We’ve seen this team put together winning streaks despite getting dominated in the possession game and this past week was one of those times. The Hurricanes won three out of their four games and controlled roughly 45% of the corsi events at even strength. To most people, this would tell people that the Canes are a house of cards and a tough losing streak is right around the corner, but if you were to go by only shots and scoring chances, their underlying numbers do not look nearly as bad. The Hurricanes actually controlled 50.3% of the even strength shots this past week but only 49.5% at even strength, so they were being outplayed but not nearly as bad as the possession numbers indicate.
Numbers aside, I’m sure that many fans are feeling good about this past week. They shutout the top team in the Western Conference, had two comeback victories and a good effort against the Eastern Conference leading New York Rangers. The Canes lack the talent to be a dominant possession team right now but Kirk Muller has them giving their best effort every night and I’m glad that we’re starting to see more wins come with it. Although, I am a tad skeptical about how these final ten games will go because the Canes are still spending a lot of time in their own end and that’s going to come back to hurt them sooner or later.
After the jump, we’ll single out some performances from the last week.
Chad LaRose – Scored two game winning goals and an empty netter this week and was the team’s best forward at controlling scoring chances. He was also credited with 17 shots on goal, was on ice for six of the Hurricanes even strength goals and was one of only three forwards with a corsi rating of above 50% at even strength. I was thinking that he would just miss the 20-goal mark again but if he keeps playing like this then he should get there. The time on the top-six and the powerplay should help him with that.
Eric Staal – After a rough week, the captain is back on track with five points in four games including a two-goal performance against Winnipeg. He also had great performances against Minnesota and St. Louis that got him above the 50% mark in scoring chances again. The Canes usually go as far as Staal, Ward and a few others can take them, so it’s not a surprise to see them winning more games when Staal is playing like he has been.
Drayson Bowman – Bowman finally had a few bounces go in his favor as he scored three goals and recorded an assist this past week. I’ve been a huge fan of the way he’s played this year and think that he’s working his way to earning a full-time spot on the roster next season. The puck is usually in the opponent’s end when he’s on the ice and now that he’s finally scoring, he could be a very useful piece on this team. Bowman finished the week with 11 shots on goal and was on ice for four Carolina goals and none of the opponent’s.
Cam Ward – Had a shutout, two quality starts and a save percentage of .930. Speaks for itself.
Tim Brent – Recorded four points this past week and was on ice for over half of the team’s powerplay scoring chances.
Bryan Allen – The Hurricanes gave up 12 shorthanded chances this past week, Bryan Allen was on ice for all but three of them. Ever since the trade deadline, he’s been getting torched both at even strength and on special teams. He was also the only defenseman to register a point.
Tuomo Ruutu – He has yet to record a point since returning from injury and has failed to make much of an impact at all. He had only five total shots on goal in four games, controlled less than 45% of the scoring chances and was demoted from the first line. Not the best performance to have when you’re coming off a contract extension.
Derek Joslin – Joslin was on ice for two opposing goals, had corsi & scoring chance ratings below 30% and proved to be more harmful than helpful on the fourth line. His line with Brent & Stewart was fun while it lasted but I think it’s time to pull the plug on this experiment with him at forward.
Jiri Tlusty – Returned to the lineup on Saturday and played pretty well. Tlusty recorded two assists, was on ice for 11 scoring chances and two goals. However, he was also hit hard on the penalty kill and was on ice for three of the opponent’s goals.
Jaroslav Spacek – Spacek also returned to the lineup against Minnesota, played nine minutes and is now out with a lower-body injury.
Brian Boucher – He made his first start since December on Saturday and earned his first win of the season. He allowed three goals on 26 shots and looked really bad on Kyle Brodziak’s maarker but he made a few key saves and avoided a complete blow-up. Hopefully he gets more starts down the stretch to give Ward a break.
Jay Harrison – He led all defensemen in scoring chance percentage and played strong in his own end. Harrison didn’t record any points but he did his job in preventing chances and shots against, and that’s what matters to me. Unfortunately, he was also on ice for five goals against, four of which were at even strength.
Andreas Nodl – Before getting KO’d by Zach Bogosian on Sunday, Nodl was one of the team’s best defensive forwards in allowing only 11 even strength chances over three and a half games. He also finally saw time on the penalty kill and surrendered only one scoring chance in that situation. Hopefully he gets better and continues to be used more on the PK.
Jamie McBain – Didn’t record any points, which is odd for him but he was creating chances as he led the defense in scoring chances for at even strength. However, he gave just as many back in his own end which is probably because he was used on a pairing with Tim Gleason for a couple games this week. McBain’s effective in a more offensive role but the injury to Spacek definitely limits how many offensive minutes he can play.
Justin Faulk – Had a week similar to Harrison only he was on ice for 10 of the team’s powerplay chances and yet, he has no points to show for it. Bad luck? Maybe just a little bit.
Jeff Skinner – Skinner was suspended for two games for “kicking” but was very productive in the two games he did play last week. He scored his 20th goal of the season and had 10 shots on goal. It’ll be good to have him back but let’s hope that the team starts to protect him more because he took a few beatings against St. Louis.
Tim Gleason – Surrendered 26 scoring chances in his own end but was more active offensively by being on ice for 22 even strength scoring chances. Might be a season high for Gleason.
Patrick Dwyer – Recorded an assist, was one of the team’s better penalty killers and was on ice for only one goal against. Oh, and he also got into his first NHL fight where he was pummeled by Spencer Machacek. Let’s hope that’s his last fight.
Brandon Sutter– Sutter had his first career Gordie Howe hat trick against Minnesota and was simply outstanding in the faceoff circle and on the penalty kill.
Jussi Jokinen – How do you make up for having one of the worst scoring chance ratings on the team? By scoring four points in as many games. That’s what Jokinen did this past week and it prevents him from getting a negative rating for now. It’s funny because in February, he was one of the team’s best forwards at controlling scoring chances & possession but hardly recorded any points. In March, it’s been the complete opposite.
Anthony Stewart – Was “in the doghouse” to begin the week but he eventually worked his way out of it and back into the lineup. He recorded an assist but was one of the team’s worst possession players and was on ice for two goals against.
Bobby Sanguinetti – Played his first three games as a Hurricane this past week and did okay at best. Sanguinetti wasn’t as active offensively as I would have liked and he ended up giving up twice as many scoring chances as he produced. He did do some good work on the powerplay against Winnipeg, though and made a key play on LaRose’s game winning goal against St. Louis.
Jerome Samson – Samson is back in Charlotte after being regulated to the fourth line and then the press box.