The Carolina Hurricanes face a lot of questions and gut-checks in 2013-14, but if they want to look at an area of special concern, they should focus on their special teams.
Simply put, the team hasn’t gotten enough out of their power-play or penalty-kill units for quite some time. Let’s take a look at those two situations.
While it’s possible that things are changing under still-fairly-new head coach Kirk Muller, the Hurricanes have developed a history of blowing bountiful power-play opportunities.
While they were basically middle of the pack in power-play opportunities in 2013, one might chalk some of that up to the upheaval of an abbreviated season (or Muller). Regardless, take a look at the staggering amount of chances Carolina has traditionally received and the Canes’ spotty record of making the most of those chances:
2011-12: 5th most power-play opportunities (298), 16.7 percent, 49 PPG
2010-11: 1st (346), 15.9 percent, 55 PPG
2009-10: 1st (332), 16.9 percent, 56 PPG
2008-09: tied for first (374), 18.7 percent, 70 PPG
2007-08: first (420), 18.8 percent, 79 PPG
2006-07: second (447), 15 percent, 67 PPG
2005-06: third (531), 17.9 percent, 95 PPG
On paper, the Canes should be far more dangerous on the PP. They have enough talented forwards to round out two good-to-great units, with standouts such as Eric Staal, Alexander Semin and Jeff Skinner.
Perhaps one can pin some of the blame on a lack of an elite power-play quarterback, but if history repeats itself, then Muller needs to find a way to make this unit more efficient.
A real disadvantage
The Carolina Hurricanes’ penalty kill unit has been below the league average (percentage-wise) all but one season (2006-07) since 2005-06.
Unlike their power play, the Hurricanes don’t seem to boast the kind of personnel that would make for a great penalty kill. On paper, at least.
Again, it might come back to Muller, though. He’ll earn his keep if he can find a way to make this historically shaky group play at least to a league-average level.
There are reasons to feel both more optimistic and pessimistic about Carolina’s outlook in 2013-14, but they’d certainly make life easier for themselves if they play better outside of even-strength situations.
More Hurricanes Day at PHT fun