If you're willing to dig deep and find out what is wrong with the Carolina Hurricanes right now then I commend you because I've tried to break things down several times and have yet to come to an answer. I was willing to write off the Tampa Bay game as a bad night but in the last three games, we've seen this team play well for maybe one period and then let the opponents dictate the play for the rest of the game. The most frustrating thing about it is that the Hurricanes haven't just "lost a step" after first periods, they get completely run over. This was the case against the Rangers on Monday night and last night in their 4-1 loss to the Devils.
The Hurricanes started off strong despite falling behind 1-0 on a fluke goal and then went on a complete free fall after the first period. Recording only seven total shots in four minutes of play and only three scoring chances isn't going to win you a ton of games and neither is playing only 20 minutes of good hockey.
New Jersey Devils at Carolina Hurricanes 3/21/13
This illustrates what I said in the introduction. The Hurricanes came out with a lot of jump, executed their game plan well and had a big territorial advantage over the Devils in the first period. Then it all craters and they produced only three combined chances in 40 minutes of play. Blame the defense and the goaltending all you want, but this kind of offensive production simply is not going to get it done. The Devils adjusted well to the Hurricanes forecheck and the Canes just abandoned what was working so well for them in the first period. They reverted to dumping-and-chasing numerous times, which is useless against Brodeur, and missing the net completely whenever they got in position to create scoring chances. The Devils completely outworked them the rest of the way and coasted to an easy 4-1 win. We all know that this team can do better, which makes performances like this even more frustrating than usual.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Jiri Tlusty, Tim Brent & Jeff Skinner +2
Worst EV Forward: Eric Staal -4
Best EV Defensemen: Jamie McBain, Tim Gleason, Joni Pitkanen, Jay Harrison -1
Worst EV Defenseman: Bobby Sanguinetti -4
Jeff Skinner was really the only Carolina forward who played a great game last night. He was responsible for five of the 12 scoring chances and all five he was on-ice for. Jiri Tlusty also played a solid game despite switching lines after the third period. You could argue that he gave Riley Nash's line a bit of a spark since he helped create a few chances when he was placed there.
Carolina's inability to create scoring chances last night all relates to their top players having bad games. They were able to gain the zone numerous times but whenever they had a chance to produce offense, their shots either missed the net or they were trying to be too fancy and had their passes broken up. Muller tried to go front-heavy by putting the Staals on a line with Alex Semin and it did not work out at all. That line produced no scoring chances when they were together and gave up three in their own end. One period isn't enough to close the book on an experiment, but I won't be complaining if they aren't on the same line again for while.
This was a bad night for the entire defense corps. Jamie McBain was trusted with a ton of minutes at even strength with Justin Faulk out of the lineup and he was on-ice for a team-high five chances against. His two-way play wasn't great but it was stronger than the majority of the defense corps as most of the blue-liners struggled to create offense. The defense were the ones dumping pucks in on over 70% of their zone entries, which explains why they weren't able to create much offense. That style of play does not work against New Jersey, especially when you're playing from behind.
Devils Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Steve Bernier +4
Worst EV Forward: Adam Henrique -3
Best EV Defenseman: Bryce Salvador +4
Worst EV Defenseman: Anton Volchenkov -3
Muller tried to give the first line an advantage by putting them out against the Devils third line numerous times but they ended up losing that matchup. Making things worse, Elias' line also took care of the Staal line at even strength, which was the matchup DeBoer wanted and it paved the way for the Devils getting an easy victory. You'd think the Hurricanes would be able to take advantage of a favorable matchup against Bryce Salvador and Marek Zidlicky but that wasn't happening either. Just a terrible performance by the guys who are supposed to be Carolina's best players.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
Carolin'a top line wasn't able to create much offense against the Devils third line, but that trio actually did mos tof their damage against the Jokinen-Nash-Bowman line, which has had a rough few games. The interesting thing here is that the Hurricanes were able to contain Kovalchuk's line for most of the game but the rest of the Devils forward corps had their way with them. That's what happens when you have only two or three forwards creating most of your offense.
|2||NJ||7:08||Henrique - GOAL||11||53||39||6||44||31||14||21||17||5||6||30||5v5|
|2||NJ||6:23||Harrold - GOAL||12||28||24||44||31||19||26||6||10||30||4v4|
|3||NJ||3:06||Loktionov - GOAL||20||53||6||44||31||19||21||18||17||10||30||4v5|