Going into the season, offense was something that many did not project to be a problem for the Hurricanes this year. They had one of the best first lines in the NHL and an expensive forward corps filled with players who could put the puck in the back of the net. Factor in Ryan Murphy making the team, and the Hurricanes were poised to be a strong club offensively and getting back to what worked for them in the first half of last season.
We are now 17 games into the season and the Hurricanes currently rank second to last in total goals and are averaging only 1.84 goals per game, which is ahead of only the Philadelphia Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres. The stats get even worse as you dig deeper, as the Canes have scored three or more goals in only four games and their leading goal-scorer, Nathan Gerbe, has a total of four goals. Take away their numbers at special teams and the Hurricanes have scored only 21 five-on-five goals in over 781 minutes, which obviously isn't going to get the job done unless they can get elite goaltending out of Justin Peters, Cam Ward and/or Anton Khudobin.
The Hurricanes aren't the only team going through scoring woes right now, but with a tough slate of games ahead, they are going to need to get some more goal support than they have recently. Head coach Kirk Muller doesn't seem to be too worried about this, though. He recently stated in an interview that the team has focused on improving their play away from the puck & getting better defensively but the system is the same as it was last year. He also stated that they are getting the same chances that they were last year but they just need to "finish" better.
Muller has some reasons to be confident. The Hurricanes have been a mediocre team in terms of territorial play, sitting at 16-18th in Corsi Percentage for most of the year, but their team shooting percentage isn't going to hover around 5-6% either. Unless the play of Semin, the Staal brothers and Skinner completely falls off, the Hurricanes still possess some decent scorers in the lineup and are too good to be a team that scores on only 5-6% of the shots they take. Muller's focus on improving the team's defensive play may have hurt Carolina's territorial game a little but it isn't the only reason for them being unable to buy a goal right now.
The main thing that Muller emphasized in that interview was that the team needed to "finish" better. I always wonder how much players have control over this because while there are some forwards who possess a high amount of scoring ability (Steven Stamkos, Alex Tanguay, etc.), goals are often the product of good luck. Sometimes a player can make a "perfect" shot and be robbed by the goaltender while other times they might beat the goaltender but have their shot go off the goal-post or deflect wide. Those who are more fortunate might get credited with a goal after a shot deflects off them and into the net or after catching the goaltender napping. It's easy to get tied up in a player's goal total and say that he isn't trying but goals often come as the result of random events so it's not the best way to fully judge their value.
That said, goals are what ultimately wins you games and the Hurricanes big guns are currently stuck in a rut right now. The general sense is that as long as they are creating chances, they should start to see some better results because the team isn't going to continue to shoot at such a low percentage for the remainder of the year. Who on the Hurricanes is creating the most chances and is more likely to see their luck turn around? We'll look at both questions after the jump.no comments