Some say that the NHL is a sport where you live and die by special teams and while I believe that controlling the play at even strength is more important, special teams performance can determine the outcome of a lot of games. Take Carolina's game last night against the Flyers for instance, the chances were even at 10 a piece when playing at even strength but the difference is that the Flyers scored on four of their chances while the Canes only scored once. It was the Canes special teams which kept them in this game. Yep, two shorthanded goals (one on a penalty shot) from Patrick Dwyer are what put things within reach for Carolina. Oh, you thought I was going to say something about the powerplay? I should because they had a big role in Carolina losing this game. On five powerplay opportunities, the Canes created only one scoring chance and one of those opportunities came when the game was 4-3 in favor of the Flyers. Like I said, special teams can win and lose games for some teams and this ineffective powerplay is really hurting the Canes right now.
More after the jump
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Philadelphia Flyers 11/14/11 Scoring Chances
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Carolina's chances in red, Philadelphia's are in orange
The Flyers' powerplay was just as ineffective as ours but the difference was they scored on one of their opportunities and were converting on their even strength chances, too. The PK actually did well overall and the Flyers exactly control the pace of play at even strength. I just need to revisit how bad the powerplay was. We had five tries on the powerplay and yet could only generate one scoring chance. We had more chances SHORTHANDED than we did on the powerplay. That is just pathetic. I said earlier in the season that the powerplay would convert eventually but it has completely died off the past couple of weeks and it's only going to get worse without Joni Pitkanen. Had we scored at least one powerplay goal then this would have been a completely different game. It would also be nice if we could stop giving up so many shorthanded chances, too. Three in one game is enough.
Individual Scoring Chances:
Best EV Forward: Eric Staal +3
Worst EV Forwards: Alexei Ponikarovsky & Jeff Skinner -2
Best EV Defensemen: Jay Harrison, Bryan Allen & Jamie McBain +1
Worst EV Defenseman: Tim Gleason, Tomas Kaberle & Derek Joslin -1
The Staal at winger experiment is going pretty well so far as his line with Brandon Sutter and Chad LaRose was the team's best in this game. They were dominant territorially and Sutter had one of his best games of the season. Staal also did a fantastic job on the penalty kill as he allowed no chances in his three minutes of PK time and set up Dwyer's first shorthanded goal. I don't think it's too far-fetched to say that he was the Canes best player last night, and that's really the way it should be.
The Skinner-Jokinen-Ruutu line scored the team's only even strength goal but I felt that they were very quiet overall and the scoring chance data confirms that. Although, I thought Ruutu looked the best out of all of them. Sutter being on the first line really effects how the ice-time is being distributed in the bottom-six. The third line played less than ten minutes and weren't matched up with anyone, which I think is kind of odd because Brent can be a good defensive center. I know Sutter's our best defensive forward but I'd like to see what Brent can do against tougher competition.
Jay Harrison actually played well against the Jagr-Giroux-Hartnell line for the most part and it's a nice rebound from him after the shellacking he took against Pittsburgh. Bryan Allen & Jamie McBain are turning into a solid pairing as they kept the Briere line in check for most of this game and came out in the black with scoring chances. I saw that Twitter was all over Tomas Kaberle once again and for once I agree, he was terrible in last night's game and even worse on the powerplay. With Pitkanen out, he needs to be a lot better.
Head-to-Head at Even Strength
The Flyers' third line really got to us in this game. They contributed to two of their goals and beat nearly all of their matchups. Our third line didn't exactly fare well when matched up against them either. Their first line wasn't terribly effective but they seemed to do well when matched up with certain players. The Staal-Sutter-LaRose line was good but they could have been a lot better. Staal and Sutter were easily more effective at generating chances than LaRose was.
Once again, another team's third pairing manages to win all of their matchups against us. Granted, Philly has two pretty good d-men in Meszaros and Lilja as their fifth and sixth defensemen but none of our lines constantly not being able to take advantage of the opponent's weakest defense pairing is getting frustrating. Then again, nearly every player we matched up with Coburn and Timonen managed to come out on top agains them. The only ones who didn't were Kaberle and Joslin. Go figure. McBain-Allen really took care of the Briere line but they gave a lot back against Talbot, Read and Voracek but that line seemed to have our number tonight no matter who we put against them.
|PHI||1||18:41||Giroux - GOAL||6||30||36||44||53||59||19||20||25||28||35||68||5v5|
|PHI||1||11:10||Talbot - GOAL||4||5||23||30||37||39||6||24||27||35||41||93||5v5|
|CAR||1||0:01||Dwyer - GOAL||5||6||12||30||39||17||20||21||24||28||35||4v5|
|PHI||2||17:15||Giroux - GOAL||5||6||16||23||30||59||6||19||28||35||41||68||5v5|
|CAR||2||8:00||Ruutu - GOAL||4||5||15||33||36||53||5||17||21||35||44||48||5v5|
|CAR||3||15:24||Dwyer - GOAL||16||27||33||39||44||19||25||35||44||48||68||4v5|
|PHI||3||3:52||Read - GOAL||6||12||16||33||44||59||20||24||25||35||48||93||5v5|