What Went Wrong, Part One: The Powerplay

There have been several reasons given why the Carolina Hurricanes did not make the playoffs this past season.  Youth, inexperience, team defense, team size, and coaching have all been brought up by fans on more than one occasion. 

But even after taking all of those possible reasons into consideration, the team would have still made the playoffs if they had a respectable powerplay.   

What exactly is a respectable powerplay?  At the very least, probably one that is ranked in the top half of the league.  The Hurricanes were tied for 23rd in the league last season.  As you can see from the chart below, their 15.9% success rate was the team's lowest percentage in the past four years.

Their 55 goals scored while with the man advantage is their lowest total since the 2003-04 season when they could only muster a measly 41 goals.

Year NHL PP PP PP NHL Top
Rank Chances Goals % %
2010-11 23rd 346 55 15.9% 24.3%
2009-10 22nd 332 56 16.9% 25.2%
2008-09 18th 374 70 18.7% 25.5%
2007-08 8th 420 79 18.8% 24.1%
2006-07 25th 447 67 15.0% 22.8%
2005-06 17th 531 95 17.9% 22.1%
2003-04 30th 384 41 10.6% 21.5%
2002-03 27th 420 58 13.8% 23.8%
2001-02 12th 391 63 16.1% 20.6%
 

Since the team only missed the postseason by one win, or two points, an extra goal here or there could have made a tremendous difference. 

If the team would have finished in 15th place, which had a 17.5% ratio, that would have meant an additional six goals considering the same opportunities, (346).   

Would those six goals have put them in the playoffs?  Probably, but we will never know for sure.

Team Home: GP PP Opp PPG PP% Road: GP PP Opp PPG PP% Total: GP PP Opp PPG PP% SHGA
1 VAN 41 146 30 20.6 41 150 42 28.0 82 296 72 24.3 2
2 SJS 41 153 41 26.8 41 136 27 19.8 82 289 68 23.5 7
3 ANA 41 149 38 25.5 41 136 29 21.3 82 285 67 23.5 7
4 CHI 41 142 35 24.6 41 135 29 21.5 82 277 64 23.1 4
5 DET 41 154 32 20.8 41 147 35 23.8 82 301 67 22.3 7
6 TBL 41 178 40 22.5 41 158 29 18.4 82 336 69 20.5 16
7 MTL 41 150 29 19.3 41 140 28 20.0 82 290 57 19.7 6
8 CGY 41 160 41 25.6 41 158 21 13.3 82 318 62 19.5 9
9 BUF 41 139 30 21.6 41 140 24 17.1 82 279 54 19.4 13
10 STL 41 151 31 20.5 41 128 21 16.4 82 279 52 18.6 1
11 COL 41 140 27 19.3 41 125 22 17.6 82 265 49 18.5 11
12 ATL 41 142 24 16.9 41 147 29 19.7 82 289 53 18.3 10
13 MIN 41 152 30 19.7 41 140 23 16.4 82 292 53 18.2 7
14 DAL 41 169 36 21.3 41 137 19 13.9 82 306 55 18.0 15
15 OTT 41 130 27 20.8 41 127 18 14.2 82 257 45 17.5 4
16 WSH 41 145 27 18.6 41 118 19 16.1 82 263 46 17.5 5
17 NYI 41 162 25 15.4 41 140 27 19.3 82 302 52 17.2 7
18 NYR 41 151 28 18.5 41 139 21 15.1 82 290 49 16.9 5
19 PHI 41 163 29 17.8 41 132 20 15.2 82 295 49 16.6 5
20 BOS 41 143 22 15.4 41 122 21 17.2 82 265 43 16.2 5
21 LAK 41 162 26 16.0 41 130 21 16.2 82 292 47 16.1 6
22 TOR 41 155 26 16.8 41 171 26 15.2 82 326 52 16.0 8
23 PHX 41 135 24 17.8 41 154 22 14.3 82 289 46 15.9 6
24 CAR 41 181 32 17.7 41 165 23 13.9 82 346 55 15.9 6
25 PIT 41 157 22 14.0 41 154 27 17.5 82 311 49 15.8 6
26 NSH 41 147 24 16.3 41 122 17 13.9 82 269 41 15.2 2
27 EDM 41 158 23 14.6 41 146 21 14.4 82 304 44 14.5 2
28 NJD 41 114 16 14.0 41 123 18 14.6 82 237 34 14.4 8
29 CBJ 41 166 21 12.6 41 135 21 15.6 82 301 42 14.0 11
30 FLA 41 140 20 14.3 41 127 15 11.8 82 267 35 13.1 5

 

So, why did the powerplay fail?  Why was it worse than last year?

The funny thing is, the team felt good about the pwerplay at the beginning of the year.  They felt they made a couple of improvements in that area, at least at the backend. 

Anton Babchuk was re-signed,  Jamie McBain was expected to be a key piece, while Joe Corvo and Joni Pitkanen were supposed to be the drivers. 

Corvo did his part and chipped in with five powerplay goals, but Pitkanen, McBain, and Babchuk, (while he was here) only had one goal each with the man advantage. 

Eric Staal led the way with the most powerplay time and also led the team with 12 powerplay goals.  He was followed in goals by Tuomo Ruutu, (8), and Jussi Jokinen, (7). 

Corvo was second on the team in powerplay time and Pitkanen was third. 

Corvo also led the team with 18 powerplay assists followed by Staal who had 17.  Next up was Skinner with 12.

Pitkanen had 11 assists and his total of 12 powerplay points put him at sixth place on the team for powerplay scoring. 

Carolina Powerplay Points from NHL.com

The Canes had a couple of horrendous streaks during the season which hurt them. At one time they were 0-for-33 and another time, 3-for-78.  One could blame that on youth, and while McBain and Jeff Skinner did get plenty of powerplay time, the other major ice eaters were more experienced players.  

So, what do the Canes need to do to improve the powerplay for next season and get in the top half of the league?  Is the problem coaching or systematic?  Is it personnel?  Is it something else?

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