In a week where the Canes were 1-2-0 and outscored 12-7 there are bound to be very few positives. That’s pretty much what the case is for this past week. With all three games being at home, I expected much better from Carolina and they got off to a good start with a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay, but the next two games were disasters. It’s even more frustrating when you bring up the fact that they were 2/13 on the powerplay over the course of two games with a few of those chances coming when the games were still in reach. The loss of Jussi Jokinen played a huge role in that as he was our best forward for the first month of the year but the second line has been doing fine without him. The first line and the powerplay are completely different stories, though. Staal has been posting better underlying number lately but they aren’t turning into points, but I have a feeling that will change soon.
As for now, let’s revisit the past week and see what the bright spots were for the Canes.
I’m going with a different method this week. Quality of competition is useless this early in the season, so I’ll be using corsi for the x-axis on the graph and judge a player’s performance relative to where they start their shifts on the ice. As you can see, things look really bad right now. Almost every player has been buried with defensive zone starts because the Canes are getting outshot so badly every night and it’s having a big effect on the team’s performance. Allen, Gleason, Sutter and Dwyer are still getting the toughest assignments with Ponikarovsky not close behind and all five are struggling to keep their heads above water in corsi, unsurprisingly. Harrison and Kaberle are getting the soft assignments among defensemen and I’d like to see them improve a little, but their scoring chance numbers looked a lot better than their performance suggests here. You can also see how big of a loss Jokinen is. He was taking some tough draws and was one of the better forwards on the team at creating offense with them. Joslin’s corsi is ridiculous and was not pictured here due to a small sample size.
Jeff Skinner: When a player’s weakest performance of the week is a game where he scored two goals, then you know he’s on fire. Skinner really tore it up in the Washington game and had another good performance against Dallas. It’s great to see him get fired up this week and hopefully it leads to more goals.
Chad LaRose: Scored two of the three powerplay goals Carolina had this week and added another one at even strength to boot. LaRose is doing such a great job at both creating chances and driving possession and had arguably the team’s strongest performance this week in both areas.
Jay Harrison: Still enjoying those favorable zone starts and getting to play with Tomas Kaberle as he added three more assists to his point total this week and came out positive in scoring chances yet again. Being on ice for five total goals helps too.
Cam Ward: Let in 13 goals in three games and a good few of them should have been stopped. He’s been carrying the team for a couple weeks but it looks like all of that pressure is finally crashing down on him. An .850 save percentage just isn’t going to cut it.
Bryan Allen: Was on-ice for five total goals against and three of them were at even strength. I figured that him and Gleason’s play would crash down to earth at some point and it looks like it did for Allen.
Jamie McBain: Was on ice for four goals against at even strength and didn’t look good on any of them. Maurice scratched him against Dallas because he had a “rough night” against the Caps, which is true and I personally would have preferred to see him have another day off tonight against the Devils.
Jiri Tlusty: Want to know why I was skeptical of him on the first line despite him putting up good underlying numbers. He had only one assist this week, was on-ice for six goals against and didn’t have that much of an effect at all. That’s why. He was even in terms of scoring chances, at least.
Patrick Dwyer: I haven’t been happy with how the third line’s been playing lately but Dwyer’s been the most disappointing. I know offense isn’t his game but I was hoping that he would produce at least more than one scoring chance this week. Him being on-ice for four goals against and no Carolina goals didn’t help either.
Alexei Ponikarovsky: Starting to get back to doing what he does best: drive possession and create chances. Ended up positive in scoring chances and one of the few Canes with a good corsi rating. Seems like he’s a good fit on that third line.
Anthony Stewart: Had a great game on the second line against Washington and was shortly demoted back to the fourth line to do nothing. Okay…
Brandon Sutter: Like Dwyer, he didn’t produce a lot of offense this week but was slightly better defensively. He was brutal at faceoffs, though.
Brian Boucher: Stopped 12 of 13 shots in relief duty against Dallas, which may have been his best performance of the year.
Derek Joslin: Was inserted into the lineup against Dallas and had an alright game aside from two horrible defensive gaffes that led to two Dallas goals. He’s now back in the press-box tonight.
Drayson Bowman: Got to play two games on the fourth line and didn’t do anything worth mentioning.
Eric Staal: Had his strongest week at even strength as he was on ice for 17 Carolina chances and only 8 opposing chances. The points are going to come to him eventually if he keeps this up. He was also one of our better performers on the powerplay and had a strong week at the faceoff circle.
Joni Pitkanen: Much better showing from Pitkanen this week but he still had a few ugly miscues and ended up being on ice for four opposing goals.
Jussi Jokinen: Had that beauty of an assist last Tuesday and then injured his knee and missed the rest of the week. He’s now skating again which is great news for the team.
Tim Brent: Still playing only 5-8 minutes a game and getting plastered in shots and faceoffs during that time.
Tim Gleason: Regression is setting in for him as he’s still on ice for a lot of opposing chances but he’s outperforming Allen a little bit. Gleason was on ice for only one goal against at even strength this week and nearly broke even in corsi.
Tomas Kaberle: I know everyone is frustrated with him but he’s still getting plenty of chances, they just aren’t translating into goals or points yet. His defensive miscues always seem to end up in the back of the net, too which is frustrating but I think we will see him get on the scoresheet more as the season goes on. It’s worth noting that Kaberle was on ice for four of the Canes goals and only two against.
Tuomo Ruutu: Scored a powerplay goal and was one of the team’s better players in terms of creating chances, but he was also on ice for five goals against. Thankfully he is off-setting his defensive woes with some good showings offensively at even strength and on the powerplay.
Zac Dalpe: Just came back from a rehab stint in Charlotte and will be back on the fourth line starting tonight.
Zach Boychuk: Was finally promoted to the second line for some of Sunday’s game and was on ice for four chances at even strength and two on the powerplay. Let’s keep him on the second line for now because we might have something good here.