Found October 14, 2013 on Shutdown Line:
We're only six games into the season, but there are already some signs of major concern in Raleigh, as the Hurricanes dropped a 5-3 decision the Phoenix Coyotes yesterday. Not only did the Canes lose their third game of the last four, they did it while getting grossly outplayed at even strength and looking outmatched by a team who they probably should have matched up better against. Couple that with back-up goaltender Anton Khudobin suffering an injury and the first line looking lost, and there are many Caniacs beginning to hit the panic button. I won't try to sugar coat it, the Hurricanes played a lousy game tonight and this is the third time this week where I can say that. They looked unprepared in the first period and paid for it by giving up an early goal and were forced to play an uphill battle the rest of the afternoon. There were definitely some encouraging moments, but this was far from a 60-minute effort and it's really frustrating to see this team continually get crushed during 5v5 play after how good they were in this department last year. Granted, they've gone up against some good teams early on in the year (LA, Phoenix, Detroit & Pittsburgh are among the best in the league at 5v5 territorial play), but the fact that the Canes are losing the battle at even strength against these clubs so badly is a little troubling, especially long-term. How worried should everyone be, though? It's only six games after all and what we're seeing now could be very different a few months from now, but slow starts are something that have crippled the Canes in past years and they need to be careful not to go down that road again. The personnel may have changed, but we're seeing the same old bad habits that have been around for years (penalties, bad special teams, etc.) and this loss to Phoenix really showcased all of those flaws. Fenwick Timeline from Extra Skater The Coyotes dominated out of the gate and while the Hurricanes did get some pressure towards the end of the first period, Phoenix still maintained control of the territorial play. Considering that the Hurricanes had nearly 10 minutes of power play time, that is pretty bad. You can still win or earn a point in games where you have good special teams (see the Detroit & LA games), but it's pretty much impossible to do that if your special teams are as bad as Carolina's were yesterday. A little under half of this game was played at five-on-five, so it could be an anomaly in the big picture, but the Hurricanes still looked bad in all phases of this game regardless of the situation. Scoring Chances Period Total 5v5 PP 5v3 SH 3v5 4v4 1 3 7 2 5 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 10 7 7 7 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 5 5 2 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 Totals 18 19 11 14 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 Despite getting so many power play opportunities, the Hurricanes were still outchanced overall and the fact that they only scored on one of nine chances just adds salt to the wound. They were creating chances, but not as much as they should have while the Coyotes scored two power play goals. The only encouraging thing I can dig out of this game is that the scoring chances weren't nearly as lopsided as the 5v5 shot totals indicate (26-17) but this goes back to what I said after the Los Angeles game. Like the Kings, the Coyotes may have not outchanced Carolina by a wide margin, but they were bottling them up in the neutral zone and preventing them from getting a lot of offensive pressure, especially in the first and third periods. During those times, the only time Caroilna could create any offense was when they were on the power play and they didn't do much there either. Phoenix winning the possession battle ended up paying off for them in the end. Hurricanes Individual Scoring Chances # Player 5v5 PP SH 4v4 4 Andrej Sekera 15:21 3 5 4:35 3 0 2:33 0 0   0 1 7 Ryan Murphy 16:00 6 5 2:45 1 0 0:00 0 0   2 0 11 Jordan Staal 12:50 1 2 3:35 1 0 2:01 0 4   0 0 12 Eric Staal  12:50 4 8 6:44 4 0 0:26 0 0   2 0 14 Nathan Gerbe 12:46 1 3 3:27 1 0 1:36 0 0   0 0 15 Tuomo Ruutu 7:23 4 2 2:46 3 0 0:19 0 2   0 0 18 Radek Dvorak 11:08 4 2 2:22 2 0 0:13 0 0   0 0 19 Jiri Tlusty 8:32 3 5 3:33 2 0 0:00 0 0   0 0 20 Riley Nash 11:20 4 2 0:14 0 0 1:31 0 0   0 1 21 Drayson Bowman 5:28 2 2 1:25 0 0 0:00 0 0   0 0 27 Justin Faulk 19:26 3 5 5:17 2 0 2:27 0 0   0 1 28 Alexander Semin 15:02 3 8 5:58 3 0 0:26 0 0   1 0 39 Patrick Dwyer 10:53 1 2 0:13 0 0 2:37 0 2   0 0 42 Brett Sutter 7:31 2 4 0:00 0 0 1:08 0 0   0 0 44 Jay Harrison 13:00 5 4 0:11 0 0 0:00 0 0   1 0 53 Jeff Skinner  13:40 4 2 5:38 3 0 0:00 0 0   1 1 65 Ron Hainsey 14:38 3 5 0:40 0 0 2:54 0 4   1 0 73 Brett Bellemore 10:18 2 4 0:09 0 0 2:48 0 4   0 0 30 Cam Ward 20:13 6 5 5:47 5 0 2:44 0 2   1 1 Best EV Forwards: Jeff Skinner, Tuomo Ruutu, Riley Nash & Radek Dvorak +2 Worst EV Forward: Alex Semin -5 Best EV Defensemen: Ryan Murphy & Jay Harrison +1 Worst EV Defensemen: Andrej Sekera, Justin Faulk, Brett Bellemore & Ron Hainsey -2 If Thursday night's game was classified as a "team win" then I guess this one can go down as a "team loss" because just about everyone playing an important role had a pretty bad game all-around. The first line in particular really struggled. They produced a goal but their defensive play negated any advantage they might have given the Hurricanes. Muller tried to shake things up by using Skinner & Ruutu on this line late in the game but it was really too late at that point and the experiment only lasted a few shifts. Although, I wouldn't be surprised to see it continue next game. Some tweaking needs to be done because this lines plays too many minutes to be this bad defensively. One would think that Tuomo Ruutu could be next in line to replace Tlusty and while I would be in favor of that, the coaching staff seems to want to ease him into action for now. He made a pretty big impact with limited ice time, though and him playing a bigger role could go a long way to helping the Hurricanes. We know he can work with Eric Staal and is versatile enough to play all three positions, so now it's all a matter of waiting for him to get back to full speed. The second line was pretty much a non-factor for most of the afternoon. They had one chance, which was Jordan Staal's bid that went off the goal-post, and were good enough defensively but were also routinely stuck in their own zone for too much. It's uncharacteristic for that to happen to this line, so that should tell you how bad the team played as a whole.  Although, one player who did stand out was Jeff Skinner, who got his second goal in as many games and was the Hurricanes catalyst offensively. He's still on the third line but Muller wasn't afraid to give him more ice time and use him on a bigger line if need be. He's getting favorable matchups in a third line role, so ti's not too surprising to see him produce, but I think he should be promoted to a bigger role soon, seeing how the Hurricanes top-six needs to start producing more.  The play of Ryan Murphy was another small positive from this game, as he looked a lot more comfortable with the puck and his decision-making was much better than it was in his first four games. Murphy's passing and creativity with the puck really makes him dangerous in the offensive zone and we saw plenty of that yesterday. Unfortunately, he was also on the ice for five chances against while playing a third pairing role and the big minute guys didn't do enough to make up for it. Both Hainsey & Bellemore had rough games, which is disappointing after how well they played on Friday night. Coyotes Individual Scoring Chances # Player 5v5 PP SH 4v4 3 Keith Yandle 18:45 5 6 1:49 2 0 0:15 0 0   1 1 4 Zbynek Michalek 18:20 5 6 0:15 0 0 5:55 0 4   0 1 6 David Schlemko 10:04 4 1 0:19 2 0 3:01 0 1   0 0 11 Martin Hanzal 16:40 2 2 2:44 0 0 1:35 0 0   1 0 12 Paul Bissonnette 3:56 2 0 0:00 0 0 0:00 0 0   0 0 17 Radim Vrbata 16:26 2 2 3:22 2 0 0:23 0 0   1 1 18 David Moss 10:19 5 6 0:22 0 0 5:21 0 4   0 0 19 Shane Doan 14:09 5 3 2:21 4 0 0:06 0 0   0 1 23 Oliver Ekman-Larsson 15:40 5 4 3:37 2 0 6:24 0 4   0 1 24 Kyle Chipchura 7:23 2 4 0:07 0 0 0:46 0 0   0 0 26 Michael Stone 11:14 6 0 2:33 0 0 1:14 0 1   0 0 28 Lauri Korpikoski 9:02 5 3 0:15 0 0 4:02 0 0   0 0 34 Tim Kennedy 4:46 2 2 0:00 0 0 0:00 0 0   0 0 36 Rob Klinkhammer 9:30 4 4 0:00 0 0 1:03 0 0   0 0 50 Antoine Vermette 12:14 5 2 1:31 2 0 3:44 0 5   0 1 53 Derek Morris 15:37 3 5 1:44 2 0 2:55 0 0   1 1 63 Mike Ribeiro 12:51 5 2 3:37 2 0 0:09 0 0   0 1 89 Mikkel Boedker  12:33 3 3 1:44 2 0 0:39 0 0   0 0 41 Mike Smith  44:47 14 11 5:21 4 0 9:52 0 5   1 2 Best EV Forwards: Antoine Vermette & Mike Ribeiro +3 Worst EV Forward: Kyle Chipchura -2 Best EV Defenseman: Michael Stone +6 Worst EV Defenseman: Derek Morris -2 Kyle Chipchura was the only Phoenix forward who did not have a positive shot attempt differential during five-on-five play, which shows how well the Coyotes played as a whole. Both Vermette & Riberio's lines especially had their way with the Hurricanes, although the chances don't reflect it that much.  Head-to-head at five-on-five Phoenix's top-six won the head-to-head matchup against Carolina's and had no trouble against their top-two defense pairings either. Nash's line was the only one that had something going for them and Muller tried to keep them away from Phoenix's better forwards for the most part. The same goes for Harrison/Murphy who were matched up with Phoenix's third and fourth lines. You can also see that Eric Staal's line was completely shut down by Oliver Ekman-Larsson & Zbynek Michalek. 5v5 Zone Entries Hurricanes Player # of entries Shots generated Carry-ins Shots generated Dump-ins Shots generated Failed Entries Sekera 2 0 1 0 1 0 0 Murphy 5 3 2 1 3 2 1 J. Staal 4 1 4 1 0 0 1 E. Staal 4 3 4 3 0 0 2 Gerbe 3 1 1 1 2 0 1 Ruutu 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Dvorak 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 Tlusty 3 1 0 0 3 1 0 Nash 2 0 0 0 2 0 1 Bowman 2 2 1 2 1 0 0 Faulk 8 3 2 1 6 2 0 Semin 2 2 2 2 0 0 1 Dwyer 3 0 1 0 2 0 0 Sutter 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Harrison 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 Skinner 4 2 3 2 1 0 2 Hainsey 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 Bellemore 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 Team 47 18 21 13 26 5 10 Neutral zone play is one area that Eric Staal has performed well in so far and he led most of the rushes into the zone yesterday. His overall performance was unimpressive, but the offense should come around for Staal in due time. I'm not sure if I can say the same for Tlusty & Semin, though since they look like passenger's goign by their performance in the neutral zone. Semin hasn't been that bad, but having only two entries is weak by his standards. Outside of the Staal brothers, Carolina reverted to dump-and-chase play again and it didn't work out at all. They were beaten to pucks and generally outworked by the Coyotes. Muller preaches this kind of play, but I'm not sure if it will lead to much success if the Canes continue to create little to no offense off dump-ins. Coyotes Player # of entries Shots generated Carry-ins Shots generated Dump-ins Shots generated Failed Entries Yandle 5 1 3 1 2 0 0 Michalek 3 1 1 0 2 1 0 Schlemko 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Hanzal 7 3 3 2 4 1 0 Bissonnette 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 Vrbata 4 3 1 1 3 2 1 Moss 3 3 2 2 1 1 0 Doan 5 4 2 2 3 2 1 Ekman-Larsson 3 1 1 1 2 0 1 Chipchura 3 5 2 5 1 0 0 Stone 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Korpikoski 2 0 0 0 2 0 1 Kennedy 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Klinkhammer 4 5 1 1 3 4 1 Vermette 4 3 2 2 2 1 0 Morris 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 Ribeiro 2 2 0 0 2 2 2 Boedker 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 Team 49 33 19 18 30 15 7 More evidence that the Canes were out-worked? Phoenix dumped the puck in a lot and still managed to create .5 shot attempts off uncontrolled entries. This doesn't speak well about the Canes play away from the puck or along the boards. There are some teams who the Canes have contained in the neutral zone but both the Kings & Coyotes really took it to them in this aspect of the game.  5v5 Zone Entries Hurricanes # Player Pos. Touches Carry Pass Other Turnover Icing 4 Andrej Sekera D 13 2 0 0 0 1 7 Ryan Murphy D 27 3 3 1 1 0 11 Jordan Staal C 4 0 0 0 0 0 12 Eric Staal C 6 0 1 0 2 0 14 Nathan Gerbe LW 7 2 1 0 1 0 15 Tuomo Ruutu LW 1 0 0 0 0 0 18 Radek Dvorak RW 5 1 1 0 0 0 19 Jiri Tlusty RW 7 1 1 0 0 0 20 Riley Nash LW 8 3 0 0 1 0 21 Drayson Bowman RW 2 1 0 0 0 0 27 Justin Faulk D 24 1 3 1 3 0 28 Alexander Semin RW 6 1 1 0 1 0 39 Patrick Dwyer RW 5 0 1 0 0 0 42 Brett Sutter LW 0 0 0 0 0 0 44 Jay Harrison D 20 0 1 0 0 0 53 Jeff Skinner C 5 1 0 0 0 0 65 Ron Hainsey D 14 0 3 0 1 0 73 Brett Bellemore D 9 0 1 0 1 0 Murphy played a lot of minutes and as a result, he got more chances to handle the puck and his zone exit performance was fairly impressive. It didn't lead to the Canes doing much in terms of territorial play, but they did create some chances off his rushes and he is starting to make more of an impact offensively. Ron Hainsey is also slowly getting better at breakouts and Faulk's performance was a slight step up from Friday night's game. Coyotes # Player Pos. Touches Carry Pass Other Turnover Icing 3 Keith Yandle D 20 2 3 0 0 1 4 Zbynek Michalek D 22 0 5 1 2 0 6 David Schlemko D 7 0 1 0 0 0 11 Martin Hanzal C 6 1 0 0 1 0 12 Paul Bissonnette L 2 1 0 0 0 0 17 Radim Vrbata R 5 0 2 0 0 0 18 David Moss R 3 1 1 0 0 0 19 Shane Doan R 6 0 1 0 0 0 23 Oliver Ekman-Larsson D 19 2 5 1 0 0 24 Kyle Chipchura C 7 1 0 0 1 0 26 Michael Stone D 5 0 1 0 0 0 28 Lauri Korpikoski L 4 1 1 0 0 0 34 Tim Kennedy L 3 0 1 0 0 0 36 Rob Klinkhammer C 4 3 0 0 0 0 50 Antoine Vermette C 2 0 0 0 0 0 53 Derek Morris D 19 0 1 1 3 2 63 Mike Ribeiro C 4 1 1 0 0 0 89 Mikkel Boedker L 3 0 2 0 0 0 Most would expect Keith Yandle to dominate this part of the game, since he is the best puck-moving defenseman west of the Mississippi, but it was actually young Ekman-Larsson who shined here. He advanced the play on a little under hal fo his attempts and did not committ any turnovers, which is a big reason why he was able to shut down the Hurricanes top line. The puck was rarely in Phoenix's zone when he was on the ice. His partner, Zbynek Michalek, was also very solid at advancing the puck which was a little surprising to me since he isn't known for that.
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