The Hurricanes have not seen a lot of bounces go their way this season which is why last night's game against the Philadelphia Flyers was a nice change of pace for this team. All season long they've been unlucky with goaltending, shooting and special teams but things finally seemed to go right for them in this game. They were outchanced by six shots at even strength but still managed to come out on top thanks to excellent goaltending from Cam Ward and the powerplay scoring two goals. Yes, you heard that right; the powerplay scored not once, but twice! The best part of it that both goals came relatively early in the powerplay so they were getting things done fast.
If you recall, I have made points saying that the Canes were in the top-half of the league in shots per 60 minutes on the powerplay, which means that they couldn't be stuck on an 11% powerplay conversion rate forever. Over the last few games, I lost confidence because the team wasn't producing chances with the man advantage and figured their shot rate would decline with it. Then this game happened and they scored two quick goals, one of which came with the score tied. Those goals proved to be huge as they were arguably the main reason the Hurricanes left Philly with two points.
More after the jump
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Philadelphia Flyers 11/21/11 Scoring Chances
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Carolina decided to fight fire with fire in the first period and were slightly outplayed but took a 2-0 lead into the second period thanks to the powerplay goal from Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jeff Skinner's beautiful spin-o-rama goal which you should look for on Youtube right now. Scoring effects played a role in the second period because the Canes were nursing a two goal lead for most of the time. This really does show how big the second powerplay goal from Ponikarovsky was, though. Carolina was dominated at even strength in that frame and the Flyers were able to cut the lead to 3-2, but the timely powerplay goal from Ponikarovsky gave the Canes back their two goal cushion and seem to kill the Flyers' rally. I also thought Carolina did a great job of shutting down the Flyers in the third period and preventing a comeback. That period was much more laid back compared to the first two and most of it was due to Carolina's strong defensive play.
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Jiri Tlusty +1
Worst EV Forward: Jeff Skinner, Tuomo Ruutu & Eric Staal -3
Best EV Defenseman: Jamie McBain & Tomas Kaberle +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Justin Faulk & Tim Gleason -5
Faulk did look good out there and he, along with Jay Harrison, were given a ton of responsibility tonight. They played the most minutes, saw a lot of time against the Flyers best forwards, started 10 shifts in the defensive zone and were on-ice for a lot of chances for and against as a result. I thought they both played a good game despite what the scoring chances say, but I think I would be more comfortable with both in a slightly decreased role in future games. They created a lot of chances but they gave A LOT back in their own end and that's something that can't happen every night. Although, Maurice may have elected to put them in this role because of how poorly Gleason and Allen played. Seriously, what the hell happened there?
Tomas Kaberle & Jamie McBain were both very solid at even strength and on the powerplay. They are still getting fewer minutes than any other defensemen and are being protected the most but it worked for them this game. I thought this was one of McBain's stronger games in recent history.
Ruutu, Skinner & Staal had the same problem that the Faulk/Harrison pairing had. They were creating chances, but giving up a lot in their own ends, too. Still, they were the best line offensively tonight when playing at even strength and it's hard to argue against that. Overall, I would say the best line was the Tlusty-Sutter-Dwyer line who were very good defensively five-on-five and had a created a few good scoring chances, too. Ponikarovsky had a solid game overall as he was one of the Canes better forwards when it came to territorial play and had those two powerplay goals.
Head-to-Head at 5-on-5
Notice how the Giroux line was held quiet for most of the game. They had success against the Gleason/Allen pairing but not much else. This is also where I thought Harrison/Faulk were effective as both seemed to neutralize Giroux and Hartnell a fair amount. Our third line played well very against them, too and that line seemed to have a very solid night overall.
The Flyers third line has killed us all season no matter who they put on it. I thought Matt Read moving up would make things slightly easier but Andreas Nodl proved to be a very adequate replacement for him. What's odd is that Read wasn't much of a factor in this game when playing 5-on-5. He scored a powerplay goal but didn't do much otherwise.
As far as taking advantage of the Flyers beaten up defense corps, that did play a roll once we got to the Lilja/Bourdon pairing. Those two lost every single one of their matchups when they were paired together and were also on ice for Chad LaRose's goal. Skinner may have embarrassed Kimmo Timonen on his goal but #44 ended up getting the upper hand in this game when it came to scoring chances. However, it is worth noting that Timonen was on ice for five of Carolina's even strength chances and four of them came from Skinner.
JVR-Briere-Read were virtually a non-factor when playing five-on-five and they were another line that didn't have much success against Faulk/Harrison. It is interesting how well these two played against some of the Flyers big guns but struggled so much with that third line. The same can be said for the entire team, really.