December 09 2013 02:35PM
The easy thing to do would be to copy and paste our gameday thread from the last game against Carolina. Has much changed between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Carolina Hurricanes of eight days ago? No. Unfortunately, that was a Sunday matinee game and neither Dimitri nor I got up on time to write a game thread, so it looks like I'll actually have to go through media guides to figure out who the heck is on this damn team.
First things first: the Hurricanes, aesthetically, made an excellent sweater change this summer. Particularly for the road jerseys. They ditched the red piping and the hurricane flag striping on the tail of the jersey and went back to a more traditional design, with a thick red shoulder yoke that eats up the name plate and a sharp, simplified striping pattern. I'm not a huge fan of the home jerseys because they look so darn red, but the road jerseys are excellent with the black accents.
Hey, screw you. I cheer for teams based on what they wear.
Puck Drop: 7:00 p.m. PST
Radio: Mr. Team
With their win last night, the Canucks are 17-10-5, up to fourth in the Pacific Division and two points clear of those worthless, scumbag Phoenix Coyotes. The Hurricanes are 13-12-5, good for third in the Metropolitan Division. What? That doesn't make any sense! Oh well.
See, one of the unintended consequences of the balanced schedule this year (and it's excellent, since Jeff Skinner played his last game in Vancouver back on October 17, 2010, before he had even scored his first NHL goal. He's been one of the best goal scorers in the league, when healthy, since) is that the gap between the Western and Eastern Conferences is so much more apparent.
In games against the Eastern Conference, the West has an 82-game points pace of 109.5, which would win the Presidents' Trophy some years, and the East has an 82-game points pace of 74.1, which would put a team in the draft lottery. The differences are wild.
Caroline are the fourth worst team in the league in puck-possession, although to their credit, they won the possession battle against a tough San Jose team their last time out. Jeff Skinner was named as the first star of the week after a five-goal, six-point week that saw the Canes go 3-0. It's not all bad in Canesland. They could be limping along without Alex Semin, but they seem to be doing fine with him on the injured reserve, at least lately.
Who do they even have for them today? Lineup via Daily Faceoff:
I guess we could characterize this game as Manny Malhotra's return to Vancouver. He's been doing great in Carolina, winning 61.3% of faceoffs from primarily the defensive zone. It's the same role he played in 2010-2011, when he became the first player to really take the overwhelming hit on defensive zone faceoffs at great cost to his offensive production and his minutes. In turn, that's freed up Eric Staal, who has a fairly extreme offensive zone start rate at 62.1%. Eric is the team's points leader, while that second line with brother Jordan and Nathan Gerbe are the best at controlling shots.
Certainly on paper, the Hurricanes look like a balanced team that should be doing much, much, better. Then you get to the defence. The top four has been okay. Ron Hainsey has come in and led the group in Corsi despite being a late-offseason addition, which should give you some indication of just how much the group needed to improve. They've failed to find anybody in the bottom six that can't get crushed in puck-possession (hey, maybe Mike Komisarek was legit!) and despite the addition of Gerbe, have very little depth up front.
THE NUMBERS GAME
|Corsi Close %||47.8% (24th)||52.7% (8th)|
|5v5 GF/60||1.91 (23rd)||2.43 (8th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.25 (19th)||2.20 (17th)|
|PDO||99.4 (21st)||99.9 (16th)|
|5v4 GF/60||4.41 (27th)||4.46 (26th)|
|5v4 SF/60||45.9 (25th)||65.0 (2nd)|
|4v5 GA/60||6.45 (19th)||3.38 (1st)|
|4v5 SA/60||52.8 (17th)||43.6 (4th)|
|Penalty Differential||+7 (5th)||+1 (13th)|
So despite being a good puck-possession squad a year ago, they've faltered close to the bottom of the NHL. Here's an interesting piece at Shutdown Line if you want to know a little more.
Hurricane of Action: $1 pays out $3.50 if the Canucks and Hurricanes combine for over 5.5 goals and the Canucks win. Carolina strikes me as a high-event team, but they're 23rd in 5-on-5 scoring.
Ryan the Rockstar: $1 pays out $3.25 if Ryan Kesler scores a goal and the Canucks win. For that, the thing you should absolutely not do is check to see how Kesler has performed against the Hurricanes in the past, since that would be including games from 2007, which can not possibly factor into tonight.
*Don't forget to sign up with the Canucks Army promo code "CANUCKSARMY" to receive $25 worth of free bets.