Reasons to be confident in Eric Staal

The Hurricanes captain has not been having a good season at all and he’s fallen under harsh scrutiny from the most of the fanbase, myself included. With only four goals and eight points in 20 games played, everyone is wondering where the spark is from Eric Staal this season and if he’s beginning to decline as a player. While I can agree that Staal’s start to the year was brutal, he has been picking it up lately even though his point total does not indicate it.

We’ll take a closer look at Staal’s season after the jump.

Here’s a graph that shows the Hurricanes corsi percentage with the score tied while Staal was on the ice along with the percentage of scoring chances that went in the team’s favor.

Like I mentioned earlier, Staal got off to a horrible start this year and was in a funk for the entire month of October. Whenever your scoring chance percentage is below 40% then you know something is wrong. However, you can see that he’s slowly been improving since around game 12 and the Canes are generating a lot more shots with Staal on the ice. That’s very good news because more shots and more scoring chances obviously means more goals to come for the captain.

When comparing Staal’s performance in October to this month, you can tell that he’s definitely picking it up and beginning to play like his old self. In October, Staals’ corsi percentage with the score tied was a paltry 45.8% and the Canes were only creating 37.1% of the scoring chances with him on the ice. In November, his corsi and scoring chance percentages are 53.7% and 55.9% respectively.

The biggest problem is that luck is not on Staal’s side at all right now. At even strength with the score tied, the Hurricanes failed to score a goal with Staal on the ice for 16 consecutive games. Now they are only shooting at 2.2% in that situation and it shouldn’t take a genius to figure out that number is going to improve. Also, to the people who keep pointing at his -18 to show how bad he’s been this year, a reason behind that is the Carolina goalies have only been stopping 86.7% of the opposition’s even strength shots with Staal on the ice. Don’t get me wrong, his defensive hasn’t been that good this year but when a save percentage is that bad, you have to believe that a lot of things going wrong are out of Staal’s control.

Regression to the mean is going to happen soon and good things will come his way.