The final score of last night's 5-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets does not accurate reflect the way the game went, because the Hurricanes did not turn in a horrible effort and outchanced the Jackets 20-15. The bounces just weren't going Carolina's way early and after having most of their best chances turned down by Columbus goalie Steve Mason, the Hurricanes became frustrated and just gave up. That's the best way I can summarize this game. Sometimes you'll have games where absolutely nothing goes right and that's what happened tonight. Cam Ward turned in a very weak performance, neither the powerplay nor penalty kill was working at all and all of Carolina's mistakes ended up resulting in goals against while Columbus was bailed out by Steve Mason numerous times. After numerous attempts to solve the Columbus netminder, the Canes just completely turned off the gas and let the Jackets do whatever they wanted and took a 5-1 loss.
Ever since Kirk Muller took over, one thing the Hurricanes have prided themselves in is giving a full effort every night and competing no matter what the score is. We saw that tonight...until RJ Umberger scored to make it 4-1 Jackets in the third period and then they looked like they had already left for Detroit. It wasn't a pretty sight and it reminded me a lot of the opening night game against Tampa Bay. A three goal lead that late in the game is tough to come back from but the Hurricanes could have at least made an effort to score one goal or generate a few chances to give themselves something to build off for tomorrow's game. Anything is better than just laying flat for the last five minutes.
Carolina had a good showing for two and a half periods even if the score doesn't indicate it, but the way they finished this game is something they shouldn't be proud of.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Carolina's scoring chances are in red, Columbus' are in white
So, what caused the Hurricanes to lose this game so badly if they had the advantage in shots and scoring chances? For starters, Columbus got great goaltending, Carolina did not. The first two goals that Ward let in were extremely soft and those will absolutely kill you when you're going against a goalie who played as well as Mason did tonight. I'm not saying that this loss is entirely on Ward's hands because there wasn't much he could do about the last three goals, but he did not have a good game at all.
Failure on both the poweprlay and penalty kill was the other thing that killed Carolina as they had a few chances to strike early on the powerplay and didn't score or create many chances. Considering that the Jackets have the worst penalty kill in the NHL, it's pretty bad that the Hurricanes could only create three scoring chances in 6+ minutes of powerplay time. To make matters worse, the Blue Jackets scored on their first powerplay opportunity (which was one of the soft goals Ward let by) and forced Carolina to climb out of a two-goal deficit in the second period. Had Carolina scored on one of their early powerplays or any of the three they had in the second and third periods, then this could have been a different game. Hell, if they created more chances then it probably would have been a different game but that wasn't the case.
Lastly, all of the Hurricanes mistakes turned into goals for the Jackets while the Hurricanes had almost all of their chances shut down by Mason. Take Umberger's second goal, for example. The Jackets get a three on-two rush because the first line was caught deep and Chad LaRose was slow on the back-check. This allowed Umberger to get free and Derrick Brassard hit him with a perfect pass and he fired home a one-timer. Jay Harrison also had a horrible slip-up on Umberger's hat trick goal and Jamie McBain was caught deep on Letestu's goal. Then you look at the number of miscues the Jackets' defense had that didn't hurt them because of Mason's terrific play. The Hurricanes had Columbus pinned into their own zone numerous times but they couldn't take advantage of small errors like failed clears, defensive breakdowns and blown assignments. This is partially due to Mason and the Hurricanes lack of finish in these situations. Jokinen's line produced quite a few chances and Staal was stoned by Mason quite a few times. Unfortunately, neither scored and Staal's line looked ugly on the third Columbus goal. Either way, the Jackets made the Hurricanes pay for their mistakes.
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Eric Staal & Jiri Tlusty +3
Worst EV Forwards: Tuomo Ruutu & Tim Brent -1
Best EV Defenseman: Justin Faulk +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Jay Harrison -1
Each line seemed to have their chances and Staal's line had the most as they produced seven. They were held off the scoresheet completely but all three were doing plenty of good things in the offensive zone and both Staal & Tlusty were pretty active tonight when it came to getting chances on net. Unfortunately, they were all tagged with a -2 and will be remembered for their poor back-checking on Umberger's second goal but their night wasn't all bad. Jokinen's line was also producing chances and Jussi himself was the most active with six shots on goal and three scoring chances.
A story revolving around Jokinen's line is that Tuomo Ruutu was bumped to the fourth line with Anthony Stewart & Tim Brent. This caused a ruckus among fans but I don't think it's anything serious in the big picture. However, while Ruutu did not have his best game and I can understand Muller wanting to send a message to players, I'm not sure that demoting one of the team's best forwards is the right way to go about it. That said, Ruutu played about 5 minutes and six shifts in the third period so I don't think this "demotion" is anything serious.
Brandon Sutter's line did a great job defensively in allowing only three scoring chances and they produced the Hurricanes' only goal. Drayson Bowman's been scoring a bit lately and it's nice to see considering that he went nearly two months without a goal earlier in the season. One negative effect of having this line defending Rick Nash & co. is that someone else had to defend Umberger's line and that ended up being Staal, Tlusty & LaRose. You can see how that turned out.
Harrison & Faulk were also assigned Umberger's line and their defensive numbers weren't bad at all. Harrison had that one major slip-up in the third period but I thought these two played a solid game overall. Tim Gleason & Bryan Allen were also rock solid in their own end and were the only defense pairing that wasn't on ice for a goal against at even strength. They were also effective at keeping Nash's line quiet for most of the night. Prospal & Letestu's goals came against different defense pairings.
If any pairing was shaky in their own end, it was Joni Pitkanen & Jamie McBain. Pitkanen's puck-handling skills are a key to the team's success but they can also hurt the team when he gets caught deep. McBain seemed to be prone to more mistakes, though as he made an ill-timed pinch on Letestu's goal and horribly misplayed a puck at the blue-line which nearly led to a goal for Ryan Russell. Pitkanen is not without his flaws either as he wasn't very effective on the powerplay and had a couple of bad turnovers. This is why I do not like the idea of having these two play together. Pitkanen needs top four minutes and McBain will likely be with him for most of them, and I don't having two guys in the top-four who are better offensive weapons than defenders. These two may have had the strongest possession numbers among defensemen but they had a very mixed game when it came to creating & preventing chances.
Head-to-head at five-on-five
- Gleason & Allen did their jobs in neutralizing Rick Nash's line and they also did a solid job against Brassard-Umberger-Atkinson. Unfortunately, every other defense pairing couldn't stop that line.
- Jack Johnson must have read all of the snide comments that the stats community has been making about him ever since the Jeff Carter trade because he was great tonight. He started a ton of shifts in the offensive zone but it's hard to say that he didn't play his role.
- Faulk & Harrison seemed to only excel against bottom-six competition.
- Outside of Jack Johnson & David Savard, the Jackets' defense corps was AWFUL and that's expected with the injuries to James Wisniewski & Fedor Tyutin. It's one of the reasons why Carolina was able to stay in Columbus' zone for long durations & get so many shots on goal. It's a damn shame that they didn't get many goals to show for it but you have to give a lot of credit to Mason, too.
- In terms of defense, Sutter's line had trouble against Rick Nash and played strongly against just about everyone else.
- Staal's line seemed to destroy any other Columbus defense pairing that wasn't Jack Johnson in terms of getting chances on net.
- Umberger's line appeared to do most of their damage against Pitkanen & McBain along with the Staal line. Not too much of a surprise there.
Columbus Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Mark Letestu, Vinny Prospal & RJ Umberger +1
Worst EV Forward: Ryan Russell -5
Best EV Defenseman: Jack Johnson +2
Worst EV Defensemen: Aaron Johnson & Brett Lebda -4
|CBJ||1||13:10||Prospal - GOAL||12||19||28||30||44||59||1||7||17||22||58||61||5v5|
|CAR||2||6:45||Bowman - GOAL||16||21||25||28||30||39||1||4||5||19||25||40||5v5|
|CBJ||2||5:24||Umberger - GOAL||4||12||15||25||30||53||1||6||13||16||18||23||5v5|
|CBJ||3||3:15||Letestu - GOAL||4||16||21||25||30||59||1||7||17||22||58||61||5v5|