The Carolina Hurricanes are suddenly 30 games into the NHL season which starts to be enough games for stats to mean something. Here is a quick run through the Canes stats that jump out at me
The most obvious and eye-popping number continues to be Justin Faulk’s goal total. His 12 goals projects to 33 for the full 82-game season which is insane for a defenseman. The league leader over the past 10 years has generally been in the 20-25 range.
Another less obvious defense scoring total is Hainsey’s 11 points. He had 10 points in 81 games in 2014-15 and 15 points in 82 games in 2013-14 with the Hurricanes, so his current pace (30 points) is a significant boost. To be honest, I am not sure what to make of it. It would be easy to explain if his assists were coming from partner Justin Faulk’s goal-scoring binge, but that is not the case. Each and every 1 of Faulk’s goals have come on the power play when Faulk does not play with Hainsey. I have noted that Hainsey has been much more aggressive carrying the puck this season. So is he just playing better/more aggressively with the puck? Is it possible that team’s system is rounding into form and starting to boost scoring for everyone? Or…?
Heading into this season, I commended Victor Rask for his rapid rise to being a solid top 9 forward. I also noted that his scoring was light and needed to increase for him to be more than a good third-line checking center. And that is exactly what has happened so far in the 2015-16 season. His 22 points in 30 games puts him on pace for very close to 60 points over an 82-game season.
On the opposite side of the obvious stats ledger from Justin Faulk is the Canes netminding. Despite the win that was the team’s fourth in 5 games on Saturday, the third period collapse was a reminder of the team’s ongoing challenges in net. Through 30 games, Cam Ward’ s save % is .893 and Eddie Lack’s is .876. That just is not good enough in today’s NHL where the average line for the league’s starters is at about .920.
He is sort of the opposite of Ron Hainsey. Liles situation is a strange 1. He is playing a bunch of minutes in a top 4 role (almost exactly 20 per game). He is actually playing well. And he has historically been labeled as an offense-oriented defenseman. But through 30 games, he has only 4 assists and no goals. Part of it is that he is seeing minimal power play ice time on the second unit. Part of it might simply that he is now 34 years old and a bit different player than he was 6-7 years ago. As long as he keeps playing well defensively, I would not get too bogged down with scoring totals.
The number of power play goals by the group (Rask, EStaal, Skinner, Lindholm, Nestrasil) in second place behind Faulk.
The number of power play assists by Victor Rask. To put this in perspective, second place is 5 by Eric Staal and Kris Versteeg.
The percent of Jeff Skinner’s 14 points that have come in the last 5 games.