Even though the 2009-10 season was disappointing in many ways, the Carolina Hurricanes were able to maintain consistency in at least one positive area. For the third year in a row, the Canes led the NHL with the most power play opportunities.
Related to that, the team leads the league in total power play opportunities since the lockout.
While the overall number of penalties called throughout the league decreases each year, (as players conform to the rule changes, or refs relax their previous standards), the Hurricanes continue to draw more penalties than anyone else.
- 2009-10 PP 332 1st in league (Dallas 2nd with 328)
- 2008-09 PP 374 1st in league (tie with Montreal)
- 2007-08 PP 420 1st in league (Detroit 2nd with 391)
- 2006-07 PP 447 2nd in league (Pittsburgh 1st with 463)
- 2005-06 PP 531 3rd in league (LA and Phoenix tied for 1st with 541)
The above information shows the total of power play chances the team earned each season, their placement in the league, and who was either immediately above them or below them.
It's great news that the team has consistently been able to draw a large number of penalties over multiple seasons, even though there has been a coaching change and several modifications in player personnel. The bad news is that the Hurricanes have continually struggled to convert those chances.
- 2009-10 PP% 16.9% 20th in league (Washington 1st at 25.2%)
- 2008-09 PP% 18.7% 18th in league (Detroit 1st at 25.5%)
- 2007-08 PP% 18.8% 8th in league (Montreal 1st at 24.1%)
- 2006-07 PP% 15.0% 25th in league (Montreal 1st at 22.8%)
- 2005-06 PP% 17.9% 17th in league (Detroit 1st at 22.1%)
The information above shows Carolina's power play success ratio for each season, their placement in the league, and the team who finished first.
What if the Hurricanes had an elite power play unit? Last season the team converted for 56 power play goals, (which is a 16.9% conversion rate out of 332 chances.) If they could have converted 25% of their chances, the Canes would have scored 83 power play goals, (an increase of 27). Needless to say, that higher number of goals might have had a tremendous affect on the team's win/loss record.
While it's a good thing to lead the league in chances, it's more important to be able to convert those chances. Ask the Capitals, who scored 79 power play goals on just 313 opportunities.
It's no accident that the teams with the higher conversion percentages usually place near the top of the league with wins. Early last season while the Hurricanes were flirting with last place in the league, their conversion rate was wallowng near 13%, also last in the league. When Maurice and company changed up the power play unit and Eric Staal got healthy, the power play goals went up and the wins came.
Next season the defense is loaded with power play specialists and this should directly affect the scoring ratio. Will the Canes be able to break the 20% level for the first time this decade?