The March Towards .500

Another month is in the books and this was a very, very forgetable one for the Carolina Hurricanes as they only won four games all November. They went 4-10-1(five of those losses coming by two goals if we exclude empty netters.), played one of their worst games in years and Paul Maurice ended up losing his job over it. I said that a coaching change was inevitable but what was wrong with this team wasn’t his fault and the team was actually playing better hockey this month than they did in October.

Say what now? The Hurricanes won only 4 of 12 games and actually played better? It’s true. In October, the Hurricanes were a horrible team when it came to creating and preventing shots and were dominated territorially for the most part. They ended the month with a terrible Corsi rate of 48.5% at even strength with the score tied, one of the worst in the Eastern Conference. They also owned only 46.1% of the scoring chances when playing 5-on-5. After November, their overall Fenwick rate has climbed up to 49.5% with the score tied and their overall scoring chance percentage is now at 49.3%. It’s the “March Towards .500” and the Canes appear to be heading towards it in full force. In fact, if we separate their play for just the month of November alone, they had both corsi tied and scoring chance rates of above 50%. That shows some progress.

What you’re probably wondering is if the Canes played so well in November then why the hell did they win only four games? For starters, the powerplay was awful, but I already covered that. They also fell on some bad luck when it came to the intangibles like goaltending and shooting percentages. Carolina was shooting the puck at only 6.7% at even strength in November, a number that’s below the league average and is sure to improve down the line. Cam Ward and Brian Boucher (mostly the former) were also very poor this month as they had a combined EV save percentage of only .908, also below average and should improve as Ward is not this bad.

Some guys who were playing awful at the beginning of the year have begun to pick it up a bit (see Staal, Eric; Ruutu, Tuomo) and are only going to get better as the season goes on, so there is reason to believe that the Canes will eventually climb out of this hole and have a chance at climbing out of the Eastern Conference basement. The biggest issue right now is fixing the powerplay which has completely fallen apart since the Tampa Bay game on November first. That’s the main thing I see holding the team back right now as they keep squandering away chances there.

The Hurricanes still aren’t very good at all but they haven’t been nearly as bad as their current point total indicates. Are we destined for a lottery pick? Maybe. A hole like this is hard to get out of but I do believe that we’ll start winning more games on a consistent basis sometime this year. It’s tough to accept, but there’s a ton of luck involved with hockey and the ball hasn’t been rolling in Carolina’s favor in 2011.