Here’s Why: Game 3
The stats show that the two teams were fairly evenly matched, except in a few categories:
- Shots—Pens (40), ‘Canes (34)
- Takeaways—Pens (9), ‘Canes (9)
- Faceoffs Won—Pens (28), ‘Canes (30)
- Faceoffs Lost—Pens (30), ‘Canes (28)
Paul Maurice, coach of the ‘Canes, noted in his press conference that 41 of their shots were either attempts that were blocked or missed shots. They simply were not getting through. Eric Staal and Ray Whitney have been kept fairly quiet, and for the most part, the Penguins have methodically forced play to the boards, limiting good open ice chances. In addition, the Pens’ forecheck has become so aggressive that it forces ‘Canes defenders to back deep into their defensive zone, leaving little visibility for netminder Cam Ward who is rumored to be playing hurt. Coach Maurice downplayed it reminding inquiring minds that at this time of year, everyone plays a little hurt.
Where the Pens had the edge was in their shot distribution through periods (16/15/9) versus the ‘Canes distribution (8/8/18), showing the machine-gun work of the Pens in the first 2 periods that got them the lead they needed while keep the ‘Canes shots in the single digits. it also showed the ‘Canes 3rd period desperation as they tried to rally something.
A surprising statistic is in the Hits department where the ‘Canes dominated, laying on 40 hits to the Penguins’ 24. Erik Cole led the way with 7 hits, followed by Patrick Eaves and Dennis Seidenberg with 5 each. Matt Cooke took first place honors with 5 hits, followed by Philippe Boucher and Ruslan Fedotenko with 3 each; another 6 Penguins put in their two hits’ worth. Another critical factor is that the Penguins’ power play continues to improve as they scored on two of four man-advantage opportunities for 50% in the game, scoring twice on four shots.
Brothers’ Keeper: The Staal Tracker
The brothers Staal continue to fight to cancel each other out, and the effect is more devastating on the ‘Canes side because Eric is relied on as a more offensively-minded forward whereas Jordan is a shut-down forward, and he is shutting it down.
- Goals/Assists/Points–Jordan (0/0/0), Eric (0/0/0)
- Plus/Minus–Jordan (-2), Eric (-3)
- Total Ice Time–Jordan (18:10), Eric (22:17)
- Shifts–Jordan (25), Eric (31)
- Average–Jordan (:43 per shift), Eric (:43 per shift)
- Shots–Jordan (3), Eric (6)
- Hits–Jordan (2), Eric (2)
- Giveaways–Jordan (0), Eric (1)
- Takeaways–Jordan (0), Eric (1)
- Blocked Shots–Jordan (0), Eric (1)
- Faceoffs Won/Lost/FO%–Jordan (6/7 for 46%), Eric (5/13 for 28%)
The Hurricanes will muster up every last ounce of will and determination to make this a knock down, drag out fight. The Penguins have to keep to their game plan, which they are getting better and better at doing, and as Brooks Orpik said, the Pens can’t let the ‘Canes get back into this series because a win will give them something to build on.
That being said, they need to “git ‘er done.”