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.
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.
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.
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?