Every week, I’m going to look at how each player on the Hurricanes performed and give my thoughts on it. I’m going to be looking at both the boxcar stats and the underlying numbers for this feature to give an idea of what kind of situations the players were in. To help provide some context, I’m going to post a OZ/Corsi Rel QOC graph at the beginning to show how each player was used throughout up to a certain point in the season. If you don’t remember what that is, it’s a graph that plots the percentage of offensive zone starts a player had against his corsi relative to quality of competition rating to show what situations he was put in. We’re only looking at five games worth of data here so the results will be a little extreme but they should get the job done for what we’re doing here.
For this week, I will be looking at the first two “weeks’ of the year seeing how the Hurricanes season started on a Friday. So we’ll basically be looking at each player’s performance for the first five games, which is a pretty fair assessment if we’re doing a weekly evaluation. Let’s begin, shall we?
OZ/Corsi Rel QoC
The Canes haven’t been particularly great at outshooting teams and this proves it a bit. I’m sure some of the data is skewed from that Buffalo games, though.
Bryan Allen - He’s taken on a serious workload to start the year playing over 20 minutes a night against some really tough competition and has a scoring chance rating of only -1, second best among defenseman (Tomas Kaberle leads the way with +2 but he’s getting sheltered). He has also not been on-ice for only one goal against when playing 5-on-5. Solid week for one half of Carolina’s “shutdown pair.”
Jeff Skinner - Almost didn’t put him here but it’s hard not to when he has six points in five games. However, he’s been giving back a lot at the other end of the ice. Remember my post on defensive errors this season? Skinner had three in four games. He’s also been playing on Staal’s line, which means he’s had to take on tougher assignments than he did last year but Paul Maurice separated the two in the Buffalo game so maybe things are changing. His corsi has been decent when taking his workload into account but I wish some of his other underlying numbers were better. .446 scoring chance rate. Ouch.
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Two goals and he’s been a beast at driving possession (6.40 Corsi ON, .545 corsi percentage) despite only starting 34.3% of his shifts in the offensive zone. Both of his goals were only tip-ins but I like what Poni’s brought to this team for such a low cost. I am interested to see how long he lasts on the top line and how he will perform on Staal’s wing. He’s also done well at killing penalties when assigned that role. Keep it up, Poni.
Jussi Jokinen - One goal, three assists and he’s been one of the team’s top offensive contributors so far (+6 scoring chances, 6.44 Corsi ON) and that’s with some tough zone starts. He’s also been on ice for only one goal against at even strength. He’s also done some serious work on the powerplay with 17 chances for. Solid start to the year for him.
Jiri Tlusty - Yes, I’m serious. He has been quietly putting up good underlying numbers with 15 scoring chances for compared to only 8 against. I still think it’s due to him getting more time on the second line with Jokinen who seems to be in beast mode when it comes to creating chances. The bad part is that Tlusty is getting hammered at the other end of the ice when it comes to giving up shots and chances. I think he had a solid week compared to his expectations, though.
Tuomo Ruutu - Ugly, ugly start to the year for Ruutu. He’s been getting some tough zone starts (albeit against really weak competition) but Ruutu is not putting up offense in any way, shape or form right now despite getting top-six minutes. He’s only been on-ice for 14 chances for compared to 21 against and six goals against at even strength. To make things worse, take a look back at the defensive errors post I hyperlinked earlier and you’ll see that Ruutu leads the team with 5 goal causing errors. That was over the span of four games, too. Let’s hope he takes cue from his two countrymen and picks it up next week.
Eric Staal - The two PPG’s against Washington were nice but Staal is struggling to produce offense at even strength right now. Skinner’s actually been better at creating chances and being more of a factor on the ice than Staal so far when it comes to five-on-five play. Staal’s also been on-ice for a team leading 10 goals against. Ouch. The good news is that Staal is still killing it on the powerplay.
Cam Ward - Save percentage of .889 looks rough but two great showings against Buffalo and Boston avoids him from getting a negative mention here.
Tim Gleason - Was going to put him with Allen but Gleason’s struggled a bit when he hasn’t been paired with Allen so that could pose a problem later in the season. However, Gleason’s had a good start to the year and three points to boot. Was also on ice for only one goal against when playing five-on-five. One downside is that he’s been on-ice for 16 out of the 20 shorthanded chances Carolina’s given up this year.
Brandon Sutter - Sutter and Dwyer have done most of the heavy-lifting among the forwards when it comes to taking the defensive assignments and they have taken their share of lumps. However, Sutter’s done some excellent work on the penalty kill and recorded a shorthanded goal on Friday. He’s also won 61.4% of his face-offs.
Chad LaRose - He’s been creating offense when he’s been on the ice (.633 SC%) and was rewarded with a spot on the top line where he scored a goal last Monday. His time there didn’t last long but it should be noted that LaRose’s season is off to a solid start.
Joni Pitkanen - Scored a powerplay goal last Wednesday and is taking on tougher assignments than I thought he would this season. Unfortunately, it’s led to him giving up a lot of chances in his own end and seven goals.
Tim Brent - Getting hammered at even strength, hasn’t been helping out as much as I thought he would in the faceoff department but some great penalty killing prevents him from getting a negative rating.
Tomas Kaberle - Kaberle was brought in to help the powerplay and in my opinion, he’s done that so far with 13 chances created. He’s getting the softest ice-time among defensemen but he’s at least taking advantage of them. The points will come eventually. Wish he would play a little more at even strength, though because as of right now, he’s the team’s #5 defenseman with McBain in the lineup.
Justin Faulk - He didn’t play as bad as his -6 rating indicates but he definitely had some problems when it came to getting physical with bigger forwards. He also had some issues with net coverage and wasn’t providing enough offense, which is probably why he’s in the press box right now. How long before he sees the ice again? Hopefully soon whether it be in Raleigh or Charlotte.
Zac Dalpe - Played about five minutes per night and is out week-to-week. That’s about it.
Jay Harrison - Has seen some powerplay time lately and it’s come with some mixed results. He essentially “scored” a powerplay goal on Friday but he’s only been on-ice for five of the 22 PP chances created by the Canes and has had some big trouble with keeping the puck in. Aside from that, he’s been the same as last season. Not creating chances but not giving them up either but he’s giving up a lot of shots. Let’s see how his season goes.
Patrick Dwyer - Like Sutter, he’s been taking the bulk of defensive assignments but has broke even when it comes to Corsi. When you consider his 36.4 OZ%, that’s really impressive.
Anthony Stewart - Been solid on the fourth line and has a goal to show for it but his tenure on the second line in the Devils game ended in a disaster with zero chances created despite getting top six minutes. With how well Jokinen’s been playing this year, how is that even possible?
Jamie McBain - Rough night against Boston but a solid game against Buffalo. Tough to say much else.
Brian Boucher - Gave up four goals on 36 shots against Washington but only one of them was really his fault in my book.
Derek Joslin - Still waiting his first game.