Originally written November 03, 2013 on Shutdown Line:
So here we are again, the Hurricanes have lost five games in a row and seem to look worse after every game. Instead of showing progress, the Canes keep developing more bad habits and are digging themselves into a bigger hole with each loss. I was hoping that Monday's loss to the Penguins would be the low point of the season but the Canes haven't shown any progression since then and now find themselves stuck in a downward spiral. It doesn't matter how much Muller shakes up the lines or how much the team works on their problems during practice because it doesn't mean anything until we start to see better results. It might be only November and 14 games into the season but all of us are fed up at this point. The fans are sick of hearing about losses, I'm tired of writing about them and I'm sure the Hurricanes are ten times as frustrated as we are, especially after how last year ended. They know they need to improve and that efforts like the last five games aren't going to get the job done, but will they get out of this rut before it's too late? Only time will tell. I wish I had more answers but this team's play has gone downhill so much compared to last year and I'm not sure if they have enough depth up front or in goal to get through this stretch without falling too far out of the race. There have been other teams who turned their season around after much worse stretches (Washington, Phoenix, San Jose, etc.) but I don't have much confidence in the Hurricanes with the way they are playing right now. Fenwick Timeline from Extra Skater If this chart looks familiar, it's because this game was very similar to the Hurricanes other two losses. Their initial game plan was good and they looked strong for most of the first period. Even after Carl Hagelin made it 1-0, the Hurricanes were creating a lot of pressure and playing most of the game in New York's zone. They then flat-lined in the second period and the Rangers took over the game after Hagelin's second goal, which came after a failed power play might I add. The Hurricanes did a lot of good things in the third period, but the game was over by then and the Rangers added a couple more goals for good measure. In other words, this was pretty much a repeat of the loss against Tampa Bay only with a more lopsided score. Scoring Chances Period Total 5v5 PP 5v3 SH 3v5 4v4 1 3 5 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 3 9 0 4 3 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 9 7 9 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Totals 15 21 12 14 3 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 The Hurricanes got their only goal in the second period but that might have been the worst 20 minutes of hockey they played all season. They created no chances at even strength and allowed New York's power play to run all over them. They couldn't sustain any pressure in the offensive zone and found themselves in a 3-0 hole before they finally woke up late in the period. We've seen this movie before and I'm sure everyone is sick of the ending by now. Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances # Player 5v5 PP SH 4v4 4 Andrej Sekera 16:29 3 5 1:30 0 0 2:11 0 3   0 2 7 Ryan Murphy 18:11 6 5 2:08 3 0 0:02 0 1   0 2 11 Jordan Staal 14:24 6 4 1:30   0 1:26 0 0   0 2 12 Eric Staal  17:50 7 4 2:08 3 0 0:48 0 2   0 1 14 Nathan Gerbe 14:44 3 5 1:44 0 0 1:11 0 0   0 0 15 Tuomo Ruutu 14:30 0 7 1:41 0 0 0:06 0 0   0 0 16 Elias Lindholm 13:49 3 4 1:57 3 0 0:06 0 0   0 0 19 Jiri Tlusty 9:50 1 3 1:30 0 0 0:58 0 0   0 0 20 Riley Nash 11:23 1 2 0:00 0 0 1:32 0 1   0 0 21 Drayson Bowman 8:01 2 2 0:00 0 0 0:00 0 0   0 0 22 Manny Malhotra 10:03 2 3 0:09 2 0 1:28 0 1   0 0 27 Justin Faulk 16:43 4 6 1:10 0 0 2:33 0 3   0 1 28 Alexander Semin 16:06 8 3 2:28 3 0 0:16 0 1   0 1 39 Patrick Dwyer 13:13 2 2 0:00 0 0 0:42 0 1   0 2 42 Brett Sutter 8:15 2 3 0:00 0 0 0:00 0 0   0 0 44 Jay Harrison  15:09 3 5 0:00 0 0 0:16 0 1   0 1 65 Ron Hainsey 20:04 6 4 0:00 0 0 2:18 0 1   0 0 73 Brett Bellemore 17:10 2 3 0:00 0 0 1:56 0 1   0 0 35 Justin Peters  51:50 12 14 3:38 3 0 4:29 0 4   0 3 Best EV Forward: Alex Semin +5 Worst EV Forward: Tuomo Ruutu -7 Best EV Defenseman: Ron Hainsey +2 Worst EV Defensemen: Andrej Sekera & Justin Faulk -2 Muller stacked the deck by putting Jordan Staal on the first line with his brother and Alex Semin and while that trio didn't score, they were basically Carolina's only source of offense last night. These three accounted for 7-8 of the Hurricanes even strength scoring chances and none of the other forwards did much at all. Gerbe & the fourth line created a couple chances but it was nothing consistent and the "third line" did absolutely nothing. Loading up the first line isn't a bad idea with the Canes starving for goals, but their forward depth takes a huge hit when they go with this approach. Rangers Individual Scoring Chances # Player 5v5 PP SH 4v4 4 Michael Del Zotto 16:45 3 1 1:02 0 0 0:00 0 0   3 0 5 Dan Girardi 17:03 5 7 0:05 0 0 2:08 0 3   0 0 6 Anton Stralman 18:05 6 4 0:06 0 0 1:30 0 0   0 0 10 JT Miller 10:34 0 3 1:38 0 0 0:00 0 0   0 0 14 Taylor Pyatt 11:21 1 3 0:05 0 0 1:13 0 0   0 0 15 Derek Dorsett 12:00 5 3 0:00 0 0 0:27 0 0   0 0 16 Derick Brassard 15:19 3 3 1:30 0 0 0:00 0 0   1 0 17 John Moore 16:13 2 1 1:20 0 0 0:00 0 0   1 0 18 Marc Staal 17:48 6 4 0:10 0 0 1:30 0 0   1 0 19 Brad Richards 15:50 4 4 2:54 4 0 0:00 0 0   2 0 20 Chris Kreider 12:15 4 5 2:46 4 0 0:00 0 0   0 0 21 Derek Stepan 10:45 4 2 2:56 4 0 0:29 0 3   0 0 22 Brian Boyle 14:37 4 3 0:06 0 0 2:25 0 3   0 0 27 Ryan McDonagh 17:52 6 7 3:21 4 0 1:53 0 2   1 0 36 Mats Zuccarello 11:10 5 1 2:59 4 0 1:28 0 0   0 0 40 Brandon Mashinter 8:12 0 0 0:00 0 0 0:00 0 0   0 0 62 Carl Hagelin 16:13 8 4 0:17 0 0 1:14 0 0   2 0 67 Benoit Pouliot  13:49 4 5 1:10 0 0 0:00 0 0   1 0 30 Henrik Lundqvist  51:53 14 12 4:29 4 0 3:38 0 3   3 0 Best EV Forwards: Mats Zuccarello & Carl Hagelin +4 Worst EV Forward: JT Miller -3 Best EV Defensemen: Michael Del Zotto & Marc Staal +2 Worst EV Defenseman: Dan Girardi -2 Carl Hagelin had a field day. Despite not getting any power play time, he was on the ice for 10 total scoring chances and Vingeaul wasn't afraid to double shift him when he had the chance. He has been a possession monster since entering the NHL and the Hurricanes got a first hand look at that. No one can replace Rick Nash, but Hagelin, Zuccarello, Stepan and Brassard helped did enough to make up for the loss last night. Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five Alain Vingeault had some interesting matchups going on last night, as he used Brian Boyle's line against Staal. That line ended up losing the battle, but rest of New York's forward corps destroyed the Canes second and third lines. That's the risk you take when you decide to load up the first line, especially against a coach who likes to protect his top-six. 5v5 Zone Entries Hurricanes Player # of entries Shots generated Carry-ins Shots generated Dump-ins Shots generated Failed Entries Sekera 5 2 1 2 4 0 0 Murphy 2 1 1 1 1 0 0 J. Staal 7 6 3 3 4 3 0 E. Staal 4 3 3 3 1 0 0 Gerbe 3 1 1 1 2 0 0 Ruutu 5 1 2 1 3 0 2 Lindholm 3 0 0 0 3 0 1 Tlusty 4 2 3 2 1 0 0 Nash 3 2 1 0 2 2 1 Bowman 7 3 4 3 3 0 1 Malhotra 5 6 3 3 2 3 0 Faulk 3 3 1 3 2 0 0 Semin 4 0 2 0 2 0 0 Dwyer 4 1 3 1 1 0 0 Sutter 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 Harrison 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Hainsey 3 1 0 0 3 1 0 Bellemore 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 Team 63 32 28 23 35 9 6 How many more games of dump-and-chase play are we going to see before Muller realizes that it isn't working well? Sure, this strategy can work for some teams, but the Hurricanes don't really have the personnel to be the kind of team whose forecheck is based on puck retrieval. It was nice to see some of the guys in the bottom-six carry the puck in more, namely Malhotra & Bowman, but the rest of the team really needs to improve here. I was hoping that Eric Staal would have more zone entries since he was playing the wing here, but Jordan did most of the work in the neutral zone and was way more conservative than he usually is. Rangers Player # of entries Shots generated Carry-ins Shots generated Dump-ins Shots generated Failed Entries Del Zotto 2 2 2 2 0 0 0 Girardi 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Stralman 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 Miller 2 1 2 1 0 0 0 Pyatt 4 2 0 0 4 2 1 Dorsett 4 3 4 3 0 0 2 Brassard 6 2 2 1 4 1 0 Moore 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 Staal 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 Richards 7 4 2 1 5 3 1 Kreider 2 2 1 2 1 0 1 Stepan 2 1 1 1 1 0 0 Boyle 5 4 1 2 4 2 0 McDonagh 4 0 2 0 2 0 0 Zuccarello 4 3 2 2 2 1 1 Mashinter 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 Hagelin 7 5 7 5 0 0 1 Pouliot 2 1 1 0 1 1 1 Team 57 31 27 20 30 11 8 Stepan is going to get first star honors for his hat trick, but I thought Carl Hagelin was New York's best player and this chart reinforces that claim. He led most of NYR's zone entries and was responsible for a good chunk of their offense at even strength. Derek Dorsett also had a surprisingly good game in terms of zone entries. 5v5 Zone Exits Hurricanes # Player Pos. Touches Carry Pass Other Turnover Icing 4 Andrej Sekera D 16 0 2 0 0 0 7 Ryan Murphy D 12 3 3 0 0 1 11 Jordan Staal R 7 3 2 0 0 0 12 Eric Staal C 7 1 2 0 0 0 14 Nathan Gerbe C 6 1 1 0 1 0 15 Tuomo Ruutu C 6 2 0 0 1 0 16 Elias Lindholm R 1 0 0 0 1 0 19 Jiri Tlusty C 8 2 1 0 0 0 20 Riley Nash C 6 0 1 0 0 0 21 Drayson Bowman C 1 0 1 0 0   22 Manny Malhotra L 4 0 0 0 0 0 27 Justin Faulk D 19 1 1 1 2 0 28 Alexander Semin R 7 1 1 0 1 0 39 Patrick Dwyer R 1 0 0 0 0 0 42 Brett Sutter L 4 0 1 0 1 0 44 Jay Harrison D 10 0 3 0 1 0 65 Ron Hainsey D 25 0 5 3 1 1 73 Brett Bellemore D 16 1 1 1 2 2 Watching the Hurricanes breakouts this year has been maddening because of how inconsistent the individual performances are. Depending on the game, Faulk & Sekera are either excellent or terrible at exiting the zone and they were the latter last night. Meanwhile, Ron Hainsey was able to get the play moving in the right direction more times than not and the team's best puck-moving defenseman, Murphy, barely touched the puck in the defensive zone. Like I said, maddening. Rangers # Player Pos Touches Carry Pass Other Turnover Icing 4 Michael Del Zotto D 18 0 2 1 3 1 5 Dan Girardi D 19 0 1 1 2 1 6 Anton Stralman D 17 0 2 0 2 1 10 JT Miller C 6 2 1 0 1 0 14 Taylor Pyatt L 7 1 2 0 0 0 15 Derek Dorsett R 3 1 0 0 1 0 16 Derick Brassard C 5 2 1 0 0 0 17 John Moore D 10 0 3 1 0 0 18 Marc Staal D 20 2 1 1 0 1 19 Brad Richards C 5 2 0 0 0 1 20 Chris Kreider C 5 1 1 0 0 0 21 Derek Stepan C 5 0 0 0 1 0 22 Brian Boyle C 11 2 2 0 0 0 27 Ryan McDonagh D 23 0 1 0 3 1 36 Mats Zuccarello C 12 1 1 0 0 0 40 Brandon Mashinter L 7 2 1 0 2 0 62 Carl Hagelin L 8 0 2 0 0 0 67 Benoit Pouliot L 14 1 2 0 1 0 For a team that won 5-1 and won the battle at even strength, the Rangers breakouts sure were ugly. Granted, most of their turnovers came in the frist period and they played a large part of the game in Carolina's zone, but I still expected their results to be a lot better. Marc Staal & John Moore were their only defensemen who successfully advanced the puck more than 20% of the time and even their forwards numbers are kind of underwhelming. Their play in the other two zones made up for it, though.
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