An injury to Chad LaRose back on January 10th caused Kirk Muller to shake things up once again and he did so by placing everyone's favorite waiver claim Andreas Nodl on the third line with Brandon Sutter and Patrick Dwyer. This is the usual "defensive unit" for the Hurricanes that starts a lot of their shifts in their own zone and is matched up against other teams top lines. Nodl's specialty is defense so he seems like a natural fit on this line and ever since he has been placed on it, they have seen a fair amount of success.
In the 11 games they've played together, this line has been on ice for only two goals against, have a scoring chance percentage of 53.4% and are doing this while starting at least 64% of their draws in their own zone.That is extremely impressive for a line that gets this kind of workload. We know that Sutter and Dwyer have been doing this all and their success has been on-and-off, so is Nodl the secret behind this line or is he just riding a hot streak?
I don't think it is fair to say that Nodl is the complete reason for this line's success because he's been invisible on just about every other line and we've seen guys like LaRose and Tlusty play well with Sutter & Dwyer before. However, I do think that Nodl's defensive play is a big factor behind this line's success. Whenever you are on ice for 27 scoring chances against in 11 games, you are doing something right.
Every team needs a unit like this to be successful and it looks like the Canes are on the way to finding there's but the one thing that worries me is their lack of offense. Brandon Sutter is becoming a great two-way player but Dwyer and Nodl aren't exactly offensive stalwarts. Dwyer has nine points all season and Nodl has only five. I know Nodl has 22 with the Flyers last year but I'm willing to bet that most of it was due to playing with Mike Richards and James Van Riemsdyk. Sutter isn't Richards and Dwyer is obviously not JVR so Nodl's point total probably isn't getting over 15.
Either way, I can appreciate this line's great play in their own end for now since their success appears to be legit and not just luck-driven. Although, the PDO Crystal Ball isn't projecting good things for this line as all three members have PDO's above 1000 and it's due to high save percentages. I would keep a sharp eye on that because a small downturn could be just around the corner. The low amount of scoring chances they are giving up makes me confident in them for now, though.