Thank goodness it’s finally April. No, not because we get to go to playoff games, don’t be silly! In addition to crappy weather last month, the Canes didn’t exactly set the world on fire in March. Starting the month 7 points out of a playoff spot (either WC or division) and with 15 games to play, the Canes had a marginal chance to make the playoffs with solid month of play. However, a 6-7-2 record sealed their fate.
Starting off April with 7 games on the schedule, where winning all 7 would only give the team a 36% chance of seeing the postseason gives this month the feeling of a funeral procession. So many things went all pear shaped in March that pointing the finger (though the middle one is tempting) at any one aspect of the team won’t cover it. That said, let’s point multiple fingers!
Powerplay: Despite a 4-game streak of scoring PP goals, the Canes finished the month going 8-for-57 with the man advantage. That was good for 23rd in the league on the month. Additionally, the PP units gave up 4 shorthanded goals which was worst in the NHL.
Team Defense: Canes were 7th-worst in the league in shots against per game, allowing 33.4 on average. Only one team that’s going to be in the playoffs (Colorado) was worse. Thankfully the team save % was .918 on the month.
Eric Staal: Was 453rd in shot percentage in March at 2.4%. Scored 1 goal (T-worst with Nash among forwards not named Dvorak, Bowman, or Malhotra). Tied for last (w/Harrison) in +/- at -5, only 1 of his assists came on the powerplay (which sucked, see above), but did lead the team in 1 category: penalty minutes. Of his 20 PIMs in March, none of them were majors, and half of those minutes were stick infractions (including 3 tripping calls). Way to lead the team to the promised land!
Justin Faulk: Despite the good news of his new, 6-year contract, it was not a good month on the ice for the Faulker. Missing some action due to injury, he played 10 games, averaged over 20 minutes TOI, only tallied 2 assists, and was -4. Beyond just the stats, there were a couple games where he and Sekera were uncharacteristically bad.
Cam Ward: The month wasn’t ALL bad for Cam, but despite solid games against Ottawa and Winnipeg, the games against the Islanders and Bruins were so bad, I can’t not put him on this list. Yes, his record of 3-3-1 isn’t markedly different from Anton’s 3-5-1, but Ward’s save percentage of .903 was 43rd of 71 in the league, and his GAA of 3.02 was 46th of 71. Not good. (In case you’re wondering, Khudobin was top-20 in both.)
Drayson Bowman: Played 13 games (was a healthy scratch the other 2) and scored no points in March, making him the only forward to play 10 games without appearing on the scoresheet. Fans have mentioned that having Bowman on this team is pointless, and now they have the numbers to back them up.
There were a few bright spots: Jordan Staal and Alex Semin tied for the team lead with 12 points. Tlusty seemed to find his game. Skinner hit the 30-goal plateau for the second time in his young career. Loktionov showed some promise, and Sekera was t-13th in scoring among defenseman with 10 points.
Semin and Skinner tied for the team lead with 7 goals. Remind me again why there’s talk of trading Skinner and why so many rail on Semin for his game?