What do we make of the past week for the Carolina Hurricanes? They got their first win under Kirk Muller by defeating the Oilers in dominant fashion, but they also had two stinkers against Calgary and Winnipeg. I mean, they were only outscored 13-14 and outshot 92-97 so how bad could they have played? Well, the data is skewed a bit from that Oilers game because if you eliminate that, then the Canes were outshot and outscored by a much bigger margin. Also, their performance at even strength was a mixed bag. They controlled only 46.8% of the shots five-on-five but had the advantage in scoring chances by owning 52.5% of those, but I’m willing to bet that most of it is from the Oilers game and when they were playing catch-up to the Flames on Tuesday. Goaltending brought this team down for the second week in a row as Cam Ward was pulled twice and stopped only 86.5% of the shots he faced. Not even close to being “good enough.” It’s been a weakness for this team all year and it hasn’t been improving.
I breakdown the past week for the Canes after the jump
A modification I made to the chart this week was to color code the data points to indicate forwards (blue) and defensemen (red). The idea cames from Robert Vollman and his weekly Flames Black Box feature. Just a note, I kept Tomas Kaberle in here because he played two games for Carolina this week. Spacek’s data is also included but it’s mostly his stats from Montreal. It’ll be another few weeks before we can use his data in context here.
Anyway, the usage of the Canes plaeyrs has remained the same for the most part. Justin Faulk’s gotten some easier zone starts and so has Skinner but the overall distribution is the same. The biggest change I see is Tim Brent being used more in a defensive role, which plays to his strengths and makes more sense than sheltering him like Paul Maurice was doing. Although, Brent’s also been jumping between lines lately so that probably has something to do with it. Jamie McBain is also reaching Allen/Gleason territory with how much he’s been buried lately. I’m not sure why Kirk Muller is doing this though. The heavy-lifters remain Allen, Gleason, Dwyer, Sutter, LaRose and, to a lesser extent, Ponikarovsky, Jokinen, Pitkanen and McBain. The fact that so many players are getting buried with defensive zone starts should display how this team is getting outplayed on most nights.
Justin Faulk - All he needed was a little weight (and defensive zone starts) taken off his shoulders and he had his best week in awhile. He also scored his first NHL goal and recorded another assist on top of that. If that wasn’t enough, he was a +3 in corsi differential and a +6 in scoring chances. Him and Spacek were far and away the team’s best players in that 4-2 loss to Winnipeg and I’m hoping Faulk can gradually go back to playing shutdown minutes again. That time isn’t now but it might come soon.
Chad LaRose - Scored two goals, was a +3 in scoring chances, a +9 in corsi and fired 11 on goal (second only to Eric Staal). Strong rebound for him and he seems to be back on track after a rough week before.
Tomas Kaberle - Had four points in two games and looked more like the offensive presence on the blue-line that we signed this summer. Rutherford then “sold high” by sending him and his three year contract to Montreal. If you want to call two games “selling high” on a player then Rutherford did just that. We wish you the best, Kabs.
Timmy Brent - I have different expectations for certain players and my only expectations for Brent are for him to win faceoffs and not get killed at even strength. He went beyond his expectations the past week by scoring a goal, knotting an assist and by being a +4 in scoring chances. Wonder if the small promotion to the top line had anything to do with it? Oh, and he was also on ice for five powerplay chances. That may have been more than he had all season.
Cam Ward: See the opening paragraph. No, it’s not all his fault but he simply has not been good enough this season.
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Remember how I said Poni had consistency issues? He is usually one of the Hurricanes top players in terms of playing territorially but he was a -1 in that category this week. He also was one of three players to finish negative in scoring chances. The one assist didn’t help either.
Jamie McBain - The three points were nice but he was on ice for seven even strength goals against, was a -8 in scoring chances and had the worst corsi rating among skaters and it’s not even close. I can only hope that he isn’t scratched again because of this. He is a good defenseman and an excellent puck-mover, but does not belong on the shutdown role.
Tim Gleason - Was on ice for five even strength goals and eight overall. Also a -8 in scoring chances and -17 in corsi. Granted, it was with really tough minutes but he’s not beating out his competition as well as he did earlier in the year. Maybe it’s time to reunite him with Bryan Allen? Was glad that he stood up for Skinner in the Edmonton game, though.
Eric Staal - Two goals and five points in three games for Staal. Ended up being a -1 and -3 through scoring chances and corsi respectively but he was the team’s leading scorer this week. It’s good to see the percentages play in favor of him this time around.
Mike Murphy: Saw his first action as an NHL goaltender and stopped all seven shots he faced. With how Ward is playing, is it time to give Murphy his first NHL start? What harm could it do, really?
Jeff Skinner - Still killing it in terms of creating chances and added yet another goal but he missed Friday’s game against Winnipeg after being railed by Andy Sutton…or was it the flu?. Either way, he still hasn’t practiced yet. Get well soon, Jeff.
Bryan Allen - +4 in scoring chances and a +11 in corsi. Not only that but he was on ice for only one goal against. Why the hell is he not playing on the shutdown pair again?
Derek Joslin - Underlying numbers are beginning to swing in his favor as he was a +5 in scoring chances. Was on ice for three opposing goals, unfortunately.
Jaroslav Spacek - His performance on Friday surpassed my expectations by a longshot. Two assists and a +5 in scoring chances. Let’s hope that he can keep this up…and/or stay healthy.
Andreas Nodl - After failing to be on ice for a single scoring chance last week he was a +1 with a 5:4 ratio this week. Felt that was worth mentioning.
Tuomo Ruutu - Scored two goals (although one of them was a tip-in) and had a pretty “Ruutu” like week. A +3 in scoring chances, but a -3 in corsi and he was on ice for three goals for and against. Guess that passes as good week for him when you factor in the two tallies.
Anthony Stewart - Was on ice for more scoring chances for than against this week and I’m pretty sure that’s the first time this year that’s happened.
Brandon Sutter - Scored a powerplay goal and was dominant in terms of possession with a +18 corsi rating. That’s with a ton of defensive zone starts, too.
Patrick Dwyer - Finished off a beautiful goal against Edmonton and was even in just about every category during his venture on the top line.
Jiri Tlusty - Scored on a penalty shot against Calgary and was a +1 in scoring chances. Also got to play on the top line for a couple games, but he hasn’t been terribly impressive by the eye test.
Joni Pitkanen - Sustained an upper-body injury against Calgary and was sent back to Raleigh. Sigh.
Jussi Jokinen – I can tell you one guy that’s going to miss Jeff Skinner. His line with him and Ruutu were reunited against Edmonton and Jokinen had his best game since returning from injury then. Then Skinner missed Friday’s game and Jokinen ended up not being much of a factor again. Still finished the week with a +2 and an assist.