There are some games where you'll catch a team on an off-night and this was the case with the Hurricanes 3-1 win over the Rangers. After all, this is the same team that wiped the floor with the Hurricanes on Friday night and is much better than them in terms of skill and depth. You wouldn't know that from watching last night's game, though because the Hurricanes controlled the play for the majority of the game. Their strong forecheck forced the Rangers into some bad turnovers in the defensive zone and they were doing an excellent job of getting in Henrik Lundqvist's face to create chances. They didn't exactly run away with the game on the stat sheet, but the Canes did have the better of the play and were able to make the Rangers pay for a couple of defensive lapses to take home a win.
Most of this can be chalked up to the Rangers best players having an off-night, but I think the Hurricanes deserve some credit, too. They looked like a different team compared to Friday and continued doing a lot of good habits they started in New Jersey. We saw forwards entering the offensive zone with speed and backing off the Rangers defense, giving them room to set up plays and get a good forecheck going. It was much more effective than their usual strategy of getting the puck deep and trying to outwork the opposition along the boards. The Canes also did a great job of staying on the puck and pressuring the Rangers defense once they lost possession, which led to them creating a few opportunities off turnovers. This was a big reason why the Rangers top-six didn't do much and while they collectively had a bad night, the Hurricanes deserve some credit too.
Fenwick Timeline from Extra Skater
The chance report is a little misleading because it sure felt like the Hurricanes had control of this game. There were some moments in the second period where they had to weather a storm, though. That's when the Rangers were the most threatening and the Hurricanes were caught running around in their own end quite a few times. They managed to come out of that stretch with the lead after catching the Rangers second defense pairing on a bad pinch (made worse by Anton Stralman making a terrible play on Jordan Staal) and they finished the game strong. The third period is where the Hurricanes were easily the most impressive, as they were able to completely shut down the Rangers offense and didn't allow them to get any speed going through the neutral zone. They disrupted the Rangers breakouts by pressuring their defense and when they sat back, they cut off basically every passing lane and made it difficult for the Rangers to get any forecheck going. Their only goal came off a bad change by the Hurricanes and other than that, they were held in check for most of the night.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Hurricanes On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Alexander Semin +5
Worst EV Forward: Manny Malhotra -4
Best EV Defenseman: Ron Hainsey +4
Worst EV Defenseman: Mike Komisarek -4
What a night for the Hurricanes top-six. Jordan Staal's line swept the three stars ballot with a two-goal performance and they rightfully deserved it for their play in all three zones. This line has been building a lot of chemistry since they've been put together and it seems like the puck never leaves the offensive zone when they are on the ice. Or at least that's how it looked last night because they did an excellent job of tilting the ice in Carolina's favor. It's also nice to see Jordan's line finally convert on their chances too because that's been rare for him. Replacing Dwyer & Gerbe with some more creative linemates can do wonders, though.
The second line had the strongest game overall, but Eric Staal's line also had an impressive showing when it came to generating offense. These three got the easier assignments (softer zone starts & matched away from Stepan's line) and absolutely crushed these assignments on the shot clock and in the chance department. I was a little surprised at how many chances they actually generated because Jordan's line was much more noticeable, but this trio did produce a goal and managed to fire a total of 21 shots at the net. So they had a good night overall.
Also having a quiet but effective night was the pairing of Ron Hainsey & Brett Bellemore, who were positive in shot differential and wer eon the ice for only four Rangers scoring chances. This is made more impressive by the fact that they started only two draws in the offensive zone and were matched up against the Rangers top-six for most of the game. These two have managed to do this a lot of times this year and while they haven't seen much of a reward for it, they've been a pretty important part of the Canes defense.
Rangers Individual Scoring Chances
|Martin St. Louis||0||5||3||9|
Rangers On-ice Scoring Chances
|26||Martin St. Louis||16:01||2||5||2:41||2||1||1:21||0||1|
Best EV Forwards: Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard & Benoit Pouliot +3
Worst EV Forward: Derek Stepan -4
Best EV Defenseman: John Moore +1
Worst EV Defenseman: Ryan McDonagh -3
In Friday's loss, the Hurricanes first line collectively had an awful game and the roles were reversed last night as the Rangers top-six was held to only five scoring chances. Their third line had an excellent game and helped make up for the loss, but their top two lines were all held in check and Stepan's line got trapped on the ice for a lot of Carolina chances.
Also on teh ice for a lot of Carolina chances was the Rangers first defense pairing of Ryan McDonagh & Dan Girardi. They had the "worst night" in terms of scoring chance differential but their second pairing of Marc Staal & Anton Stralman was more noticeably bad. Marc Staal was victimized on the first Carolina goal after chasing Alex Semin with the puck and leaving Stralman to defend a two-on-one in front of the net. Staal was also caught deep on the Hurricanes second goal and got no help from Stralman, who made a terrible play on Jordan Staal to leave the front of the net unguarded. These two were also on the ice for Elias Lindholm's goal and while they had an okay night in scoring chances, their mistakes were costly.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
Carolina's top-six did as well with their matchups as you could ask for. Both Eric & Jordan's line saw time against Stepan & Richards' lines and each of them came away with a positive scoring chance differential. Jordan's line was especially good against Stepan and they did well against the Staal/Stralman pairing, too. The one thing that almost got Carolina into trouble was their depth or lack thereof. The fourth line took a lot of damage against Brassard and Nash's line was caught out against Stepan a few times, as well. Mike Komisarek was also exposed by the Rangers third line a number of times. It's a matchup that Muller ended up playing away from by simply not playing Komisarek for almost the entire third period.
5v5 Zone Entries
|# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
Carolina changed their strategy in the neutral zone by allowing their better puck-handlers to participate more and it had some pretty good results. Case in point, Semin was the main one entering the zone on the second line and they had a dominant night in scoring chances. Jiri Tlusty is usually the one doing most of the work here. It's also not a coincidence that the first line dumped the puck in a grand total of three times on 13 entries and ended up having a terrific night. I just don't know why the Hurricanes didn't start playing this style more until just now because it suits them more.
|Player||# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
|M. St. Louis||6||0||1||0||5||0||1|
Finally, the Hurricanes were able to shut the door in the neutral zone and force the Rangers to dump the puck in more than they would have liked. They had trouble containing their third line, but the rest of their forwards struggled to get much traction going and the Rangers needed to active their defense tog gain the line with control. After allowing teams to carry it in at will since the Olympic break, this is a refreshing change.
5v5 Zone Exits
Kind of a sub-par night for the Hurricanes defense with zone exits, but part of this is because they utilized the forwards to exit the zone more instead of going for home run passes through the neutral zone. This is probably a good adjustment because the latter hasn't been working for awhile now. You'd like to see more carry-outs from the defense, but I suppose that's asking a lot with Faulk & Liles out of the lineup.
|26||M. St. Louis||R||8||0||1||0||0||0|
The Rangers defense was also trying a lot of long passes to exit their zone and while they succeeded a few times, they also had a lot of attempts that failed. It didn't result in anything except their defense handling the puck more in their own zone, but it does show how good the Hurricanes were clogging the neutral zone in the third period and making it difficult for the Rangers to advance the play forward.