There will be games where the team does most things right and plays well enough to win but comes out on the short end due to a few things going awry. Last night's 4-3 loss against the Coyotes was one of those games for the Hurricanes and it's very disappointing because this was one of their better efforts of the season. They had the powerplay going, held the Coyotes to less than 20 even strength shots and were getting a reasonable amount of production from all four lines. If that's the case, then why did they lose? Well, for one they continued their trend of playing awful four-on-four and surrendered the game-winning goal to Lauri Korpikoski in the third period in that situation. Phoenix goaltender Jason LaBarbera also played a very solid game stopping 34 of 37 shots compared to Cam Ward stopping 15 out of 19, although there wasn't much he could do about any of the goals he gave up. Phoenix converting on their one and only powerplay chance also played a factor while the Canes were 0 for 3 on the night despite getting some great looks with the man advantage.
In other words, the bounces went Phoenix's way in some areas but they certainly made the most of their opportunities while Carolina squandered away theirs. They also did a solid job of limited Caroliina's chances at even strength as the scoring chances aren't as lopsided as the shot total for both teams indicates. Phoenix was able to most of Carolina's shots to the outside and didn't allow them into the dangerous areas for much of the third period when they were protecting a 4-3 lead. Receiving a great performance in net like what Phoenix got from LaBarbera last night also helps.
Scoring chances & more after the jump
Phoenix Coyotes at Carolina Hurricanes 12/21/11 Scoring Chances
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Carolina's chances are in red, Phoenix's are in white
Worth noting that three of Carolina's chances in the third period came when the game was still 3-2 Carolina, so things were a bit more even after that and Phoenix did a good job of shutting down the Canes after they took the lead. People will likely point to Cal O'Reilly's goal in the second period as what changed the pace of the game and while the Canes were outchanced 7-6 after that point, they came out very strong in the third period and were getting plenty of pressure on the Coyotes. I would point to the Rostislav Klesla goal that made it 3-3 as more of a game changer since the Canes didn't have much life after that. The powerplay was certainly working though. Not too often that this team averages one scoring chance per minute on the PP but they did that last night.
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Jiri Tlusty +3
Worst EV Forward: Brandon Sutter & Eric Staal -2
Best EV Defenseman: Jay Harrison +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Tim Gleason -3
Jay Harrison may have been Carolina's best player as he was able to help create a lot of offense with the Ponikarovsky-Jokinen-Ruutu line (who also had a solid game with Jokinen leading the charge). This is why I think he along with Justin Fauk can exceed in a slightly sheltered role. They are capable of playing at least 20 minutes a night and can put up offense. For guys who I don't want to see sheltered, Bryan Allen is at the top of the list. He started eight shifts in the offensive zone compared to only two in his own end last night and finished as a +2 in corsi. That could be a lot better but I still think he needs to return to the top pairing because he is arguably the best defensvie defenseman on the team and despite that, he's playing sheltered minutes. Tim Gleason's play is clearly suffering without him so I do not understand the reasoning for him being sheltered at even strength.
Tough for me to pin down who was the best line last night but the fourth unit definitely had a strong game whenever they were used. Andreas Nodl's goal was due to a luckiy bounce on the boards but he along with Nash and Stewart were creating a good amount of possession in the Phoenix end when they were on the ice. That's how you earn ice time. Nash even earned himself a promotion to the top line, who were their usual selves last night. If there's one thing I don't like about this LaRose-Staal-Bowman unit, it's that they are not good defensively but I'm still trying to peg down who is the weak link here.
Jussi Jokinen put together another strong game with an assist to show for it as his line was probably Carolina's best last night even though they weren't the best when going head-to-head with Phoenix's best defensive players.
Head-to-head at even strength
The play five-on-five was certainly more even in terms of scoring chances and this confirms it as none of the Canes lines had too much of an advantage over anyone on the Coyotes. In fact, our top two lines didn't play that goof od a game at all as teh second line was dominated by Phoenix's underrated shutdown line with Tayor Pyatt, Boyd Gordon and Mikael Boedker. David Schlemko and Rostislav Klesla were also fantastic at even strength when playing against the Canes top unit and I was suprised by how well those two performed. The young defense pairing of David Rundblad and Oliver Ekman-Larsson were the only ones who played awful for Phoenix.
The fourth line played their match-up well as they were mainly used against Phoenix's bottom unit and ended up getting the advantage in chances there when they could. none of our defense pairings could do much about Phoenix's top two lines either and in order to win a game you'll have to stop the opposition's top six. That didn't happen and it was a factor despite two of the Coyotes' goals coming from outside that.
What's overlooked a bit here is that the bottom-six for the Hurricanes had a very strong game with four players winning all of their matchups. It's not surprise that Nodl and Tlusty were two of Carolina's three goal scorers. Tlusty's goal didn't count as a scoring chance but he was creating a bit for most of the night and he did exactly what he was supposed to do on a play like that; get the puck on net. Would have been nice if the top six was more consistent with creating chances.
|PHX||1||17:42||Whitney - GOAL||8||28||30||36||59||1||2||11||13||17||23||4v5|
|CAR||1||10:39||Ruutu - GOAL||4||15||23||30||36||44||1||6||16||19||22||53||5v5|
|CAR||2||14:11||Nodl - GOAL||5||8||13||14||20||30||1||2||23||24||26||37||5v5|
|PHX||2||6:36||O\'Reily - GOAL||5||8||12||16||30||59||1||2||23||24||26||37||5v5|
|PHX||3||15:41||Klesla - GOAL||12||21||28||30||44||59||1||6||16||19||22||28||5v5|
|PHX||3||9:12||Korpikoski - GOAL||4||6||12||20||30||1||3||13||28||53||4v4|