Driven by a higher scoring pace of late, the Hurricanes are currently 16th in the NHL in goals per game. That makes them the middle team in the league and is also a decent improvement from 21st in 2016-17.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a quick look at individual players and a couple of categories relative to pre-season expectations.
Much better than expected
The fact that he is capable of scoring is not a surprise. He showed flashes in 2016-17. But the sheer volume of scoring driven by his recent and extended outburst has him leading the team in scoring and on target for roughly 80 points. That exceeds even optimistic projections for him entering the season.
He is still doing his thing in terms of marking other teams’ scoring lines, but in addition, he has been more productive offensively. His current 60ish-point pace is better than the 40-50-point pace that has been the norm for Staal in a Hurricanes uniform.
Williams has somewhat quietly posted big numbers. He had only 48 points on a Washington Capitals team that was an elite scoring team with a strong power play, so it would have been reasonable to expect a small decrease from Williams. Instead, he is on target for more than 60 points.
Many had very high expectations for Aho in 2017-18, so despite posting good numbers, he could still be low for some. I am putting his 70+ scoring pace in the better than expected category.
This year, McGinn probably slots between 10 and 13 on the Hurricanes depth chart, so his 20-goal and 40-point scoring paces represent solid depth scoring especially when one considers his limited ice time and minimal power play time.
Hanifin is on target for nearly 50 points which would be a step up from his 29 points in 2016-17.
More to give
Lindholm has not been bad, and his 40ish-point scoring pace lines up with his past statistics, but after a strong second half of the 2016-17 season, many were hoping for more. Hence, Lindholm is underperforming expectations thus far.
The blue line in total
The defense corps in total have been light on scoring. Half of the blue line in Brett Pesce, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Haydn Fleury do not have a single goal between them yet. The six goals in total for the Carolina Hurricanes projects to about 22-23 goals for the season compared to 34 last season. Most noticeable is Justin Faulk who is currently on target for less than 30 points which is a little light compared to his 37 points in 75 games in 2016-17.
Rask has looked better since re-entering the lineup after a couple games as a healthy scratch, but his 28-point scoring pace for the first quarter of the year is light.
Most surprising on the positive front is Teuvo Teravainen simply because of the sheer number of points he has so far. On the negative side, I actually think that the lack of scoring by the blue line is most surprising. The group is capable in terms of skating and carrying the puck which one would figure would translate into good depth scoring, but that has not been the case thus far in 2017-18.