When looking at shot-based stats like Fenwick, Corsi and Scoring Chances, it is always important to take context into the situation. I often emphasize this point when I go over the numbers for individual players but it is also important to take them into account at the team level. Individually, context is applied by looking at where a player began most of his shifts or what kind of situations he was utilized in but on a team level, we look for score effects.
The idea behind score effects is that a team is more likely to play a passive style while protecting a lead and will be more aggressive if they are trailing. This is especially true for games that are blowouts since there usually isn't much reason for a team to be constantly attacking the offensive zone when they are already leading by 3-4 goals. Thus why most stat-minded bloggers look at what a team's underlying numbers are with the score tied or in close game situations. Roughly 75% of even strength hockey is played when the score is close, so weeding out score effects is a good way to see how a team performs during the most important parts of the game.
Eliminating score effects for Corsi and Fenwick is easy using Vic Ferrari's Time On Ice site, but scoring chances are still a work in progress because there are only a handful of teams that are being tracked. After the jump, we will look at the Hurricanes' even strength numbers during each game state.
|Team||5v5 SCF||5v5 SCA||SC%|
|Up by 1||226||260||46.5%|
|Down by 1||200||172||53.8%|
|Up by 2 or more||87||101||46.3%|
|Down by 2 or more||104||99||51.2%|
Seeing how the most significant portions of the game are when the score is tied or when the game is close, the numbers here are very ugly. The Hurricanes were getting killed territorially with the score tied and weren't very good in close games, either. Possession wasn't one of the team's stronger areas this year and these stats further reinforce that point. The addition of Jordan Staal to the top-six should help out this area a little, but the defense is also going to need to make some big improvements. Their poor play at even strength is one of the many reasons why the Canes kept falling behind so early in games and letting the other team dictate how the rest of the contest would go.
The Hurricanes were also very weak when it came to playing with a lead on both accounts. I understand that this is the area were score effects usually kick in but when you're getting outplayed that badly at even strength, you are not going to be holding onto a lead for a very long time.
Another issue that a lot of people thought the Canes had was that they would simply lay down and give up when a lead was insurmountable but the numbers beg to differ. They were actually very good when trying to come back from being down a goal and were able to slightly control play at even strength when down by at least two. However, studies show that teams should be able to control play at a high rate when they are down by two or more goals. Carolina was not one of those teams.
What can we learn from this? The main idea is that the Canes are going to need to improve their play at even strength if they want to get back to being a competitive team again. It will probably take more than a year and a couple more roster moves/improvements to turn things around but stranger things have happened.