Carolina Hurricanes October Scoring Chances

As most of you know, I have been keeping track of the Carolina Hurricanes scoring chances this year and I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the team’s data now that we’re a month into the season. First, I’ll go over what scoring chances are and why they are important to refesh some people’s memories. A scoring chance is a shot directed at the net from what is defined as “a dangerous scoring area.” That area being shown in this diagram. The reason why bloggers like myself keep track of scoring chances is because they help us judge how well a player is performance by either creating or preventing offense. Many advanced stat bloggers use corsi for this, which is also a fine stat, but scoring chances are better for determining which players are creating and/or preventing more goals. Why? Because more goals tend to come from the scoring chance area than anywhere else. Corsi is great for judging which players are carrying the play but that doesn’t always mean they are creating chances. For instance, let’s say we have a player who is on ice for a lot of shots on net but most of them are coming from the perimeter. He would probably have a high corsi rating despite not creating any chances. On the flipside, we could have a defenseman who is on ice for a lot of shots against but most of them come outside the face off circle. He would probably have an unfavorable corsi rating but a high scoring chance rating.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s use this data to examine the Hurricanes first month of the season. I think the best way to describe the Canes first month is that things could be worse but they could be a lot better. They are a bottom ten team in 5-on-5 goal differential, own only 43.8% of the shots at even strength and only 46.1% of the scoring chances. That isn’t going to win you a lot of games. I’ve mentioned this before but Carolina has only outshot their opponent at even strength four times this month and have yet to outshot or outchance anyone on the road. However, the Canes were able to come out of October with a 4-4-3 record and earned a couple extra points in some games due strong special teams (games at Buffalo and Boston). That’s good for a .500 record in the NHL, but If we want Carolina to win more games in the next few months, they are going to need to do a much better job at creating chances.

We’ll look at things more closely after the jump.

Forwards

Player 5v5 SCF 5v5 SCA SC +/- SC% EV CF/15 EV CA/15 OZ%
Jussi Jokinen 48 29 +19 .623 5.43 3.28 40.8%
Chad LaRose 50 34 +16 .595 5.04 3.42 48.9%
Jiri Tlusty 37 23 +14 .617 4.17 2.59 52.4%
Tuomo Ruutu 34 46 -12 .425 3.75 5.07 42.9%
Jeff Skinner 35 35 0 .500 3.67 3.67 48.6%
Alexei Ponikarovsky 31 44 -13 .413 3.33 4.72 33.7%
Brandon Sutter 32 38 -6 .457 3.17 3.76 36.4%
Eric Staal 33 56 -23 .371 3.14 5.34 50.5%
Patrick Dwyer 29 34 -5 .460 2.97 3.48 34.1%
Tim Brent 13 21 -8 .382 2.38 3.84 53.3%
Brett Sutter 4 8 -4 .382 2.30 4.601 36.4%
Zach Boychuk 3 7 -4 .300 2.20 5.14 68.8%
Anthony Stewart 9 20 -11 .310 1.86 4.12 52.8%
Zac Dalpe 4 7 -3 .367 1.75 3.06 50%

SCF = Scoring chances for, SCA = Scoring chances against, SC +/- = Scoring chance differential, CF/15 = Chances for per 15 minutes, CA/15 = Chances against per 15 minutes, OZ% = Offensive zone start percentage. Chart is sorted by EV CF/15 mins.

This table really illustrates just how much trouble the Canes are having at creating offense. Only three forwards have created more chances than they gave up and the team’s best player is getting demolished at even strength. That player being Eric Staal. Let’s talk about him for a minute. This confirms that he hasn’t been himself this year when playing at even strength. He is giving up a ton of chances in his own end and not creating enough to off-set this at all. You can blame weak linemates but one would think that a top-level center like Staal could be capable of driving the play and create chances on his own. That hasn’t been the case for the first month. When I took a closer look at Staal’s season last week, it showed that Staal has been unable to create offense with just about every winger he was paired with. The fact that he is sitting at the bottom of the barrell in scoring chance percentage compared to other top sixers on the team is pretty bad.

On a more positive note, Jussi Jokinen has been very good to start the year. He might be second on the team in points but he’s consistently been recording the most chances among forwards and doing it with some tough zone starts. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that he’s been the team’s best forward to start the year but wait a challenger appears! That challenger is 19-year old Jeff Skinner who leads the team in goals and points (4, 10 respectively) and while he is putting up a lot of offense, he’s giving back a lot at even strength. The other two forwards who have a positive scoring chance differential are LaRose and Tlusty. The former has been taking some criticism from fans and while I would not consider him first line material, he is playing well right now and that’s all I care about. As for Tlusty, he is also off to a very good start and was recently placed on the first line. He is doing all the right things; crashing the net, shooting the puck, finding open ice, etc. so this could be a good opportunity for him. He’s also been one of the few forwards who has gotten the benefit of easier zone starts.

Ruutu was horrible during the first couple of weeks which is partially the reason why he is so low on this chart but he has picked it up lately, though. For the first couple weeks, he wasn’t creating chances and giving up a ton in his own end and now, it’s a little bit of both. Him being reunited with Jokinen and Skinner had something to do with that, I bet. Speaking of players who have had a strange month, Ponikarovsky had a great first couple of weeks and then tanked when he was placed on the first line. Maybe “the Staal effect” has a negative impact this year.

Defensemen:

Player EV SCF EV SCA SC +/- SC% EV CF/15 EV CA/15 OZone%
Tomas Kaberle 45 38 +7 .542 4.39 3.70 55.1%
Jay Harrison 39 38 +1 .501 4.01 3.91 53.2%
Jamie McBain 31 43 -12 .419 3.47 4.82 43.8%
Tim Gleason 42 47 -5 .472 3.36 3.76 34.7%
Joni Pitkanen 41 61 -20 .402 3.35 4.98 41%
Bryan Allen 38 40 -2 .487 3.23 3.40 35.6%
Justin Faulk 10 12 -2 .454 3.07 3.69 46.9%

Only two defensemen have created more chances than they’ve surrendered and unsurprisingly, they are the two most protected on the team when it comes to zone starts. This is what happens when you only outshoot four teams in one month.

That said, Harrison and Kaberle are playing well with their ice-time and I think the points are going to come to them sooner or later. Kaberle has only two points in 11 games but if he keeps this up, that number will improve. I feel like Harrison is going to have a bit of a breakout season (I use that term loosely) due to playing easier minutes and having a mobile partner like Kaberle.

Allen and Gleason barely finished under 50% in scoring chances and that’s great when you consider the kind of assignments they are taking on. Their play has been tad inconsistent as of late, though because there are some nights where they get shelled at even strength and others, like the Chicago game, where they completely shut down the opposition. I’m satisfied with the way both have played, though.

Pitkanen leads defensemen in points but he’s giving back a ton at the other end and most of that was during the first couple games of the season. He, along with McBain, are taking on a lot of tough assignments, so that probably has a lot to do with them giving up so many chances. When you have a shut down pair like Gleason and Allen, it generally allows the other defensemen to play easier assignments, but that doesn’t matter as much when they play for a team that gets outshot as much as Carolina does. Ideally, Pitkanen and McBain would be getting more offensive zone starts but Carolina’s been having so much trouble at keeping the play in their own zone that Maurice can’t do that. It’s also having a big effect on the forwards.

Like I said, these are some ugly numbers but Carolina managed to have a decent 4-4-3 record despite that so that could help us out in the grand scheme of things when the team (hopefully) starts playing better.

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