Since this is a little delayed, I figured that I should try out a new experiment with my statistical recaps instead of just going over the scoring chances. I usually track those every game and present them here to show who had the edge in the territorial battle, but that's only one part of what I've been tracking all season. One goal that hockey statisticians have aimed to accomplish for years is to quantify every part of the game and while doing that here is feasibly impossible (only so much work one person can do), there's a lot of information that I chart down during games but I don't share a lot of in my recaps because there is a lot of stuff I can't track live. School reasons kept me from watching this game, so I was able to get everything tracked for this game and will share it with you all after the jump.
As for the game itself, it was yet another loss and the Hurricanes were overpowered by a superior Penguins team. They actually managed to hang tough with them for most of the game and took the lead in the third period, but the Pens were able to get a couple of quick goals and coast away with the win. This was far from the Hurricanes worst performance of the losing streak but they were clearly not the better team and deserved the loss. Not much else to say about this one, but I'll let the numbers do the talking.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Carolina Hurricanes 4/9/13
Justin Peters took a lot of heat for this loss, but the problem wasn't so much his play but rather that the team tried to rely on him to steal this game. At this point, we know what Peters is, a replacement level goalie and maybe a back-up at best, i.e. someone who the Hurricanes shouldn't rely on to steal games for them. Which is why I was more concerned with how the team in front of him played rather than Peters himself. It's unfortunate because the Hurricanes may have been able to get away with at least a point last night had he played better. They were able to get a couple of soft goals by Marc-Andre Fleury, got a rare goal from their third line and even made quick work of their one powerplay opportunity to give them a slight advantage. Alas, the Pens were the better team and made sure that the Canes didn't come away with anything.
It was another one of those games where the Hurricanes were able to establish possession and zone time but couldn't do anything with it. They even struggled to get shot attempts away when they were in Pittsburgh's end while the Pens seemed to have no trouble generating chances. The first line was very hesitant to pull the trigger when they had a play set up, so this likely had something to do with it, and this was far from their best game.
Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Jordan Staal & Chad LaRose +1
Worst EV Forward: Alexander Semin -6
Best EV Defenseman: Jamie McBain +1
Worst EV Defenseman: Justin Faulk -4
Rough night for the entire first line and an especially bad night for Alexander Semin. He was guilty of a bad pass in the neutral zone that led to Pittsburgh getting the game-winning goal and he had a bad night defensively overall. I actually thought he was one of the team's more active offensive players and could have had more chances, but he was a little too hesitant at times. Instead of just firing at the net, he passed on open shots and waited for a shooting lane to get open while there were forwards crashing the net. I know he isn't at 100% right now and that might be why he struggled, although his linemates also didn't have great performances either.
On a slightly more positive note, I thought the second line of Jordan Staal, Zac Dalpe and Jeff Skinner had another solid game even though they didn't get rewarded for it. When your line manages to come out in the black while the rest of the team did not, then you're doing something right. Skinner was the main catalyst of this line, as he was the one leading most of their rushes while Dalpe also had a couple of good quality chances.
The rest of the forward corps didn't have great nights, although I thought the "third line" of Ruutu, LaRose and Nash had a few good shifts, one of which produced a goal in the third period. The fourth line, however, was basically non-existent and Brent getting knocked out of the game didn't help matters.
Justin Faulk made his return to the lineup and we saw some new defense pairings with him being used with Tim Gleason. These two could possibly be the first pairing of the future but they had a rough showing last night. They lost the scoring chance battle and Faulk didn't look good on the Pens first or fourth goals. Although, the former happened after Gleason turned the puck over so he was put in a bad spot.
Another new pairing we saw was Joe Corvo with Jay Harrison, who were destroyed territorially but didn't have that bad of a showing in terms of scoring chances. Jamie McBain and Bobby Sanguinetti, on the other hand, had a very feast-or-famine type game. They created a lot of offense but gave up a ton of chances as well, two of which ended up in the back of their net.
Penguins Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Matt Cooke +4
Worst EV Forward: Jussi Jokinen -2
Best EV Defenseman: Brooks Orpik +5
Worst EV Defensemen: Robert Bortuzzo & Deryk Engelland EVEN
Most of the Pens team came out in good shape last night and they got a very good performance out of their go-to shutdown defenseman Brooks Orpik. He shut down Eric Staal's line for most of the game, which is something that a lot of teams have struggled with. The Pens fourth line also played really well and produced what was the game-tying goal in the third period. Compare that to the play of Carolina's third & fourth lines and you can see one of the reasons why they came out on top. Having good forward depth goes a long way.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
Muller didn't really have any specific forward matchups, but he made sure to get his top-six out against Pittsburgh's any chance he could. The first line spent more time against Malkin's line than I would have liked but that isn't a terrible power-vs-power matchup on most nights. On defense, he tried to shadow Malkin's line with Gleason & Faulk while the other two defense pairings were split evenly among the rest of Pittsburgh's forward corps.
The power-vs.-power approach didn't work out as Malkin got the better of Eric Staal's line and they couldn't do much of anything against the Eaton/Orpik defense pairing either. Gleason/Faulk also had a lot of trouble containing Malkin's line despite that being their main assignment. Muller may have been better off letting Jordan Staal play against Malkin since he had success against him and most of Pittsburgh's lineup.
While the first line was able to get the puck into the offensive zone a lot, they couldn't create much offense with most of their entries. This was the case for most of the forwards with the one key exception being Jeff Skinner, who seemed to be the team's best offensive contributor again. That might sound odd because he hasn't scored in awhile but I'll be damned if he isn't working hard out there and creating chances. Tim Gleason also had an unusually active game offensively.
The Pens didn't have much of an issue gaining the Hurricanes zone with control of the puck. Their first line was able to do it 13 times with Evgeni Malkin accounting for seven of them and their third line also had 13 controlled entries. The interesting thing here is that they were generating more shots off Cooke, Kennedy & Sutter's entries than they were off the first line, but this is probably because Kennedy shoots the puck every single chance he gets.
The Canes defense were not guilty of many turnovers in their own zone but they had a hell of a time trying to advance the puck. When Tim Gleason is your best player at exiting the zone, then you know there's a problem. Corvo in particular had a lot of trouble with this, turning the puck over twice.
The most glaring thing that sticks out to me here is how often Matt Niskanen was relied on to advance the puck out of his own zone. He had nearly twice as many touches as any other Pittsburgh player and manged to advance the puck with possession 23% of the time. Brooks Orpik also had a solid game in terms of moving the puck forward. If there were such a thing as the "statistical star of the game," he would get one of my votes. Brandon Sutter and Chris KUnitz also did a terrific job in their own zone last night.
|1||CAR||13:54||Corvo - GOAL||11||53||28||77||35||16||24||44||29||4v3|
|1||PIT||14:22||Bortuzzo - GOAL||12||53||28||4||24||35||27||9||14||41||44||29||5v5|
|1||PIT||6:12||Morrow - GOAL||20||22||21||6||27||35||9||10||36||4||44||29||5v5|
|3||CAR||18:01||Nash - GOAl||20||15||59||4||24||35||16||48||24||5||41||29||5v5|
|3||PIT||10:11||Bennett - GOAL||20||28||21||4||24||35||19||27||15||5||41||29||5v5|
|3||PIT||9:59||Malkin - GOAL||12||19||28||6||27||35||71||12||14||4||44||29||5v5|