The NHL season is a little under two weeks old and with that, we have our first weekly review of the Hurricanes underlying numbers. This is something I hope to have up every Monday but the amount of games the Hurricanes have in a given week might cause me to make some adjustments. This week, we have five games to look at (Philadelphia through Phoenix) so there is plenty of data to gloss over and unfortunately, most of it isn't pretty from the Hurricanes standpoint.
Carolina finished the week with an okay record of 2-2-1 but with both of their wins coming by a goal and the week ending with a rough 5-3 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. To make things worse, their play at even strength has appeared to take a step back from what it was last season and that is not good news for the long-term. Again, I don't want to read too much into this because it's only six games and could be meaningless in another month, but there are some things to be concerned about in this young season.
After the jump, we'll take a closer look at Carolina's last five games and what the positives & negatives were for each of them.
Carolina controlled a little over 48% of the 5v5 Corsi events over the last five games, which isn't good at all. They started off well against Philadelphia & had decent showings against both Pittsburgh & Washington but their play just fell off a cliff against LA & Phoenix. Maybe there's something about Western Conference teams that doesn't sit well with the Canes, because they looked completely outmatched at even strength in both of those games. Within their own division, the Canes have done a decent job at even strength but they are going to be playing the West more with the balanced schedule, so they need to perform better against teams they aren't familiar with. Things aren't going to get any easier next week, as they'll be taking on the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow and have a West road trip coming up soon.
CF = Corsi For, SCF = Scoring Chances For, OZ/DZ = Offensive Zone Starts div. by Offensive Zone & Defensive Zone Starts. All 5v5 Data
- Jeff Skinner currently lead the team in points (7 in 6 games) and has been one of the team's best players in terms of creating chances. This is with him getting third line minutes on some nights, too so he is definitely making the most of his opportunities. The coaches are sheltering him but he has done just about everything they've asked of him.
- Jordan Staal doesn't have a goal yet, but the Hurricanes are winning the battle at even strength whenever he is on the ice. They are both outshooting and outchancing their opponents during five-on-five play and this is with his line getting buried in the defensive zone. With the first and third lines getting sheltered, someone has to take the tough draws and it appears Jordan is the one getting those minutes now. This might impact how much offense he can produce but he is doing his job as a play-driving center now. He's also had a pretty big impact on Nathan Gerbe, who has been the team's best forward at even strength early on.
- Hainsey & Bellemore are getting some tough assignments and are breaking even during 5v 5 play. The Canes are actually outchancing teams when Hainsey is on the ice and this is a little surprising to me because he has never been a strong possession player over his career. Hainsey is no stranger to playing big minutes, though and he appears to be handling them well. Bellemore has also been a nice story early on in the season and here's to hoping that he keeps it up.
- All Nathan Gerbe does is create chances. I wasn't sure about him as a top-six forward before the season started, but he has meshed well with Jordan Staal and has showed excellent scoring instincts early on in the year. He always goes to the net to create chances and his play-making skills have been on display at times, as well.
- The first line has been just awful and both Semin & Staal have been disappointments. They don't appear to be doing too bad going by scoring chances, but Muller usually gives these two the easier territorial assignments, so they should at least be breaking even during five-on-five play. Instead, they are both getting crushed in their own zone and the fact that they aren't scoring just magnifies the issue. I think Staal will be fine, as he has been more active in the neutral zone and leading rushes, but Semin & Tlusty have worried me quite a bit. On that note….
- Tlusty has yet to get on the scoresheet and his territorial performance has been brutal. He wasn't exactly good at driving the play last season, but he was producing enough offense to make up for it. Now that his shooting percentage has predictably declined, he has basically been an non-factor aside from a couple games. He might benefit from getting some easier matchups, as that seems to have worked well with Skinner.
- Murphy has looked impressive by the eye-test, but the underlying numbers tell a different story. The coaches kept him away from tough situations at all costs and the Canes are still getting outshot when he is on the ice. Although, I have to think that Harrison is part of the reason for this. Seeing how the two have been attached at the hip at even strength and Harrison looks like he is skating through mud this season. Harrison has also struggled mightily at breakouts, as he has advanced the puck on less than 7% of his zone exit attempts during five-on-five play. With the depth the Hurricanes have on defense, they can't afford to have their third pairing get beaten this badly every night.
Corsi data taken from Extra Skater