Tracking the Storm: Analysis
-- It’s the second day of the new year, and the Carolina Hurricanes are already seeing new results. The score was familiar, but the result was different, as the Canes emerged victorious over the road-weary Philadelphia Flyers in a 2-1 game.
"It was a tight game. That's apparently the way we like to play," Jordan Staal said. "It was nice to get two points."
"I feel real good about tonight, very similar to a lot of nights," head coach Bill Peters said. "But we're just on the right side of the ledger in a 2-1 game."
-- Brad Malone got the fun started at the 13:41 mark of the first period, as he potted his first goal (and first point) as a Hurricane.
"The boys were giving me a hard time, so I told them I wouldn't shave it until I scored," Malone said of his red, scraggly beard. "It could have been a long year."
Malone and Murphy raced off on a two-on-one, Malone holding on to the puck. He then sniped one glove-side high on Steve Mason, giving the Canes a 1-0 lead.
"I've been trying," Malone said of practicing his shot in practice. "I kind of feel bad for Wardo a little bit, but that's where I like to go."
"He's competed hard. He's really competed, and he's been physical. He was physical again tonight. It was nice to see him get rewarded with a goal," Peters said. "He's done a good job as an energy guy, and the goal was good for our team and him as an individual."
It was just the eighth time in 38 games this season that the Hurricanes have taken a lead to the locker room after 20 minutes of play. They are now 6-1-1 in that scenario.
"It was important [to get an early lead] just with the type of game we played against them last time in that building," Eric Staal said, referencing the 5-1 loss in Philadelphia on Dec. 13. "We wanted to respond with a good start and a good effort. We controlled a lot of that first and got a big goal from Bugsy."
-- Eric Staal stretched the Canes’ lead to 2-0 just 41 seconds into the second period. Jordan Staal rang a shot off the post, and on an ensuing point shot from Justin Faulk, Staal swooped in to collect the rebound, depositing his 10th goal of the season. It’s also his third straight game with a goal, and he has points (3g, 1a) in four consecutive games.
"We've been playing a lot of close games all year, and we've been just looking for that extra bounce," Malone said. "Staalsy did a great job in the second period."
"We had two, and I thought we could have had more," Peters said of the team's offensive output. "We had some good looks, especially in the second period. We'll keep working at it to try and get more finish in our game."
That goal would ultimately be the game-winner, as the Flyers’ Chris VandeVelde chopped Carolina’s two-goal lead in half midway through the third period.
"We were trying to get three. We were talking about it at the end of the second. Let’s push it to three, but we weren’t able to do that," Eric Staal said. "When you play with a lead, it makes life a lot easier. With the goaltending we have from Cam and the structure in our game, it definitely helps and we finished it off with a win.”
-- Cam Ward posted 20 saves in his 10th victory of the season. He was most heavily tested in the third period, but otherwise didn't have to see much rubber against a team that was playing its seventh consecutive game on the road.
"Cam was real good and solid," Eric Staal said. "When we did give up something, he was there."
-- After the morning skate today, I asked head coach Bill Peters how having Jordan Staal in the Canes’ lineup alters the dynamic.
“Night and day different. It gives you a match-up center and allows Eric to be a winger,” Peters said. “He's a big man, but he spends a lot of time in the offensive zone, too. He's a strong man on faceoffs.”
Staal’s presence was felt from the get-go, and it made a direct impact on the scoresheet in the second period.
"6-4. 230. Knows how to play. Experience. Good in all three zones. I think any coach would want that in their lineup. It just changes us quite a bit," Peters said after the game. "There's a chance Eric and Jordan can develop some chemistry moving forward."
Jordan and his wife, Heather, welcomed Abigail Staal into the world at 2:22 a.m. Hours later, Jordan and the Canes secured their first win of 2015.
"Every once in a while, sitting on the bench, it’s in the back of your mind for sure," Staal said. "It gives you little chills and excitement. It definitely keeps you going.”
-- The Flyers brought into tonight’s game a power play that ranked tied for sixth in the NHL, converting at a 22 percent clip. The Hurricanes’ penalty kill, which ranks sixth in the NHL at an 85.3 percent success rate, handled it, with a perfect three-for-three on the man disadvantage.
"That's part of the details that the coaches bring out in our players," Jordan Staal said. "It really shows the way we play defensively."
"That's a good power play they went against tonight," Peters said. "Huge [kill] in the third period. The game is on the line, basically, at that stage. I thought they did a real nice job."
-- A brief, two-game homestand for the Hurricanes wraps up on Sunday afternoon when the Boston Bruins visit Raleigh for a 1 p.m. matinee faceoff.
"You've got to find ways to win, and we've not been able to to do that this whole first half of the hockey season," Eric Staal said. "Hopefully in 2015 we'll continue to learn and get better in that respect."