There are a few games which we can point to as the low point of the Hurricanes season and last night's game where they lost 4-1 to Florida might be at the top of the list. Not only did they get blown out at home, but they also gave up 25 scoring chances to a team that was missing a few key players and has been sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference for the majority of the season. Chalk it up to tired players, lack of effort or whatever you want to call it, but in the words of Homer Simpson, the Hurricanes "just plain sucked' last night and there isn't much else to say.
I'm going to make this brief because I'm sure many people want to forget about this game as soon as possible.
Florida Panthers at Carolina Hurricanes 3/19/13
It's kind of amazing that this game stayed tied for as long as it did because Florida outplayed Carolina for the majority of the first two periods and were able to pull away thanks to an advantage in special teams. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, performances like this can NOT happen against a team in as bad of shape as the Panthers are right now. I give credit to Florida because they played a great game, but the Hurricanes defense made things easy for them by constantly giving up the blue-line, surrendering breakaway chances and losing puck battles. Despite the Hurricanes scoring only one goal, I think the chart above shows that defense is a far bigger issue for them. Dan Ellis isn't going to bail this team out of every tough game, so they will need to tighten up in a bad way, which is going to be very difficult with Justin Faulk out of the lineup for the next two weeks.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Adam Hall +6
Worst EV Forwards: Jeff SKinner & Jordan Staal -4
Best EV Defenseman: Tim Gleason +5
Worst EV Defenseman: Joni Pitkanen -9
In a complete reversal from the last two games, the Hurricanes got a strong game out of their bottom-six against Florida but their top forwards all struggled. Adam Hall was the team's best forward and he played barely over 10 minutes while both Staal brothers had very tough games. I don't know if they were laboring after playing so many minutes in the last 48 hours, but they were not up to standard for whatever reason. As good as Hall was, it is never a good sign when the fourth line is one of your team's only bright spots.
Here you can see how much damage Faulk's absence did. The Hurricanes were getting the better of scoring chances when he was in the lineup, but his injury forced Jamie McBain & Joni Pitkanen to play more minutes, which resulted in a complete disaster. Pitkanen was Jack Johnson-bad last night as he let Florida's second line run all over him whenever he was on the ice. McBain also had some struggles and he was nearly responsible for giving up a breakaway chance to Tomas Fleischmann but he badly missed the net. Thankfully, games like this for Pitkanen are rare.
The Hurricanes are going to need someone to fill in for Faulk's minutes these next couple of weeks and based on last night's game, Tim Gleason may have at least earned himself a look. He was protected matchup-wise, but he did a fine job of limiting Florida's chances and has experience playing tough matchups in the past. His only miscue was getting his wires crossed with Bobby Sanguinetti on Fleischmann's goal and the error was more on Sanguientti than him.
Panthers Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Marcel Goc +5
Worst EV Forward: Mike Santorelli -5
Best EV Defenseman: Brian Campbell +8
Worst EV Defenseman: TJ Brennan -5
Just about all of Florida's top players won the scoring chance battle against Carolina's top two lines and that's what ultimately won them the game. Their depth forwards and third defense pairing were spanked, but having another team's fourth line beat you isn't that bad in the grand scheme of things. Brian Campbell also had a hell of a game carrying this team offensively. He has been a menace to the Hurricanes this season and I'm sure they are glad they won't have to deal with him again.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
Goc's line ended up winning their matchup against Eric Staal and Jordan's line could not drive the play against anything Florida put in the way of them. The only matchup the Hurricanes did win was their fourth line against Florida's and that's not going to win you a lot of games. Not when your top-six can't drive the play and your second defense pairing takes this kind of damage from the opposition's third line. This is the type of game you want to throw away and forget about, but the Hurricanes have had way too many of these as of late. It's time to turn it around.
|3||FLA||12:22||Fleischmann - GOAL||11||53||39||6||24||31||57||82||14||23||51||35||5v5|
|3||FLA||7:13||Goc - GOAL||11||6||25||31||57||82||14||17||51||35||3v5|
|3||FLA||6:09||Matthias - GOAL||21||36||4||6||31||11||15||88||17||51||35||4v5|
|3||CAR||2:33||J Staal - GOAL||11||12||53||4||25||31||57||82||17||44||35||5v4|