For whatever reason, overtime and the shootout have been cruel to the Canes this year, especially on the road. Last night's, 2-1 OT loss to the Islanders was the ninth OTL for the Canes this year and they have still yet to win a road overtime game. Frustrating isn't it? This game was definitely up there as one of the more frustrating losses of the season because Carolina had their chances and lost on a very strange goal. It isn't too often that you see a player bat in his own rebound out of mid-air but that's what John Tavares did on the game-winning goal last night. They were also stoned by Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov who showed signs of his 2004 form tonight stopping 32 of 33 shots.
The one thing we can take away from these tough losses is that the Hurricanes are staying competitive in all of their games. Five of their six losses this month have been by only one goal and they actually outchanced their opponent in three of those games including last night. The effort is there and the wins should follow once the team gets more skill up front and tightens things down on defense. They weren't outplayed as badly as the shot total indicates, but they still gave up a lot in their own end. For now, we just have to take the results as they come and focus on the positives of each game and there were quite a few in this one.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders 1/21/12 Scoring Chances
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Carolina's chances are in red, New York's are in white
I know the shot count says that the Hurricanes were outshot 40-33 and 31-29 at even strength but I went through every single one of them and a lot of those 40 shots came from the outside and I'm pretty sure the scorer at Nassau Coliseum was trigger-happy on the "record home shot" button because there were about four "shots on goal" that looked like they didn't even make it on net. Oddly enough, all of those were in the second period where the Hurricanes were "outshot" 23-8. There were also a couple of Carolina shots that weren't even recorded. Boy, I can't wait to deal with this three times a year when we move to the Islanders division!
On a more serious note, the Hurricanes made the most of their shots with more than half of them being quality chances and they did get control most of this game at even strength going by scoring chances. The one part of the game where they didn't was the second period where the Islanders opened the floodgates and got two powerplays on top of that but the Canes came out of that mess tied and had a chance to put it away in the third period. Unfortunately, Carolina didn't do much during that frame which led to the game going to overtime and we all know what happened after that. Carolina's inability to play well four-on-four is becoming tiring and their performance in the OT period shows that. Both goalies deserve a lot of credit tonight as Ward played a big role in the Canes coming out of the second period tied with the Islanders and I already mentioned how well Nabokov played. Who doesn't love a good goaltending duel?
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Zac Dalpe +5
Worst EV Forward: Andreas Nodl -2
Best EV Defenseman: Jamie McBain +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Justin Faulk, Tim Gleason & Bryan Allen +1
I swear that I didn't over-count. These are the correct scoring chance numbers and I'm just as surprised as you are. It is strange how the players who got less ice-time created a lot of chances but they seemed to be making the most of their time on ice. The main guy doing that was Zac Dalpe who had a terrific game on the second line and got a hard earned assist on Jeff Skinner's goal. That line was easily Carolina's best when it came to producing quality chances and I see a real future for them if they can stay consistent. I have to admit, I was skeptical about Dalpe's production for awhile because of how poor he played early on, but stronger linemates might be the key to his success. Playing on a line with Jeff Skinner would help a lot of players.
Jiri Tlusty actually impressed me a little bit in this game after playing so poorly in the last two. He was much more active in the offensive zone and played a strong game away from the puck. Maybe Ponikarovsky being traded and the constant lineup changes put some more pressure on him? Because he certainly looked like he was playing with a lot more spark tonight. Staal also had a very good game but he really would have been better suited to just shoot the puck when he had an opportunity instead of taking it behind the net and looking for an open man. Just get the puck on net and good things will happen, Eric.
I wouldn't be turned off by the negative rating for the third line because they played their role, as far as I am concerned. They were matched up against the Tavares line, gave up a total of three scoring chances against him and didn't give up a goal. The only time that line scored was when the Islanders got the matchup they wanted (against the Skinner line in the defensive zone) and when they were playing four on four in overtime, which always puts the Canes at a disadvantage.
Call me crazy but Chad LaRose might actually work out on the fourth line if Muller can roll all four units well. LaRose adds so much more to the fourth line with his physical play and solid puck-possession skills that it actually rubbed off on Brent and Stewart. Those two had one of their best games in awhile and I think the addition of LaRose had a lot to do with it. They were also protected to the max with a boat load of offensive zone starts.
Muller used both Allen/Gleason and Faulk/Harrison against the Tavares and they were heavily utilized in the defensive zone, too. Probably a result of the Canes not getting the last change and Muller wanting to get at least one of his stronger defenders against the Isles top line. They all played well but I think Faulk/Harrison had the better game in their own zone. Allen/Gleason seemed to give up a lot more in their own end but Faulk/Harrison were much stronger against the Islanders better players. Also, go figure that McBain ended up being a -1 in a game where he actually played well. Him and Joslin were on-ice for a lot of Carolina's chances and both seemed to be more willing to jump into the play than usual. I saw this from Joslin quite a few times.
Head-to-head at five-on-five
- Notice how I didn't say anything about our players defending Tavares well, because he and Matt Moulson outchanced everyone on the Canes. He is on fire right now and didn't cool down one bit for this game. Kyle Okpsoso also did a number on us and most of that damage came during the second period.
- The Islanders didn't have much going for them outside of the top line. The only time their second line did anything was when they were matched up against our fourth line and their third and fourth lines were outplayed by just about everyone on the Canes.
- Having a strong bottom-six is key and it was nice to have a great performance out of our fourth line for a change. Their performance head-to-head with the Isles fourth line was pretty laughable, but in a good way. Shows what having a player like LaRose can do to boost your bottom-six.
- Dalpe-Skinner-Jokinen took it to the Islanders best two-way line and their top defense pairing.
- Nodl-Sutter-Dwyer got the short end of the stick when it came to matchups and zone starts as they were put out against Tavares' line and assigned in the defensive zone for pretty much every one of their shifts. The results were predictable. They gave up chances, didn't create many but they weren't on ice for a goal against. I'll take it.
- Arguing which defense pairing played better against the Tavares line is pointless because they all performed at about the same level.