The Hurricanes started the season red hot scoring 22 goals in the first five games for an average of 4.4 goals per game. The early surge seemed to suggest that the team had finally found ever-elusive depth scoring. But two factors maybe made this a bit overstated. First, the scoring was driven by huge, realistically unsustainable, contributions from the blue line, with eight goals in the first five games. Dougie Hamilton has continued his torrid pace, but even with that included the blue line has scored the same eight goals over the next 13 games. Second, measuring scoring during a short burst when a team is red hot is always going to be overstated. The Hurricanes three goals per game since the 5-0 start looks decent, but it features sporadic outbursts that inflate the average. In 13 games since hot start, the Hurricanes have scored two or fewer goals in eight of those 13 games.
But I think there is plenty of room for upside and still hope that the team is in fact improved in terms of depth scoring.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe considers areas for potential gains in goal scoring as the season progresses.
Last year’s leaders
With a couple empty-netters and a couple multi-goal games, Sebastian Aho has actually boosted his pace despite his up and down play, but 2018-19 line mates Teuvo Teravainen and Nino Niederreiter are on pace for only 18 and 9 goals respectively. I actually think that Teravainen’s play has been strong. His scoring will likely be based on whether he stays on Staal’s line which tamps down production. Niederreiter needs to produce much more. He was quiet early but has also been somewhat snake bit of late. It is reasonable to expect more from both players.
The top power play unit
The power play production has been respectable thus far, but it is really a tale of two different units. The second unit was red hot early and in general has been the better group. The first power play unit that theoretically has as much or more fire power has not really got going yet. Sebastian Aho has yet to score a power play goal. Jake Gardiner who is quarterbacking that unit at the top of the umbrella has a mere two power play assists. There is enough fire power that the group should hopefully find a higher gear at some point.
Depth scoring from the bottom six forwards
The Canes community likes to rave about the potential for depth scoring with the combination of additions and potential help from younger players. But now 18 games into the 2019-20 season that has not really been realized. Erik Haula is the one huge exception with five even strength goals and eight total. But now 18 games into the season, Ryan Dzingel is on pace for a modest 18 goals and only 12 at even strength. I like Martin Necas’ development and game so far in 2019-20, but could he have a higher gear than that same 18-goal pace with only half that at even strength.
The players generally playing on the fourth line have been even lighter scoring-wise. When one considers that both of Warren Foegele’s goals came after he was elevated off of the fourth line, the fourth line has a meager three goals to its credit. That pace would make for a meager four or five goals per fourth line forward. By no means can this group be expected to match higher lines with their limited minutes and power play time. But 13-14 goals in total is not enough from the fourth line.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you see any other sources for goal scoring upside?
2) Which of the items that I mentioned is most likely to increase significantly?