Now 20 games into the season, the Carolina Hurricanes continue to be last in the NHL regarding faceoff percentage, but there is good news. They are improving.
After 10 games, the Canes were winning 38.1% of their draws. They are now winning at a 39.9% clip.
I asked Paul Maurice about the team's faceoff situation after practice this morning.
"It's improving," the coach said. "Eric Staal is doing better and Brandon Sutter is improving as he's getting healthier. An injury affected him earlier in the year. Ruutu is also getting better."
The numbers back up what the coach said. Eric Staal has gone from 39.4% at 10 games to 42.9% presently. Brandon Sutter was at a dismal 30.2%, but now is 37.8%. Tuomo Ruutu has not been at the position long enough to draw any conclusions.
"Ron Francis has been working on it with them and it's about more than what happens in the circle, it's about the entire line fighting for possession of the puck," said Maurice.
After the jump, let's check out some other team stats.
- Penalty Kill: 75.3% 27th in the league
- Powerplay: 14.9% 22nd in the league
- Winning percentage when outshooting opponent: .556
- Winning percentage when outshot by opponent: .364
- Goals Scored: 3.10 average, tied for 5th in league
- Goals Allowed: 3.30 average, tied for 28th in league
- Average Penalty minutes per game: 10.5 PIM, 4th lowest in league
- Minor penalty minutes: 80 PIM, 9th lowest in league
- Major penalties: 4 majors, tied for lowest in league with Florida
- The Canes are 5-3-1 at home and 4-6-1 away.
- In their first 10 games they were 5-5, in their last 10 games they are 4-4-2.
- They are 6-1 against non playoff teams from last year.
- They are 3-8-2 against playoff teams from last year.
There is certainly room for improvement on some of those stats, most notably the goals allowed per game. But who thought that the Canes would be in the top 10 in scoring? This was supposed to be a "scoring challenged" bunch.
The powerplay has improved a bit. It was clicking at 13% earlier in the season. But Carolina has never really been known to have a lethal powerplay, (at least not recently), as last season it placed 22nd in the league at 16.9%. They still have plenty of work to do there.
The penalty kill is unusually low for this group. Last season the kill finished at 80.6% which was good for 19th best in the league.
As Maurice also noted after practice, the team has pretty much beaten the teams they should have beaten, (non playoff), but they have had trouble against the better teams. They will have a severe test the coming week as they face Washington twice, (home and away), as well as Boston in Beantown the day after Thanksgiving.
Can the Hurricanes improve enough to get over the hump of mediocrity?