When Kirk Muller took over as head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, one of the things he intended to do was improve the Canes special teams play. Muller did wonders with the Montreal Canadiens power play when he served as an assistant coach from 2006-2011. The Habs ranked in the top half of the NHL in power play efficiency in each of those years, having a top 10 power play in the last four. This success has clearly not carried over to the Hurricanes, as their power play has ranked in the bottom-10 of the NHL in all three years he has been in Raleigh, ranking 25th in the league this year with an efficiency rate of 14.6%.
You can make the case that Muller had better weapons to work with in Montreal. Those teams had Andrei Markov in his prime, Alexei Kovalev when he was a 65-point player, a great goal-scorer in Mike Cammalleri and most recently, PK Subban in his rookie season. Having solid offensive defensemen like Mark Streit and James Wisniewski also helped in their respective years, but let's not pretend that Muller's had nothing to work with in Carolina. In his first year, you can say that (when Tim Brent is your PP quarterback, something is wrong), but the Hurricanes have added better offensive players since then. A power play featuring the likes of Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner, Alexander Semin and Jordan Staal should be higher than 25th in the league. Having Andrej Sekera, who is having a career year offensively, Justin Faulk and youngste Ryan Murphy should also help out but the Canes power play has remained lifeless and a big reason why the team hasn't gained much ground in the standings.
I wouldn't go as far to say that the Hurricanes would be a playoff team if they had a good power play, but it's definitely cost them a few points in the standings. A great power play can buoy a mediocre team at even strength (see the Capitals) and the Hurricanes haven't had this luxury in quite some time. This isn't just a problem with Muller, though. The last time the Canes had a power play that was even in the top half of the NHL was all the way back in 2007-08. They've gone through three coaches since then and a rotating cast of players, so the problem isn't exclusive to this year's staff. It makes it very difficult to find out what the root of the problem is but going from my observations, most of the Canes power play woes are related to poor execution.
Thomas Drance at Canucks Army wrote a fantastic post on the Canucks power play, which is also clicking at a low rate this year, showing where the Canucks players are shooting the puck from on the power play this year. He determined that the Canucks power play woes are a combination of poor shooting luck and not having a right-handed shot from the point to replace Alex Edler. Carolina's struggles to beyond just shooting luck, though. Unlike Vancouver, the Hurricanes are one of the worst teams in the league at generating shots on goal during five-on-four play and are in the bottom-half of the NHL in terms of five-on-four shot attempts. So it's not just creating chances that the Hurricanes have a problem with, they struggle to create any offense at all and after the jump, we'll dive into what some of their problems might be.no comments