If you've following the Hurricanes this month, you should not be surprised that all five of their losses have been by only one goal. To add to that, four of those losses have come in overtime or the shootout with their second shootout loss coming tonight at the hands of the Florida Panthers. It is their sixth loss in the breakaway competition this season and they have still yet to win a game that has gone this far.
Before we talk about how silly the shootout is, let's back up and look at the rest of the game and see why the game even went to extra time in the first place. The Canes had a 2-0 lead entering the third period but they also were being outshot 30-19 and outchanced 14-9 at the time. With how well Justin Peters was playing, all the Canes had to do was not sit back and try not to lose the game. Unfortunately, that's what they did and Florida ended up tying the score with goals from Tomas Fleischmann and Wojtek Wolski. You can say that the shootout has been a problem for the Canes all season but the truth is that horrible territorial play and lackluster showings in the third peirod are bigger problems that need to be fixed. It's been going on all season and it reared it's ugly head again tonight.
Florida was the better team but Carolina got the bounces and the goaltending they need to get at least a point. What they didn't get was the strong defensive play and territorial game that you need to secure a regulation win.
Scoring chances & more after the jump
Florida Panthers at Carolina Hurricanes 2/25/12 Scoring Chances
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Carolina's chances are in red, Florida's are in white
I was shocked that the Hurricanes led after the first period because they were straight up dominated during that frame and the only reason Florida didn't score was because Peters played out of his mind. The Canes also took advantage of a powerplay opportunity and some horrible penalty killing by the Panthers as Justin Faulk scored his sixth goal of the season. Carolina played much better in the second period and managed to even things up a little in terms of shots and scoring chances as they came out strong to start the frame with five unanswered chances. It wasn't until later in the period when they made it 2-0 as Jeff Skinner made a great individual effort to get the puck deep and draw two Florida players to him which freed up Jussi Jokinen in the slot. Skinner made a great feed to Jokinen and the Finn made no mistake in burying chance into an open net.
Then the third period happened. The Canes put little to no offensive pressure during this frame as they had only two even strength scoring chances and spent very little time in the Panthers zone. The Cats weren't exactly opening the floodgates on Carolina but the Canes were basically sitting back and letting Florida enter their zone with no issue and that never leads to anything good. Kris Versteeg made a great feed to Tomas Fleischmann for the first goal with about six minutes remaining. Carolina made little effort to build on their lead and the Panthers eventually tied the game as Wojtek Wolski got a lucky bounce off Tim Gleason's skate which resulted in his first goal of the season and a tie game. After a thrilling overtime period which consisted of some 3-on-3 play, the game went to a shootout and I think you all know the rest of the story.
In the end, you have to give credit to how Florida played because they kept attacking the Hurricanes despite getting zero luck for most of the game. The Hurricanes could have escaped this game with two points but they didn't play that good of a game and they ended up paying for it. It's hard to win when you give up 40+ shots every night, especially with your back-up goalie in net. They haven't had many performances like this recently but what I saw tonight wasn't pretty. Yes, the shootout is a gimmick but this game didn't even need to go to overtime but the Canes poor effort is what led to that.
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Drayson Bowman +5
Worst EV Forward: Jerome Samson -11
Best EV Defenseman: Jamie McBain +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Justin Faulk -6
Basically, the only forwards who were creating offense at even strength were the ones who were getting the benefit of easier zone starts. That line tonight was Bowman-Jokinen-Skinner and the main catalyst of that line seemed to be Bowman. He was given, by far, the easiest zone starts on the team but he was taking advantage of them at the very least. Jokinen also had a solid game and he and Skinner seem to be finding their chemistry again. Now if only the other member of that line could return from his upper-body injury relatively soon then we may have something here.
That same person really could have been used on the top line, as well because all three of them were brutal tonight at even strength. Staal had seven shots on goal (somehow) but not many of them were quality chances or came during 5-on-5 play. Samson was pretty awful tonight and so was Tlusty as they didn't create much in the offensive zone and gave up a ton in their own end. Staal and Tlusty have had a strong strech of games but everyone has off-nights and that's certainly what this was.
Patrick Dwyer had to leave the game in the first period with an upper-body injury and Tim Brent took his place on the third line. The result? Not much to speak of other than he played well defensively. Florida split up their "big three" so it was tougher for Carolina to defend them with one unit but Sutter & Nodl did a solid job against Stephen Weiss' line when they were assigned against them. These three did next to nothing in terms of creating offense, though.
Some may have noticed this but Justin Faulk logged a ton of minutes tonight. He played over 25 at even strength and nearly 28 overall and I'm not sure if he should be playing that much, to be honest. He was torched tonight at even strength and most of that was against Sean Bergenheim's line. Faulk's a great young defenseman but he has his limitations and I think his minutes should be reduced a little if has another performance like this. I could see this happening when Joni Pitkanen returns to the lineup. Harrison and Faulk are basically attached at the hip so their numbers look identical but he was particularly bad in the first period. He couldn't get the puck out of the defensive zone on a few occasions and made some questionable decisions at the blue-line as well.
Tim Gleason and Bryan Allen also had rough nights when it came to playing in their own end. They were on ice for both Florida goals and their defense on both was rather questionable. Versteeg made a great pass to Fleischmann but Allen looked a bit out of position on the play. Allen also screened Peters on the Wolski goal and it went off Gleason's skate.
McBain ended up leading the defense corps in scoring chances, which is largely due to the situations he plays in, but I thought he looked a tad off tonight too. He made a terrible play at the blue-line in the first period which led to an odd-man rush for Florida. His play in his own zone was also a bit questionable but he made up for it in the other end. He seems to be figuring out when is the right time to jump into the play and that's going to help a lot with a forward corps that's in need of goal-scoring talent. Spacek didn't do anything of note tonight to my recollection but he appeared to play decently.
Final note, please take Skinner off the penalty kill. I mean it this time.
Head-to-head at five-on-five
- McBain had a nice game overall because he was protected from Florida's top-six. He's basically doing everying you'd expect a third pairing defenseman to do.
- Brian Campbell and Jason Garrison dominated the Staal line tonight.
- Just about everyone in Florida's top-six outchanced everything the Canes threw at them. The only exception being the Skinner line. That was the only line who won most of their matchups.