Have the Carolina Hurricanes turned a corner? Or have they simply been playing this good all year without results?
Spoiler alert: it’s the latter. Let’s start at the beginning of the year and go through the 31st of December.
The Hurricanes controlled 56.33% of shot attempts at 5v5 through the first 38 games of the year, yet they only sported a 16-7-5 record which put them 7th worst in the National Hockey League.
During that same span they also had the league’s worst PDO with a 5.46 shot percentage (31st) and a 91.53 save percentage (18th). Controlling play, average goaltending and an opposing net that seems to be the size of a table hockey net.
The Hurricanes simply received poor shooting luck from the start of the season until the end of the calendar year. The tune hasn’t been the same in 2019, though.
At 22-7-2 for this calendar year the Hurricanes sit 2nd in the NHL during that timeframe. Now those are results you can enjoy.
Their 5v5 save percentage has gone up from average to above average at 92.38 (10th) and their shooting percentage has skyrocketed to 9.76 (3rd). Those ticks above average are coming in handy. That gives them a 102.14 PDO which is good enough for 2nd in the NHL in 2019.
The ‘Canes are actually controlling less play than they did during the first 38 games. At 52.68% CF% for this 31 game chunk, the Hurricanes sit 6th in that date span. A near 4% drop in 5v5 shot attempts is significant but it can be a wash if you are shooting unsustainably high and enjoying above average netminding.
The takeaway from this is that the Carolina Hurricanes are a good hockey team. They aren’t quite a 22-7-2 team all year long, but they are closer to that on a regular basis than the 16-17-5 results.
As we head down the final stretch of the season you can expect to see more positive results for Carolina. Even as the shooting/save statistics regress back it’s reasonable to assume their possession will increase a percentage point or two. While these numbers aren't the be-all, end-all of the 'why', they are a major factor.
After the Hurricanes play Columbus, Buffalo and Pittsburgh they spend five of their last ten games against Top 10 (2019 calendar) possession teams. Pittsburgh is 11th, and they are also Pittsburgh. The Penguins account for two of the last 13 Hurricanes games.
This tough stretch of games will help Carolina get a current gauge of where they are on the ice in comparison to other streaking teams heading towards the playoffs.
*all stats naturalstattrick.com