With every team now playing at least 41 games, we are officially at the half-way mark of the season which means it's time to see how the Hurricanes have performed up to this point. They have a 15-23-7, have been sitting at last in the Eastern Conference for most of the year and have won only five games on the road, so I think it is safe to say that the Canes haven't lived up to expectations. The worst part of it is that their underlying performance hasn't been good either so their place in the standings is a pretty accurate representation of how they've played. Just to add even more salt to the wound, the intangibles haven't gone in their favor either as both the goaltending and shooting percentages are below what is considered the league average. In other words, the team is playing poorly and they are getting horribly unlucky, which is always a bad combination. They've also been pretty consistent as a poor possession team throughout the year but are things getting better or worse under Kirk Muller? We'll take a look at that, after the jump
This graph shows a five game moving average of the team's Fenwick and Corsi percentages when the game is tied or within a goal and a moving average of the team's overall scoring chance percentage. No matter which category you go by, the Canes have been below .500 since the first week of the season. It's so bad that I had to make .500 the maximum point of the y-axis. You will notice that the team's shot metrics took a big dip when Muller first took over but both have improved a bit since then. The scoring chances, however, stayed relatively consistent in the .480-.485 range under Kirk Muller. This is vastly different from the Paul Maurice era where the team had a few stretches of games where they were shelled at even strength, improved for a little bit only to come crashing back down again. It is interesting to see the team's shot metrics at their highest point of the season right around the time that Maurice was fired but the team's "true talent" doesn't appear to be that high and it doesn't look like they'll break .500 in Corsi, Fenwick or scoring chances.
I wil say that I think the Canes will win some more games as the season goes on, though. Their shot rates are improving and their Corsi and Fenwick totals look so bad because of how horrible the team played earlier in the season and they are still recovering from it. Plus, Cam Ward is a lot better than he's played this year and it's unlikely that Eric Staal will continue to shoot at 6.4% for the next few months. Add in Jeff Skinner's return and I think Carolina can at least avoid a bottom-three finish. They are still in position to finish for a lottery-pick but I don't think they will be "Failing for Nail" with the Jackets and Ducks currently stuck in a ditch. Personally, I don't care where we finish as long I see this team put together some stretches of good play.