellent at leading breakouts, as well. Beauchemin also had a decent night while the rest of their defense corps either struggled or wasn't relied on for much. The play of Getzlaf & Cogliano helped make up for this, though.