A Look At Some Preseason Stats: Do They Matter?

The bad news is, the Carolina Hurricanes did not have the greatest of preseasons this year.  They finished tied for 13th in the conference.

The good news?  Those recent exhibition games did not count toward the regular season and the team will start off at 0-0-0, just like everyone else when the season officially starts later this week.  

Everyone knows that the preseason is just not the same as the regular season.  The intensity is not the same.  There is usually not the same hitting or tough nosed defense.  The coaching staffs are trying different players, different combinations, and different systems. 

But every team is in the same boat. 

Most clubs have completed their preseason schedules, so let's take a look at the records of those in the Eastern Conference, (as of October 2, 2011).  (Teams ranked by percentage of total points won to possible points)

 

NHL Preseason records (as of 10/2/11)
                          Eastern Conference
Wins Losses OTL % GF GA
Pittsburgh 5 1 0 0.833 20 11
Boston 4 1 1 0.750 20 13
Buffalo 4 1 1 0.750 15 13
Philadelphia 4 2 1 0.643 20 15
Toronto  4 4 0 0.500 22 23
Washington 3 3 1 0.500 17 18
Ottawa 3 3 1 0.500 16 20
Winnipeg 3 3 1 0.500 18 19
Tampa Bay 3 3 0 0.500 19 17
New Jersey 3 3 0 0.500 11 14
NY Rangers 1 1 1 0.500 8 10
Montreal 2 6 0 0.250 19 29
Florida 1 4 1 0.250 16 29
Carolina 1 4 1 0.250 11 14
NY Islanders 1 4 0 0.200 11 14

As you can see, three of the four teams with a lower winning percentage than .500 failed to make the playoffs last season.  Does that mean anything or is it just a coincidence?  We'll find out come April.

A couple of other things stand out.  The Canes were among the best in the conference regarding goals allowed per game, (14 in six games for 2.33 average), but they were tied for the worst regarding goals scored per game, (11 in six games for 1.83 average).

Perhaps more importantly, according to CBS Sports.com, the Canes allowed more shots (average per game) than anyone in the league, a six game total of 219, for a per game average of 36.5.  For the record, that is even higher than last season's league worst average of 33.2 per game. 

On the other side of it, the club put a six game total of 157 shots on net for a per game average of 26.2. 

Of course, a six game window is an incredibly small frame to be comparing stats like this.  Carolina's top two scorers, Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner, failed to score a single goal between them this preseason.  When one of them gets hot, those offensive numbers will change quickly and dramatically. 

But it goes without saying that the team has plenty to work on during this final week before the start of the real season.  Line chemistry has still not been developed, the top six on the blueline has yet to be determined, and the powerplay needs more practice. 

And somehow, the team has to get those "shots against" and "shots for" numbers closer together, either by playing tighter defense or by spending more time in the offensive zone.

We'll see how they do.

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