If you have been busy with the basketball version of tournament brackets and missed it, please also take a look at our Hurricanes bracket challenge. Thursday’s “The Good Old Days” bracket pits great games in Hurricanes history against each other.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers up a short series of simple statistics that jump out in looking at the Hurricanes’ 2017-18 season thus far.
Victor Rask at even plus/minus
Yes, yes…I realize that there are limitations with the plus/minus statistic but with a 70-game sample size, I think it is interesting to measure if a team wins or loses at even strength with certain players on the ice as compared to others on the same team (and therefore playing with somewhat similar background factors). Victor Rask stands out as being even in plus/minus. By all accounts, he has had a down 2017-18 season. No doubt, his 13 goals and 26 assists (which project to 34 points at season’s end) are light production-wise. But that maybe makes his break even status even more impressive and suggests that he continues to hold his own in terms of doing his part to keep the puck out of the Hurricanes’ net. At the end of the day, the Hurricanes do not need another scoring-light, two-way center, but the fact that Rask’s scoring struggles do not seem to have rubbed off on the rest of his game is a positive.
Biggest winning streak of only four games
A couple times along the way in evaluating the Hurricanes’ playoff chances, I said that the team would need to put together one extended winning streak. And now 70 games into the season, that streak has proven to be elusive. The Hurricanes have mustered only a single four-game winning streak and two three-game winning streaks. The story of the season has been a bunch of small steps forward followed almost immediately by a step back which not surprisingly nets to a record that is only two games above .500.
Cam Ward at 11-4-2 with 3+ days rest
As a goalie who has been a starter for the past decade, one had to wonder how well Cam Ward would adjust to more intermittent starts as a backup during the 2017-18 season. Ward has actually thrived with spaced out starts, playing his best hockey with three or more days off. His 11-4-2 record is stellar, and the underlying statistics (.910 save percentage and 2.70 goals against average) are also better than his average.
Jordan Staal with five primary assists on Aho and Teravainen goals
Also borrowing from a previous article, of the 46 goals scored by Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Staal has a primary assist on only five of them. Staal aids any scoring line with his ability to drive possession and get the puck from the defensive zone to the offensive zone. Aho and Teravainen have benefited from this skill set of Staal’s. But I think the low volume of primary assists accurately measures the fact that playmaking is not among Staal’s strongest suits.
Jaccob Slavin’s penalty kill woes
On January 3, I wrote an article that broke down some statistics on the Hurricanes struggling penalty kill. That article surprisingly found a few players thought to be good penalty killers in the middle of a disproportionate number of goals allowed. Marcus Kruger has since been jettisoned in general, but even more bizarre is Jaccob Slavin’s situation. At the time of the article, Slavin had been on the ice for 18 of the 20 power play goals against the Hurricanes. Fast forward to today and the Hurricanes have allowed 17 more power play goals since the start of 2018…And Jaccob Slavin has been on the ice for EVERY one of them. (Because I could not believe what the data was telling me, I manually verified the 11 goals for January and February, so the data seems correct.) As a defenseman who has bee a regular on the penalty kill, it would not be surprising if Jaccob Slavin was on the ice for slightly more than half of the power play goals allowed. He plays slightly more than half of the penalty kill ice time. But being on the ice for 35 out of 37 power play goals against jumps off the stat sheet and is definitely worth some time for the coaches and video scouting team to figure out what is going on.
Who else has statistics that jump out at them when considering the numbers behind the Hurricanes 2017-18 season?