Storm Tracking: Western Front Pushes Down on Carolina

Grant Halverson

The Hurricanes welcomed three Western Conference teams to Raleigh this week and each of them left with 2 points as a parting gift.

If you were to look at this past week's schedule beforehand, you would probably call it difficult and you would probably be happy with 4 points in 4 games. The Canes started off by traveling to last season's Southeast Division Champ, a team they were 1-4-0 against last season, and won. They then came home to play against the last two Stanley Cup Champions and a relatively hot Phoenix team. Carolina lost all 3 home games, but they did manage to earn points against Los Angeles and Chicago. Obviously there are many things that could be improved on, but the Canes weathered a small storm and now it's time for them to do some damage on the road. Here are the stats for the week of 10/9/13 through 10/15/13.

Canes Weekly Stats: 10/9 through 10/15

Players GP TOI/G G A P +/- PIM S Hits BkS GvA TkA
Jeff Skinner 4 16:13 2 2 4 2 2 17 2 0 5 3
Nathan Gerbe 4 17:53 1 2 3 -1 2 13 3 0 4 4
Eric Staal 4 22:52 1 2 3 -3 6 14 4 2 7 6
Ryan Murphy 3 18:39 0 2 2 1 0 6 1 4 3 4
Alexander Semin 4 22:04 2 0 0 -2 4 17 3 1 5 2
Justin Faulk 4 25:44 0 1 1 1 0 7 9 8 3 1
Ron Hainsey 4 20:20 1 0 1 -3 2 3 3 4 1 5
Jay Harrison 4 16:09 0 1 1 1 6 1 6 1 2 1
Elias Lindholm 2 9:22 1 0 1 E 0 2 2 0 0 0
Riley Nash 3 13:04 1 0 1 1 0 3 4 0 0 2
Tuomo Ruutu 2 13:51 0 1 1 -1 2 5 7 3 1 1
Andrej Sekera 4 23:42 0 1 1 1 4 9 3 9 2 3
Jordan Staal 4 19:32 0 1 1 E 4 6 5 0 0 3
Brett Bellemore 4 16:06 0 0 0 -4 0 2 10 5 3 3
Drayson Bowman 4 10:03 0 0 0 -1 0 3 1 1 0 0
Radek Dvorak 4 12:37 0 0 0 1 0 3 1 1 0 4
Patrick Dwyer 4 14:41 0 0 0 -1 2 10 8 4 2 3
Mike Komisarek 1 14:14 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 2 0
Brett Sutter 4 7:53 0 0 0 -2 2 0 10 0 2 2
Jiri Tlusty 4 15:40 0 0 0 -1 0 10 4 2 1 1
Kevin Westgarth 1 6:38 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1

Players GP GS W L OTL Shots Goals Allowed Saves Save % GAA
Cam Ward 3 2 0 1 2 85 6 79 0.929 2.27
Anton Khudobin 2 2 1 0 0 52 4 48 .0923 2.67

Who's Hot

  • Jeff Skinner - Skinner has arguably been the best player on the ice for the Canes so far this season. He's scoring on the PP, playing unselfish and seems to be pretty solid at both ends of the ice. He led the team in scoring this week with 4 points and is top 20 league wide. He also, along with Alexander Semin, led the team in shots on goal. But probably the biggest thing, especially after considering last season, is that Jeff was a +2 for the week and leads the team with a +5 on the season. His shooting percentage this season is at a career low, but as long as he keeps up the hard work, those shots will begin to fall. Maybe this is the beginning of Jeff Skinner taking his game to the next level and become the all-around player all of us expect him to be?
  • Justin Faulk/Andrej Sekera pairing - Instead of single out one of these guys, I decided to pair them together, as they have been much of this young season. We all know this is Carolina's top defensive pairing and they are solid at both ends of the ice. What you might not be aware of is that Faulk was only on the ice for 2 of the 10 goals the opponents scored this week and Sekera was only on the ice for 1. These guys have been playing a ton of minutes in all situations and often times going up against the opposing team's top line. They are 1 & 2 on the team in blocked shots and are also 1 & 2 in shots on goal by defensemen. They really do it all. I just hope the team's other defensemen can emulate these guys and progress as the season goes along. If so, then this defensive unit will round into form and hopefully get this team into the playoffs.
  • Ryan Murphy - I wasn't real sure if Murphy should be included, but after last night's game, he pushed his way in. Murphy still has a number of things that he needs to work on, but for the week, he was pretty solid. He did register 2 assists and even though not credited for an assist, he was instrumental in Semin's goal last night. He also was a + player for the week, registered a hit, some blocks and had more takeaways than giveaways. His defensive zone coverage still leaves a lot to be desire, but that is what you're going to get with a smaller stature player like Murphy. I'm not sure what the coaches are thinking when Tim Gleason comes back, but it might be an interesting experiment seeing him paired up with Murphy for a few games. If Gleason can truly return to form, these polar opposites might make for an interesting pairing.

Who's Not

  • Eric Staal - I have to start off with the captain here. While he did register a goal and 3 points in the 4 games, his game was quite lacking in many areas. This team needs Eric to be a go to guy consistently, especially in certain situations with the game on the line. This week, he led the team in giveaways, tied for the team lead in penalty minutes and had the worst +/- of any forward. Throw on top of that a 38.5% faceoff percentage and you see why Eric is on the Not list. If the captain has any aspirations of leading this team to the postseason, then he and Cam Ward have to step up their games and be who they should be on a nightly basis.
  • Jiri Tlusty - Tlusty is again on the list, but we have seen some improvement, just not many results yet. Tlusty had an amazing shortened season last season and while many didn't expect him to continue being as hot as he was, he was expected to produce some points. Things are just not going well for Jiri and Coach Muller is moving him around, which is probably not helping his game. He has shot a lot more this week and continues trying to play a responsible game. I believe he just needs that one shot to fall and his confidence will return. Time will tell, but maybe moving him off the top line will ease the pressure that Tlusty is putting on himself.
  • Brett Bellemore/Ron Hainsey pairing - While the Faulk/Sekera pairing has been good, this one has really not. Bellemore was solid in limited time last season and some said he was the best defenseman for the Canes in the preseason. But right now, he is looking like a guy that has struggled making a NHL squad. He is probably just being asked to do more than he is capable of on a nightly basis. He did tie for the team lead in hits for the week, but him and his partner were on the ice for 6 of the 10 goals the Canes gave up. Hainsey has been slightly better than Bellemore, but he also has a more experience. Ron contributed the tying goal last night, his first in forever, but the Canes brought him in to help provide some leadership on the blueline. Take the good from last night's game and move forward, become the stable defenseman you know you can be.

Notable Weekly Team Stats

  • The Canes increased their goal production slightly, averaging 2.25 goals per game this week. That is still well below where they have been the past 3 seasons.
  • The Canes had a league high PP opportunities with 23, but were only able to convert on 3 for a 13.0% PP. This is an area that has been a problem for a while. Maybe it's time for the coach to try something completely different, because a successful PP might have meant the difference in the Phoenix and Chicago games.
  • Carolina was #6 in the league in shots per game at 33.0, but they also allowed the 7th highest against at 34.3.
  • The Hurricanes ranked in the top 10 for the week in hits (93) and takeaways (49). But they ranked in the bottom 10 in both faceoff percentage (46.0%) and giveaways (45).
  • Team Stat of the Week - PK% - 87.5% - Good for 7th in the NHL. For a organization that has been hovering around 80% or below for the last 6 seasons, this is a big check mark, especially considering that the 4 teams we faced all have PP% at 20.0% or above. 18 opportunities and only 2 PP goals yielded (both to Phoenix) is a stark difference for this team.

Former Canes Weekly Stats: 10/9 through 10/15

Player Team GP G A P +/- PIM S Hits BkS
Joe Corvo OTT 2 0 3 3 +2 0 2 0 0
Jussi Jokinen PIT 3 0 2 2 -1 0 6 1 1
Radim Vrbata PHX 4 1 1 2 E 2 19 4 1
Craig Adams PIT 3 1 0 1 E 5 4 3 3
Bryan Allen ANA 2 0 1 1 +4 7 1 3 1
Erik Cole DAL 3 0 1 1 -2 0 3 0 1
Matt Cullen NSH 3 0 1 1 +2 0 10 0 0
Andrew Ladd WPG 4 1 0 1 E 2 7 4 1
Dennis Seidenberg BOS 3 0 1 1 +2 2 7 7 5
Ray Whitney DAL 3 0 1 1 -1 0 6 0 0
Justin Williams LAK 4 1 0 1 E 2 11 2 3
Zac Dalpe VAN 2 0 0 0 -1 0 1 1 0
Adam Hall PHI 3 0 0 0 -1 0 5 4 2
Jamie McBain BUF 3 0 0 0 -2 0 2 5 2
Brandon Sutter PIT 3 0 0 0 -1 0 3 9 2
Troy Bodie TOR 0 0 0 0 E 0 0 0 0
Ryan Carter NJD 0 0 0 0 E 0 0 0 0

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