Carolina has been a poor defensive team for the majority of this season, which makes it very surprising that two of their best defensive performances came in games where they were missing two of their top blue-liners. Those games being last week's win over Toronto and last night's 4-3 loss to Winnipeg. Carolina yielded only seven even strength scoring chances to the Jets and ten overall, which are season lows for the team an a testament to how well the defense played. The only lapse by the defense unfortunately came at the worst time when Joe Corvo made a poor play in the neutral zone which allowed the Jets to get the go-ahead goal in the third period. This mistake along with a terrible performance in net from Cam Ward are the main reasons why Carolina lost this game despite a great performance by most of the team.
This goes down as the most frustrating loss of the season but the Hurricanes injury-riddled roster did show us a lot of good things that could instill some confidence going forward.
Winnipeg Jets at Carolina Hurricanes 2/21/13
The Canes outplayed the Jets for most of the game and ran them over at even strength, doubling them out in scoring chances in the latter category. This shows how well the defense played as a whole since they were able to contain the Jets for most of the game and keep play in their zone. However, this also shows how poorly Ward played in goal, especially when you consider that two of the Jets goals weren't even scoring chances. Blake Wheeler's goal was from long distance and a bad angle while Evander Kane's goal was from way outside the faceoff dot and very stoppable.
The Hurricanes probably could have done more on the powerplay considering they had a five-on-three and they didn't produce a ton of offense at even strength, but that wasn't the reason why they lost. They still outplayed the Jets overall but just couldn't get a big save from Ward when they needed it. There's really nothing else to say.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Tim Wallace +4
Worst EV Forwards: Chad LaRose, Patrick Dwyer, Kevin Westgarth, Drayson Bowman & Alexander Semin +1
Best EV Defensemen: Jay Harrison & Ryan Murphy +5
Worst EV Defenseman: Michal Jordan +1
Just about everyone had a solid game last night, as even the team's "worst" players were above water in scoring chances. This illustrates how well the entire team played, as even the fourth liner were pitching in. The best line, however, might have been the new third line of Tim Wallace, Jussi jokinen and Andreas Nodl. These three had an excellent night territorially and provided a much-needed physical presence along with it. They had a bad shift preceding the Evander Kane goal but the positives far outweighed the negatives for them in my book.
As for the top-six, they did a fine job but the first line could have done a little better in the scoring chance department considering how much the Hurricanes were controlling things at even strength. They did produce two goals, however, so I'm willing to look past that for now. Jordan Staal's line also had a solid night but they gave up quite a few scoring chances to Andrew Ladd's line in the third period, but they managed to come away a net positive overall. I think Bowman has earned his spot on this line for at least a couple more games or until Jeff Skinner returns. He was the bright spot on the third line for awhile and really benefited from playing with a better territorial line by creating a few solid scoring chances. Still searching for that first goal, though.
It's going to be really tough to send Ryan Murphy back to Kitchener once Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason come back because the kid was phenomenal in his NHL debut. He was used in all situations, spent some time out against Winnipeg's top-six and came away as a +5 in scoring chance differential at even strength. His skating and great offensive instincts were on full display last night but he also played a very smart game, too. He knew when was the right time to jump into the rush and settled for safe plays in the neutral and offensive zone instead of trying to dangle his way around the defense. I feel that getting Pitkanen back will off-set losing Murphy but I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't impressed with what I saw from him last night.
Murphy's partner, Jay Harrison, also played very well last night and provided a nice stay at home partner to compliment Murphy's aggressive style. Having a player with a safer game like Harrison allowed Murphy to jump into the play as often as he did and he could provide a good mentor for him. Similar to what he did for Justin Faulk last year. Speaking of which, Faulk had a great game offensively but ended up being on ice for over half of the Jets scoring chances at even strength. Granted, Winnipeg didn't create much to begin with but he was on-ice for the Ladd line's explosion in the third period and the game-winning goal. Faulk wasn't at fault for that, though as most of the blame there goes to Joe Corvo, who fell down in the neutral zone and gave Blake Wheeler a breakaway chance.
Michal Jordan was the only player who didn't have a positive scoring chance differential and he played only eight minutes, so there isn't much you can determine there. Corvo probably had the least impressive night out of the entire defense corps, and he was on the "first pairing" so that ended up hurting Carolina a lot more.
Jets Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Blake Wheeler, Andrew Ladd & Bryan Little +3
Worst EV Forward: Olli Jokinen -7
Best EV Defenseman: Ron Hainsey +1
Worst EV Defenseman: Paul Postma -6
Winnipeg had basically one line working for them all game, as Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little produced three of the four Jets goals and all of their even strength scoring chances in the third period. I mentioned in my preview that there were matchups the Hurricanes could exploit in this lineup and they did just that. The problem was they couldn't contain their top line or cash in on a couple more scoring chances they produced against Winnipeg's other units. That and goaltending but I think I've buried Ward enough for one post.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
Here you see the damage done by the Ladd-Little-Wheeler line and most of that came in the third period where the Jets created about 4/5 of their total offense. After that, none of Winnipeg's lines won any of their matchups and Olli Jokinen's line took a huge beating from just about everyone the Canes sent out against them. Carolina's third line was also able to crush Winnipeg's bottom-defense pairing which has been a matchup the Canes have struggled with all year. The only defense pairing Carolina had trouble with was Bogosian-Hainsey and that was the Jets shutdown unit for most of the night, so Winnipeg was able to win some of their tough matchups while their depth struggled. That has often been a huge problem for the Hurricanes this year but the shoe was on the other foot last night.
|1||CAR||1:21||Tlusty - GOAL||12||19||28||27||77||30||18||26||16||6||44||31||5v5|
|3||CAR||16:23||J. Staal - GOAL||11||39||21||7||44||30||12||13||19||24||33||31||5v5|
|3||WPG||5:52||Ladd - GOAL||11||39||21||7||44||30||18||26||16||24||33||31||5v5|
|3||CAR||5:10||Tlusty - GOAL||12||19||29||24||27||30||12||17||9||4||44||31||5v5|
|3||WPG||4:54||Wheeler - GOAL||11||39||21||27||77||30||18||26||16||6||44||31||5v5|