Before his terrific performance against the Leafs last night, Cam Ward was one of the main frustrations with this Hurricanes team as he's clearly played below his standards this year. Ward has been Carolina's back-stop ever since he took them to the Cup in 2005-06 and has been performing at a high level for the past three years (EV Sv% <.920 during that time). This year, however, he's taken a sharp turn downward with his even strength and overall save percentages being way below the league average. He's beginning to show frustrations with both his play and, to some extent, the team around him. So who is to blame for Ward's struggles? Is the defense in front of him making his job harder or is the problem with Ward centered around himself? We'll explore this after the jump.no comments
One of the features on this blog is the weekly rundown of the Hurricanes performance and at the beginning I present a graph called an "OZ Coke Chart" which is a graph that shows how each player on the team is being used. It plots a player's offensive zone starts on the x-axis agianst his corsi relative to quality of competition (corsi rel QoC) on the y-axis to show how tough his assignments are. A player with a high corsi rel. QoC and low percentage of offensive zone starts are usually shutdown defensemen or defensive forwards capable of playing well against the opposition's top players. On the other end, players that are given a higher percentage of offensive zone starts and are placed against average to bad competition are those who coaches do not trust defensively and shelter them as a result. The idea comes from Rob Vollman at Hockey Prospectus and is being used by many different team bloggers including the Flyers, Flames, Stars, Capitals and Blue Jackets.
I've been monitoring this for the Hurricanes all season and figured it would be a cool idea to see how other Southeast coaches are using their players. I did make one extra addition with this, though. To show how each player is performing, I used a bubble graph and color coded the bubbles to show if a player has a positive (blue) or negative (red) corsi relative rating. This will help display how well a player is driving possession in his role. The bubbles also increase or decrease in size depending on what his corsi relative rating is. If he's positive and has a big bubble, then he's killing it territorially. If he's negative and has a big bubble, then he's getting dominated. Have I lost you yet? Hopefully not, because we haven't gotten to the good stuff yet. That comes after the jump.no comments
What do we make of the past week for the Carolina Hurricanes? They got their first win under Kirk Muller by defeating the Oilers in dominant fashion, but they also had two stinkers against Calgary and Winnipeg. I mean, they were only outscored 13-14 and outshot 92-97 so how bad could they have played? Well, the data is skewed a bit from that Oilers game because if you eliminate that, then the Canes were outshot and outscored by a much bigger margin. Also, their performance at even strength was a mixed bag. They controlled only 46.8% of the shots five-on-five but had the advantage in scoring chances by owning 52.5% of those, but I'm willing to bet that most of it is from the Oilers game and when they were playing catch-up to the Flames on Tuesday. Goaltending brought this team down for the second week in a row as Cam Ward was pulled twice and stopped only 86.5% of the shots he faced. Not even close to being "good enough." It's been a weakness for this team all year and it hasn't been improving.
I breakdown the past week for the Canes after the jump
One thing statisticians love to throw around is how "x player is on pace for y amount of points" whenever they are on a hot or cold streak. Take Jiri Tlusty for instance, he's off to a pretty strong start by his standards with six goals and 11 points in 31 games. He is currently on pace for 16 goals and 29 points if he plays all 82 games, which would be career highs for him. Is it possible that he keeps up that pace? Sure, but it's equally likely that he won't because things like injuries, slumps, hot streaks, etc can happen at any time and change a player's goals and points per game rate. Actually, a player's "scoring pace" changes just about every game when you think about it, which is why I thought it would be a fun idea to look at every regular forward on the Canes, see what their pace is and whether they'll finish above or below that mark. We'll start this after the jump.no comments
Bryan Allen has arguably been the Hurricanes' best defenseman in this very forgettable season. He's played 18-20 minutes a night, is usually given the toughest assignments and has posted a 4.5 Corsi Rel. rating, which is the best among defensemen. Not only that, but he has been outperforming the entire defense corps when it comes to creating and preventing scoring chances. Despite his great play, Allen's seen his role decrease by a lot over the past few weeks. Was Kirk Muller the reason for this? We'll find out after the jump.no comments
One week in the Muller era has gone by and the Hurricanes do not have a win to show for it. This isn't the start that anyone wanted to get off to but rebuilding is going to take time and the Canes are a long way from being competitive, or at least they are this season. The Hurricanes had some ups and downs this week despite going 0-3 but the one troubling thing is that the team played worse at even strength than they have in recent weeks. They controlled only 45% of the chances when playing five-on-five and 48.9% overall. Shots are a little better (48.6% at EV) but they were still outplayed in two out of three games this week. They had a good chance at getting at least two points this week since they outplayed the Panthers and were one goal away from OT against the Penguins but didn't do enough in the end.
We'll take a closer look after the jumpno comments
Out of all of the things that have gone wrong for the Hurricanes this year the one near the top of everyone's list is the play of Tomas Kaberle. Thought to be a good replacement for Joe Corvo, he was signed to a three year deal worth $12.75 mil. over the summer but he has been anything but that. Kaberle has no goals and only five points in 26 games, has been on ice for only nine goals at even strength and has made numerous mistakes in his own zone that have led to chances and goals for the opposing team. It's gotten to the point where he's been scratched for one game and even GM Jim Rutherford has called him out. Kaberle has always been overrated as an offensive defenseman but he has never been this bad in his career before. After the jump, we'll try to find out what exactly has been wrong with him.no comments
It's a little past the quarter pole of the NHL season and you'll see some interesting things in the standings. The Florida Panthers are leading the Southeast, the Washington Capitals are out of the playoff race, the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs would make the playoffs if the season ended today and the Islanders are the worst team in the East. Okay, maybe that last one isn't too far-fetched but there's definitely a lot of things going on that many didn't predict at the beginning of the year. To get a better idea of how these team's are really performing, we're going to look at their Pythagorean Expectations to see where they are projected to finish at the end of the year.
More details after the jumpno comments
Another month is in the books and this was a very, very forgetable one for the Carolina Hurricanes as they only won four games all November. They went 4-10-1(five of those losses coming by two goals if we exclude empty netters.), played one of their worst games in years and Paul Maurice ended up losing his job over it. I said that a coaching change was inevitable but what was wrong with this team wasn't his fault and the team was actually playing better hockey this month than they did in October.
Say what now? The Hurricanes won only 4 of 12 games and actually played better? It's true. In October, the Hurricanes were a horrible team when it came to creating and preventing shots and were dominated territorially for the most part. They ended the month with a terrible Corsi rate of 48.5% at even strength with the score tied, one of the worst in the Eastern Conference. They also owned only 46.1% of the scoring chances when playing 5-on-5. After November, their overall Fenwick rate has climbed up to 49.5% with the score tied and their overall scoring chance percentage is now at 49.3%. It's the "March Towards .500" and the Canes appear to be heading towards it in full force. In fact, if we separate their play for just the month of November alone, they had both corsi tied and scoring chance rates of above 50%. That shows some progress.
What you're probably wondering is if the Canes played so well in November then why the hell did they win only four games? For starters, the powerplay was awful, but I already covered that. They also fell on some bad luck when it came to the intangibles like goaltending and shooting percentages. Carolina was shooting the puck at only 6.7% at even strength in November, a number that's below the league average and is sure to improve down the line. Cam Ward and Brian Boucher (mostly the former) were also very poor this month as they had a combined EV save percentage of only .908, also below average and should improve as Ward is not this bad.
Some guys who were playing awful at the beginning of the year have begun to pick it up a bit (see Staal, Eric; Ruutu, Tuomo) and are only going to get better as the season goes on, so there is reason to believe that the Canes will eventually climb out of this hole and have a chance at climbing out of the Eastern Conference basement. The biggest issue right now is fixing the powerplay which has completely fallen apart since the Tampa Bay game on November first. That's the main thing I see holding the team back right now as they keep squandering away chances there.
The Hurricanes still aren't very good at all but they haven't been nearly as bad as their current point total indicates. Are we destined for a lottery pick? Maybe. A hole like this is hard to get out of but I do believe that we'll start winning more games on a consistent basis sometime this year. It's tough to accept, but there's a ton of luck involved with hockey and the ball hasn't been rolling in Carolina's favor in 2011.no comments
Another week has past and the Canes managed to only win one game and pick up three points in the standings. All thee losses were by one goal (I usually don't count empty netters) and you could say that the Canes had a chance to win every game this week but a closer look at their performance proves otherwise. After a week where they actually outplayed most of their opponent's, it was the opposite this past week as they were outshot 99-87 at even strength and outchanced 51-45. The overall numbers look better due to a lot of powerplay chances (thanks Ottawa) but overall, they were outplayed for most of this week and that includes the game they won against Philadelphia. I'm thinking that Paul Maurice was fired at the right in terms of the team's future because why the team doesn't seem to be playing that bad by the eyes, they are still getting dominated at even strength and that can't continue. It's not all Maurice's fault but with his contract expiring and the team struggling, I think it was the right move to do.
The Canes did record 19 chances on the powerplay but nine of those came against Ottawa where they had eight opportunities with the man advantage so the data is skewed a bit. They scored only three times with the man advantage and came up empty handed in eight attempts against Montreal and Winnipeg. The penalty kill, however, was solid this week as they allowed only 6 scoring chances on 14 attempts but they also gave up two goals. I'm curious to see what improvements are made to the special teams with Kirk Muller taking over as coach. It was said that he basically took over the Montreal Canadiens when they were down 3-1 in their first round series against the Washington Capitals two years ago and I think we know how the story ended there. He was noted for improving their PK and powerplay which were both very successful in that series. However, he had nothing to do with turning Jaroslav Halak into a Super Man which was the main reason the Habs won that series.
After the jump we'll single out some performances from over the past week.no comments