Where do I begin with this game? Should I talk about how Carolina got off to a horrible start and ended up in a 3-0 hole? Maybe it would be better to start things off on a more positive note and say how the Canes scored six goals for the first time in forever and were even with the Flames in scoring chances. That sounds pretty good at first glance but not when you consider that they registered a good chunk of those chances late in the game when they were trailing the Flames. I could also try to be positive and talk about Mike Murphy's NHL debut, but Murphy wouldn't have needed to come in if Cam Ward didn't give up six goals on 32 shots. There's a lot of other things I could go on about with this game like Eric Staal's three point night, the powerplay failing on three attempts, Tomas Kaberle having one of his better games as of late or Joni Pitkanen's injury. There were just so many oddities in this game that I could talk about but I think this final statement sums things up best:
Mike Murphy played about 8 minutes tonight in relief of Cam Ward. When he entered the game it was 6-3 Flames. The Canes cut the score to 6-4, pulled the goalie and the Flames scored an empty netter to make it 7-4. Carolina scored twice then and lost 7-6 which means that Jarome Iginla's empty net goal was the game winner and Murphy was the goalie of record. So Murphy "lost" his first NHL start despite not even being on ice for the game winning goal.
This is what it's like when two teams with bad defenses face each other.
Scoring chances & more after the jump
Carolina Hurricanes at Calgary Flames 12/6/11 Scoring ChancesPeriod Totals EV PP 5v3 PP SH 5v3 SH 1 5 8 4 7 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 7 6 6 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 5 3 5 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 Totals 17 17 15 15 2 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
Carolina's chances are in red, Calgary's are in white
Ahh, scoring effects. Carolina fell behind 3-0 early in the game and spent the rest of the time playing catch-up and when that happens, you generally get these results. A lot of Carolina's scoring chances came when they were trying to rally themselves back into the game and it was working, but not enough in the end. I will say that the luck is starting to come around for this team when it comes to shooting percentages. Staal's quietly been racking up points the past week and he's now second on the team in scoring with 17 points. Save percentage is another story as Ward was chased again tonight even though a good few of the goals were not his fault. The defense played awful tonight and Brendan Morrison's second goal came off a bad bounce.
The powerplay was very bad and it's gotten to the point where I'm going to design a drinking game for it. Stay tuned.
Individual Scoring Chances# Player EV PP SH 4 Jamie McBain
16:52 6 4 2:59 1 0 0:12 0 1 5 Bryan Allen
12:39 5 5 0:15 0 0 2:25 0 0 6 Tim Gleason
15:11 5 6 0:00 0 0 0:12 0 1 12 Eric Staal
20:23 7 7 3:14 1 0 0:25 0 0 13 Anthony Stewart
7:05 1 1 1:33 0 0 0:00 0 0 15 Tuomo Ruutu
14:52 4 5 3:13 1 1 0:00 0 0 16 Brandon Sutter
14:48 4 4 0:00 0 0 2:12 0 1 19 Jiri Tlusty
15:47 4 5 0:00 0 0 0:00 0 0 23 Alexei Ponikarovsky
11:06 2 3 3:13 1 1 0:00 0 0 25 Joni Pitkanen
6:02 3 1 2:00 0 0 0:40 0 0 27 Derek Joslin
14:43 5 5 1:21 0 0 2:25 0 0 28 Justin Faulk
18:15 1 5 2:46 1 1 0:40 0 0 30 Cam Ward
41:45 11 15 6:00 2 1 3:17 0 1 36 Jussi Jokinen
14:17 2 4 2:46 1 1 0:40 0 0 37 Tim Brent
11:02 5 2 1:14 1 0 0:00 0 0 39 Patrick Dwyer
14:18 5 3 0:00 0 0 2:25 0 0 51 Tomas Kaberle
17:45 5 4 2:39 2 1 0:00 0 0 53 Jeff Skinner
16:16 7 7 2:47 1 0 0:00 0 0 59 Chad LaRose
12:35 4 4 0:00 0 0 0:52 0 1 70 Mike Murphy
8:37 4 0 0:00 0 0 0:00 0 0
Best EV Forward: Timmy Brent +3
Worst EV Forward: Jussi Jokinen -2
Best EV Defenseman: Jamie McBain & Tomas Kaberle +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Justin Faulk -4
With the Skin & Finns line reunited, Brent was chosen as a fill-in for the top line and he played one of his best games of the year. I don't know if I like him as a long-term solution but he played great tonight and earned a goal plus two points to show for it. The usual first line of Skinner, Staal & Ruutu had a mixed night as they were the team's most active offensive players but they gave up a ton of chances in the other end too. Staal was also double shifted and led forwards in ice-time by a longshot with 24:02. The next closest player was Skinner with 19:03.
Early in the game when the team was getting trampled, Sutter & Dwyer were our best players as they looked like the only ones who were forechecking or putting forth any kind of effort. They stayed pretty consistent throughout the game.
I know Jamie McBain was a minus-2 but the only goal I thought that was awful on his part was Morrison's first goal where he tried to make a defensive play and ended up turning it over to Olli Jokinen. The second Morrison goal was a flukey bounce and he was solid for the rest of the game. He did "score" a goal but they ended up giving it to Ruutu. Kaberle played a solid game and wasn't on ice for a goal against for once. He also netted two assists so maybe his luck is starting to turn around. One game doesn't excuse him for how bad he's been for the past month but he actually played well for a change and it's worth noting.
Justin Faulk had a rough game and led the team in time on ice again. I don't know if he needs a role reduction or what because I don't think sending him down is the right move. He's made some nice defensive plays but he's also made a ton of mistakes in his own zone and he's been losing the chance battle for some time now. He's known more for his offensive instincts so I don't know why the team doesn't use him more in that kind of role. Oh wait, I do know why but the player in question had a decent game so I should probably lay off.
Head-to-Head at even strength
Joni Pitkanen took a few hits and had to leave the game with a "lower body injury" so the defense pairings were jumbled around last night. Gleason and Allen couldn't slow down the Iginla line no matter who they were paired with, though. Those three were the Flames best line tonight. Stempniak-Backlund-Comeau also got us early in the game but they didn't have as big of an impact as the Iginla line did. Most of our lines were able to outchance them at the very least.
The lines were changed around a lot for Carolina as Tim Brent was put on the first line, Skin & Finns were reunited and we only had 11 forwards active for today with Andreas Nodl being a healthy scratch. Ruutu definitely played better once he was placed with Skinner & Jokinen as those three got slightly easier assignments and took advantage of it when they were on the ice. The defense pairings were also switched a little with Pitkanen leaving early but Kaberle seemed to play well as he won almost all of his matchups.
I'm not sure what we should do going forward because our top line has been good in previous games, just not scoring but Skinner-Jokinen-Ruutu has been the most successful line here this season and it would be nice to get that going again to possibly wake Jokinen up. Brent might get another look on the first line since he played well there but I don't know how that will work out. Nodl should be active again because we can not keep double shifting Staal every night. The defense pairings without Pitkanen will also be very questionable as no one in the defense corps shined in particular. Joslin was put in a bigger role tonight and saw a good amount of time against Iginla's line so he could get a chance. Faulk might see his role get reduced and might be put into an offensive role with Kaberle. McBain should stay in the lineup no matter what.
Not too much time to think about this game so let's just put it behind us and focus on Edmonton now.
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