Canes fans are all too familiar with the loss from the formula of ‘we outplayed them, we outshot, but we faced a hot goalie.” The advanced stats focused on puck possession and shots even more emphasize if you shoot more you should win. But the top level version of this assumes that all shots are equal and that all shooters’ abilities are equal. And that I think is where the Canes miss. And it also explains how the Hurricanes can have so many games where they seemingly deserved better based on shot totals but just cannot score.
Scoring goals is a function of 3 things:
1) Puck possession. Very simply, if you do not have the puck, you cannot score.
2) Advancing the puck to the offensive zone. Even if you get the puck, scoring obviously cannot happen until you are in the offensive zone, so you have to be able to move it up the ice.
3) Playmaking. Even if you get to the offensive zone, it does not guarantee shots, and it especially does not guarantee good shots. Some players have an ability to create both higher volume and higher quality chances. It is not a random coincidence that Sidney Crosby’s line mates score a bunch of goals. It is because he puts the puck on their sticks in good scoring areas.
4) Finishing. The top level of possession/shot stats basically assume that all shooters are roughly equal. Across large volumes of players that might be true, but at an individual or even team level it is not. If you give Steven Stamkos and Jay McClement 100 equally good shot attempts, 1 of them will put more in the net.
I would rate the Canes pretty good at #1 and struggling with #2 and #3 which limits any ability to do much with #4.
With how much the Canes are struggling to score early in the 2015-16 and the fact that it is a carry over from the 2014-15 season, many might say that the Canes need more finishing. While I do think there is an element of that, I think the bigger issue continues to be playmaking. I do not think that the team gets enough grade A chances. Elias Lindholm has only 1 goal. Stop and think of how many great scoring chances he is missing on each game? It is hard to remember more than an occasional 1 here and there. The same goes for Jeff Skinner. And even when he does get a scoring chance, it is not often enough because a line mate put a pass in his wheelhouse. It is much more than ‘random puck happened to find his stick’ variety.
When I get back to this either Sunday or Monday night, my plan is to go through the Canes roster and evaluate the team and individual players for ability to help with each of the 4 steps to scoring.