“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” -Wayne Gretzky

-Michael Scott

For all the new players added to the Carolina Hurricanes this offseason, plus all the guys who are no longer here, it wasn’t foolish (right? please tell me this is right) to expect different results in Raleigh. Different doesn’t necessarily mean better, just… not the same. Nearly one-third of the way through the 2018-19 season, and this edition of the Canes is in an awfully similar position to each of the past several seasons. One big reason: the Hurricanes offensive woes are hanging around like many a stale fart.  Here are three things I see as issues around this team’s inability to score.

ALL THE SHOTS

Ever since the word “Corsi” entered popular hockey discourse, the Canes have been among the best teams in the league in that measurement. Hell, over the past four seasons, only the Los Angeles Kings rank above the Canes. For those unfamiliar, Corsi looks at shot differential. If your Corsi is high, you’re getting more pucks toward the opponent’s net than you allow. It’s (in theory) a good indicator of how much of the game is controlled by a team or an individual. 

Over the same timeframe as above, the Canes have earned the 22nd highest point total in the league. For reference, the Kings are 16th, and for the really curious, Washington leads the league in points by a wide margin since the beginning of 2015 and sits 14th in Corsi. 

Where’s the Talent?

With all of that in mind, it certainly doesn’t sound like throwing a bunch of pucks at the net with the hope of scoring goals will work. Especially if we don’t have players to park their rear-ends in front of the net for “garbage” goals. 

So far this year during 5v5 play, Carolina is shooting 5.14%. That sounds bad, but wait until you read that not only does that rank last in the NHL, the next lowest is Edmonton who is shooting 5.86%. If the Canes did NOTHING ELSE but shoot as well (see: poorly) as Edmonton, that would give the team an additional six goals. League average is right around 8%, and if the Canes somehow improved to that number while keeping the same number of shots, that would have added 23 goals thus far. 

Maybe these guys are just snake bitten and their luck will improve? We all know Brock McGinn is the all-time leader in posts hit, right? Let’s look at some individual shooting performances so far this year. Here are shooting percentages this season (in all situations) compared to their career averages (all from hockey-reference.com):

  • Brock McGinn: 4.1%. Career: 9.1%
  • Sebastian Aho: 9.2%. Career: 12.2%
  • Teuvo Teravainen: 8.1%. Career: 9.6%
  • Micheal Ferland: 15.5%. Career: 11.9%
  • Justin Williams: 5.6%. Career: 9.5%
  • Jordan Staal: 6.7%. Career: 11.5%
  • Jordan Martinook: 10.6%. Career: 8.2%
  • Phil Di Giuseppe: 6.7%. Career: 6.5%
  • Justin Faulk: 1.2%. Career: 5.9%
  • Jaccob Slavin: 3.6%. Career: 4.3%
  • Dougie Hamilton: 3.0%. Career: 5.7%

Some of those numbers for this season are truly awful, but based on the sample size, one or two more goals could make a world of difference. The number that stands out the most to me is that 6.5% career percentage from PDG. Please explain why he’s on an NHL roster. 

I’m sure smarter hockey minds (looking at our pal Pat Clarke) could better explain how good players complement each other, but I’ll just say this: notice how Jeff Skinner is having a career year playing with Eichel instead of Rask or Staal? Notice how Lindholm is having a career year playing with Monahan and Gaudreau? Maybe… just maybe there’s a lack of offensive talent beyond a couple guys on the roster. 

Player Usage

If you’ve been on social media or had your ears open at a Canes home game, you’ve probably heard something like “why the hell is Williams still getting top-six minutes? He’s way too slow now and can’t score!” While I’ll note that he’s on pace for 43 points (only four fewer points than his average over the last five seasons), there’s an argument to be made that perhaps he should move down the lineup. 

Williams is far from alone in the “why is HE playing THERE!?” camp though. While I could get into some of the forward lines and amount of ice time, I’d rather look at the powerplay. 

While the man-advantage squads have improved slightly over the past month (they’re 8-38 in the past 30 days, good for 21%), the units themselves have me and plenty of others wearing puzzled looks. The first PP group has both Jordan Staal and Justin Faulk. Both guys are veterans, but neither is producing much on special teams this year. 

Canes Offensive Woes

In 69 minutes of PP time, Jordan Staal has zero goals and one assist. In 83 minutes, Justin Faulk has one goal and one assist. Those points per 60 minutes numbers are 0.87 for Staal and 1.44 for Faulk. Every other player with at least 60 minutes of PP time has an average of FOUR points per 60. Hell, only one forward in the NHL has played as many PP minutes as Jordan Staal with a lower points per 60 stat, and that would be Derek Stepan. Why not give Dougie more time with the first PP unit? Perhaps try literally any other warm body in Staal’s place?

I’m not throwing in the towel on this season by any means. Thankfully for us, the Metro Division is a bit of a dumpster fire. Despite the Canes riding their third losing streak of at least three games, they sit just one point out of third in the division. So, pretty please, with sugar on top, score some effing goals!