Note: We’re posting data and scoring chance analysis from each of 2012-2013 season’s games after the fact as practice for next season, when we’ll provide an even more robust breakdown of each match.
Regarding the scoring chance data I tracked from the game on 4/21/13 between the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning, checking my work against that of Corey Sznajder from Shutdown Line (who has been doing this much longer than I have) I seem to be a bit more generous in awarding scoring chances, which is something I’ll work on over time.
As for the data itself, this game was a classic instance of an “ugly win” for the Hurricanes as the Bolts managed to dominate the scoring chance count substantially and still find a way to lose. Every single player who took the ice for the Lightning managed a positive scoring chance differential in this game, which is simply astounding considering how much this team has struggled this year. It is unfortunate the ‘Canes will not remain a division foe in the future because the Lightning have truly manhandled them this season, and did so again here despite the end result.
For what seems like the first (and perhaps only) time, the defensive pairing of Matt Carle and Eric Brewer played with skill, patience, and chemistry, leading clean breakouts and oftentimes pinning the Canes in their own zone. While personally I am not a believer that this pairing can find this type of success consistently, at least for one night they played like a formidable second pairing behind Hedman/Salo, dominating the bottom-6 for Carolina all night long. I had Brewer at +10/-3 in even strength scoring chances and Carle at +11/-4.
It certainly didn’t help the Canes’ cause that they scored just 15 seconds into the game, on their first scoring chance — followed by Tlusty scoring again on their sixth, barely halfway into the first period — because score effects likely played a part in the way the game was played the rest of the way, contributing to the lopsided data. But it isn’t as if this was an evenly played game as far as the eyeball test is concerned. The Lightning were the better team in all three periods and simply ran into some bad luck to end up on the losing side despite strong effort and execution.
The Canes didn’t manage a single player with a positive scoring chance differential, and in fact had 5 total players that failed to record a scoring chance in Carolina’s favor while they were on the ice (former Bolt Tim Wallace, Patrick Dwyer, Riley Nash, Chad LaRose, and Nicolas Blanchard). This means that almost the entire bottom-six for Carolina was completely shut out as far as scoring chances are concerned. The Bolts succeeded in making the Canes a one-dimensional team and a fairly easy squad to defend.
Deserving acknowledgement are Josh Weissbock (for authoring the application used to track scoring chances), Time on Ice (for making shot attempt and zone start data accessible via script), Nice Time on Ice (for providing the link to run the scripts) and the National Hockey League (for all other data).