The phrase “we were playing good until the third period meltdown” has become a common fixture around these parts with the Hurricanes being unable to close out games in a respectable fashion this year. Not including empty net goals, they have been outscored 45-33 in the third period this year. If that wasn’t bad enough, they’ve also been outchanced by 22 in the third period alone and have a scoring chance percentage of 46.1%. If you’re a regular on this blog (or have been following the Canes) then you probably know that the team’s been getting plastered at even strength all year. How much worse can they be playing in the third period? Brutal goal differential aside, they are actually playing only a tad worse in the third period than the first two (about a percent lower) and believe it or not, they have been playing slightly better in the final frame than they were earlier in the year.
An idea recently cooked up by Gabe Desjardins at Arctic Ice Hockey were game-by-game shot charts showing a team’s shot and goal rate over the course of the season. Teams with low shot rates but high goal rates can expect their good fortune to fizzle out in due time and vice versa, so tables like this provide an easy-to-use chart for seeing how good a team really is. Going off the same idea, I decided to make a similar chart for the Hurricanes, only using their third period data instead to see how terrible they’ve really been in that frame.
First, a little decoding. The blue line is the Canes scoring chance percentage, the red line is their shot percentage and the green line is their goal percentage. You can see that they have been sub-.500 in scoring chances and shots in the third period for the entire year, which shows that Carolina’s third period woes have been a yearly problem. It reached a new low around game 11 or so (I am pretty sure that’s the game at Philadelphia where they coughed up 4 in the third) and a collapse like that was just waiting to happen when you look at their other rates here. They were consistently bad at creating scoring chances and shots in the third period, but they got some good luck and were scoring more. Then our old friend regression kicked in and they were stuck in a chasm of third period meltdowns for the next few weeks. That’s what happens when you can’t control possession, sadly.
The good news is that the Hurricanes appear to be getting more shots on net in the third period and while their scoring chance rate hasn’t picked up that much, it’s shown a slight improvement and the team’s goal rate has gone up along with it. If the team can continue to out shoot their opponents in the third period then we should begin to see less meltdowns and more comeback wins. The shot rate is getting close to hitting 50% so that’s always a good thing. Just have to hope that more of those shots are scoring chances so they will eventually turn into more goals and, soon enough, more wins.