Losing to a team like the Edmonton Oilers at this time of the season would normally be something to panic over but for the Hurricanes, it was really just another game and another loss. This is a team that has lost seven of their last ten games and while the playoffs might have been in reach not too long ago, it's pretty obvious that this club doesn't belong in the conversation, even in a Eastern Conference. It's not just that they lost to the Oilers or that they were dominated by them, they actually played a decent game in some areas, it's just that we've seen this story 50 times before.
The Hurricanes will get a good performance out of 4-5 players (usually their top-six and two defensemen) and do enough to keep the score close for most of the game but lose for a number of reasons. They either get outplayed at even strength for most of the game, struggle to finish off the chances they do create, lose the special teams battle or get a couple of bounces that don't go in their favor. All of which usually end up costing them the game and a little of everything happened this afternoon against the Oilers.
As I said earlier, Carolina didn't play a terrible game and weren't "outplayed' by the Oilers, they just didn't do enough to solve goaltender Ben Scrivens, laid an egg on the power play and gave up a goal on the penalty kill in the third period, which ended up being the game-winner. I was a little underwhelmed with their performance because the Oilers are an even worst team at 5v5 than Carolina and the Hurricanes still managed to get outshot by them and didn't have that big of an advantage in scoring chances. Granted, it was a back-to-back, but I was expecting a performance more like their game against Buffalo where the Hurricanes managed to carry the play and not do their best to break even. "Underwhelming" has been the theme for the Hurricanes for the last couple of years, though.
Fenwick Timeline from Extra Skater
Fairly even game and the Hurricanes had a slight edge in scoring chances at even strength, but special teams were the deciding factor. The Hurricanes failed to create a scoring chance in six minutes of power play time while giving up one to Edmonton during that time. The Oilers power play was just as ineffective until Justin Schultz scored in the third period to give them a 2-1 lead and that was all they needed. Scrivens was playing well enough for the Oilers to lean on him a little and the Hurricanes weren't exactly performing a blitzkrieg on him. Sixteen scoring chances in a game is nothing to sneeze at, but it's not enough for me to say that goaltending was the difference because Anton Khudobin was just as good and the Oilers did a decent job of clearing rebounds to make sure the Hurricanes didn't have many second & third chance opportunities.
Another problem with the Hurricanes offense is that one line was creating the majority of their chances, which has been a common theme for most of the year.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Hurricanes On-Ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Jordan Staal +6
Worst EV Forwards: Patrick Dwyer & Andrei Loktionov -3
Best EV Defensemen: Andrej Sekera, Ryan Murphy & Ron Hainsey +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Brett Bellemore -3
The Hurricanes let a great performance by Jordan Staal go to waste and it's a shame because he has been playing some excellent hockey as of late. His line with Alex Semin & Nathan Gerbe was responsible for about half of the Hurricanes scoring chances and Jordan himself had seven of them. Kirk Muller also put the Staal brothers on the same line more often than usual and you can see that both Eric (and Gerbe) benefited from this switch. Outside of these four and Riley Nash, it was a quiet game for the Hurricanes forward corps.
This is another instance where I don't agree with the numbers because even though Ryan Murphy was a positive player in shot differential & scoring chances, I thought he had a pretty rough game. Sure, his breakouts are nice and he does well in the offensive zone, but he also got burned quite a few times and lost a puck battle against Matt Hendricks that indirectly led to the Oilers first goal. The goal may have been an unlucky bounce, but it was a poor job by Murphy all-around and Harrison's positioning on Anton Lander in the slot was questionable at best. I was surprised at how much ice time Murphy was getting in the third period but I Muller isn't afraid to unleash him when the team is trying to come back.
One positive is that Faulk & Sekera were quietly very good and had a nice bounce-back performance after a tough game in Boston. They generally do well when they aren't noticed.
Oilers Individual Scoring Chances
Oilers On-ice Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Ryan Nugent Hopkins & Jordna Eberle +2
Worst EV Forwards: Matt Hendricks, Boyd Gordon & Anton Lander -4
Best EV Defenseman: Jeff Petry EVEN
Worst EV Defensemen: Justin Schultz, Martin Marincin & Oscar Klefbom -2
The Oilers are a little similar to the Hurricanes in that they're a top-heavy team and that's easy to see here with how many total scoring chances their first line & top defense pairing was on the ice for. Personally, I thought Hall had an excellent game despite being on the ice for six scoring chances and the Hurricanes had a lot of trouble keeping him under wraps. They also had a tough time defending David Perron, who was causing a lot of trouble in front of the net and had the primary helper on Schultz's game winning goal. Their second line also played very well with Jordan Eberle creating four scoring chances.
Oddly enough, the OIlers one 5v5 goal came from their third line, who were all well in the red in scoring chances, so they ended up getting slightly more from their depth than the Hurricanes. I also thought Hendricks played really well despite spending a lot of time in his own end. He was a big reason why the Oilers penalty kill was perfect on the afternoon., as he had a couple of key blocks while the Canes were on the power play. Boyd Gordon also played a big part in this with a few key clears.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
The forward matchups had Jordan's line up against Sam Gagner & Taylor Hall while Eric's line was up against RNH & Eberle. Muller also tried to get Sekera & Faulk on the ice whenever Taylor Hall came over the boards. Carolina managed to come out well against the Gagner line but had mixed results against Nugent-Hopkins. Gagner's line did most of their damage away from Jordan while RNH came out positive against Eric Staal's line. They made up some of the difference against the Oilers third line, though.
5v5 Zone Entries
|# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
The scouting report on the OIlers is usually that they are a fast, skilled team with a weak defense, so the Hurrianes tried to wear down their defense by playing some dump-and-chase. This isn't a team you want to get in a track meet with, but playing dump-and-chase didn't produce many results for Carolina. As usual, Jordan's line was the only one doing anything with the puck after they got it deep and that line was much better off carrying the puck in anyway. Semin & Jordan were the key players for Carolina in the neutral zone yet again with Skinner also having a decent showing. Drayson Bowman also managed to show some life here in limited minutes.
|Player||# of entries||Shots generated||Carry-ins||Shots generated||Dump-ins||Shots generated||Failed Entries|
If Carolina had any attempts of throwing the Oilers off their game, they sure failed miserably at it because the Oilers had control fo the puck on nearly 65% of their entries. Every forward aside from Lander & Gazdic had at least one carry-in and Taylor Hall had a huge game with 10 controlled entries. The Hurricanes avoided getting crushed in the territorial game because they had more overall entries, but this team has been terrible at closing gaps in the neutral zone since the Olympic break and it's a big reason why their season has gone down the drain.
5v5 Zone Entries
The Oilers scouted Ryan Murphy well because they were on him the second he touched the puck in the defensive zone and made it very difficult for him to get a breakout going. The Canes adjusted to this by utilizing the weakside defensemen (Harrison & Sekera) and they had a clear lane out of the zone. It's why Harrison & Sekera's numbers look so strong here. Sekera's usually a very good player at zone exits, but he was a lot more efficient than usual this afternoon. Faulk also had no trouble leading breakouts.
The Oilers defense corps aren't exactly adept at moving the puck at showed this afternoon with Jeff Petry having their highest zone exit percentage. That said, the play of their forwards made for this as most of them were able to get the puck out of their own zone. Taylor Hall really excelled in this area and so did David Perron. This also helped their game in the neutral zone, as most of their forwards were able to get through the Hurricanes forecheck and into the right side of the ice.