WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 13: Cam Ward #30 of the Carolina Hurricanes makes a save off Shawn Matthias #16 of the Winnipeg Jets during NHL action on October 22, 2016 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
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The curious case of the Carolina Hurricanes

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Maybe it’s their system.

Maybe it’s their goalies…or their defense…or their forwards.

Or maybe it’s just really, really bad luck.

Whatever it is, the Carolina Hurricanes are off to another tough start, and this start is looking a lot like last year’s start.

Recall last November when GM Ron Francis said of his 6-10-2 squad: “The frustrating thing for us is that in five of our losses we clearly were the better team but did not win.”

It’s a similar story this season. The ‘Canes are 3-5-4, dead last in the league, and in all five of their regulation losses, they ended up outshooting their opponents.

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Which — you guessed it — brings us to the goaltending. Cam Ward was good last night in New Jersey, but on the season his save percentage is just .899. That’s better than Eddie Lack‘s disastrous .856 mark, but it’s still not very good.

Now, before we bash the goalies too much, consider what head coach Bill Peters had to say a couple of weeks ago after a 4-2 loss in Detroit:

“They had some odd-man rushes, a few we would like back. (There were) too many easy goals; too many soft plays.”

For example, this breakaway by Dylan Larkin:

And here’s Thomas Vanek getting wide open in the slot for a one-timer:

So it’s not all on the goalies. It never is.

But let’s face it, every team has defensive breakdowns, and that’s when the goaltender has to step up. Francis gambled when he brought Ward and Lack back, and right now it doesn’t look like a very smart gamble.

That’s the goaltending story. Let’s talk about the forwards now, because you have to score in order to win, and that’s another area where the ‘Canes and their 21st-ranked offense are again falling short.

Elias Lindholm has 27 shots, but no goals.

Sebastian Aho has 24 shots, but no goals.

Joakim Nordstrom has 17 shots, but no goals.

In fact, of all the NHL forwards who have yet to score a goal, three of the 10 with the most shots play for the Hurricanes.

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Typically, we’d chalk this up to bad luck, and we’d say it was due to even out over the long run.

Except, as mentioned, the same sort of stuff happened last year, when the ‘Canes finished with the second-lowest shooting percentage (8.0%) in the league. This season, it’s slightly higher (8.5%), but not by much.

So, are the shooters not good enough at shooting? Are they not getting to the scoring areas? Is the system too conservative?

All good questions. We’re just not sure of the answers.

What we can say is this:

There’s a stat called PDO that combines shooting percentage with save percentage. It’s mostly used as a measure of luck, because over an 82-game season it’s expected to settle in the neighborhood of 100.

Last season, the highest PDO finished at 101.7, by the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals, the lowest at 98.0, by the 30th-place Maple Leafs.

Here’s where the ‘Canes have ranked in PDO the last few years:

2012-13: 28th (97.9)
2013-14: 25th (99.1)
2014-15: 28th (97.4)
2015-16: 29th (98.2)
2016-17: 29th (95.9)

When it keeps happening, it’s probably not just bad luck.

So whatever it is, the ‘Canes need to figure it out, because the fan base is clearly tired of all the losing. Sunday against the Devils, just 8,650 bothered to show up to PNC Arena, and that’s not going to quell the relocation speculation.

Investor offers to build Seattle arena without public financing

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From King 5 News in Seattle:

Chris Hansen and his investment team on Tuesday offered to forgo public financing to build a new sports arena in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood.

The group also said it would cover the current funding gap to build an overpass over Lander Street, a project long desired by freight and industrial interests concerned about congestion in around the Port of Seattle.

The proposal amounts to a stunning and swift turn in the nearly five-year debate over building a new arena and, ultimately, bringing a professional basketball and hockey team to the city.

Be sure to click on the story for all the details. These stories are rarely simple, and there’s still no guarantee that Hansen and his group will get permission to build their new arena.

But suffice to say, if a new arena does get built, Seattle will have a much better chance of landing an NHL franchise. Hansen has said he’s only interested in owning an NBA franchise, but back in 2014, billionaire Victor Coleman was reportedly working with Hansen to land an NHL tenant. It’s not clear if Coleman is still working with Hansen.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said that Seattle is not a consideration for relocation or expansion until there’s a suitable arena.

Related: 

— Bettman rejects notion that the NHL is waiting for Seattle

— Pacific Northwest will ‘get serious consideration’ for expansion or relocation

 

Stars release Fontaine, demote Honka

DENVER, CO - MARCH 26:  Justin Fontaine #14 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on March 26, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Wild defeated the Avalanche 4-0.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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The Dallas Stars still have some decisions to make with 27 players on their training camp roster, but they got some work done on Sunday.

To the AHL: Julius Honka and Gemel Smith

Released from PTO: Justin Fontaine (pictured)

One cannot help but wonder if someone might take another look at Fontaine. He’s only 28 and has 197 NHL games under his belt, including 60 with the Minnesota Wild in 2015-16.

Honka stands out as the 14th pick of the 2014 NHL Draft. The Stars are transitioning to a younger defensive group, and one would assume that the Finn will be a key contributor sooner or later.

Honka has already showed promise at the AHL level, especially in 2015-16, when he generated 44 points in 73 games for the Texas Stars.

The team’s updated roster can be found here.

More bad news in Dallas: Janmark (knee surgery) out 5-6 months

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 22: Mattias Janmark #13 of the Dallas Stars looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on October 22, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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Earlier this week, we passed along word that Stars forward Mattias Janmark was spotted on crutches at the team’s practice facility.

Now we know why.

Janmark suffered a knee injury that requires surgery, GM Jim Nill said on Thursday. The procedure is expected to sideline the Swedish forward for 5-6 months, putting his return in the neighborhood of February-March of next year.

It’s a big blow for the Stars.

After surprising onlookers by making the team out of camp last year — a “great story,” according to GM Jim Nill — Janmark, 23, went on to have a pretty successful rookie campaign, scoring 15 goals and 29 points in 73 games.

He also fared well in the playoffs, with five points in 12 contests.

Today’s news compounds what’s been a lousy September in Dallas. The club previously lost Tyler Seguin (heel), Cody Eakin (knee) and Ales Hemsky (groin) to injuries, and saw Russian forward Valeri Nichushkin sign in the KHL.

Looking at the schedule, Janmark projects to miss anywhere between 60-70 games this season, assuming the 5-6 month timeline is accurate. That’s a big chunk of man power to replace.

It’s official: Capitals re-sign Orlov to one-year, $2.57M deal

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25:  Dmitry Orlov #9 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov #92 after scoring a goal in the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at Verizon Center on November 25, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The wait is officially over.

The Washington Capitals announced Wednesday afternoon that they had re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Dmitry Orlov to a one-year deal worth $2.57 million, which backs up an earlier report from the Washington Post stating he would sign within the neighborhood of $2.6 million.

Orlov, 25, made $2.25 million last season, the final year of his previous two-year contract. He scored eight goals and 29 points in 82 regular season games in 2015-16.

Even before this contract was signed, the Capitals had bigger plans for Orlov heading into this season.

“I envision him playing with a [Matt] Niskanen or a [John] Carlson, probably more prime minutes as we try even out our defense a little bit in terms of [workload],” said Capitals head coach Barry Trotz in August.

“It’s a great opportunity for him. He’s at the right age where he can really contribute. We’ll look for his contributions on the power play, the penalty kill, playing in that top-4 on a pretty regular basis. I just think it’s right for him.”