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The Hurricanes in Overtime: Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here

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Since the dawn of the 3-on-3 overtime period, extra hockey has become synonymous with heartbreak for the Hurricanes. Just how bad are they in overtime?

Carolina Hurricanes v Anaheim Ducks Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

After a grueling shootout loss at the hands of the 2-12-1 Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night, the Carolina Hurricanes have dropped to 1-3 in games that extend past 60 minutes, those games accounting for four of their 12 matchups this season. That record is really no surprise and, given past performance, there’s no reason to believe that a larger sample size will make this data much prettier.

You’ll recall that the Hurricanes pushed quite a few games last season past the third period: 23, more than a quarter of their games. Over the past two seasons, the team ranked 3rd in the league in overtime games played (49). With all that experience, one would think they’d have a good handle on how to secure the elusive second point, right?

Wrong. The Hurricanes rank 27th in the NHL in OT win percentage at 37% during that time frame. So what gives? Why can’t this team figure out overtime?

The following table displays OT/SO statistics for the two full seasons that date back to the beginning of the 3-on-3 experiment in 2015. (It does not include this season, owing to differences in games played.)

NHL 3-on-3 Statistics

Team OT Win OT Loss SO Win SO Loss OT GP SO GP OT/SO GP OT Win % SO Win % OT/SO Win %
Team OT Win OT Loss SO Win SO Loss OT GP SO GP OT/SO GP OT Win % SO Win % OT/SO Win %
ANA 7 17 6 7 24 13 37 29.17% 46.15% 35.14%
ARI 9 15 7 3 24 10 34 37.50% 70.00% 47.06%
BOS 9 11 6 5 20 11 31 45.00% 54.55% 48.39%
BUF 10 10 4 13 20 17 37 50.00% 23.53% 37.84%
CGY 18 6 6 5 24 11 35 75.00% 54.55% 68.57%
CAR 13 20 5 11 33 16 49 39.39% 31.25% 36.73%
CHI 19 15 5 3 34 8 42 55.88% 62.50% 57.14%
COL 9 6 5 2 15 7 22 60.00% 71.43% 63.64%
CBJ 11 10 8 6 21 14 35 52.38% 57.14% 54.29%
DAL 11 16 3 4 27 7 34 40.74% 42.86% 41.18%
DET 16 19 11 5 35 16 51 45.71% 68.75% 52.94%
EDM 13 9 8 8 22 16 38 59.09% 50.00% 55.26%
FLA 8 11 12 9 19 21 40 42.11% 57.14% 50.00%
LAK 24 7 4 7 31 11 42 77.42% 36.36% 66.67%
MIN 5 15 6 4 20 10 30 25.00% 60.00% 36.67%
MTL 14 10 8 5 24 13 37 58.33% 61.54% 59.46%
NSH 6 20 6 6 26 12 38 23.08% 50.00% 31.58%
NJD 16 13 5 9 29 14 43 55.17% 35.71% 48.84%
NYI 12 13 7 9 25 16 41 48.00% 43.75% 46.34%
NYR 9 9 6 6 18 12 30 50.00% 50.00% 50.00%
OTT 10 9 12 10 19 22 41 52.63% 54.55% 53.66%
PHL 17 11 10 13 28 23 51 60.71% 43.48% 52.94%
PIT 12 10 8 9 22 17 39 54.55% 47.06% 51.28%
SJS 11 9 6 4 20 10 30 55.00% 60.00% 56.67%
STL 14 10 7 6 24 13 37 58.33% 53.85% 56.76%
TBL 13 9 7 6 22 13 35 59.09% 53.85% 57.14%
TOR 9 12 7 14 21 21 42 42.86% 33.33% 38.10%
VAN 11 16 9 6 27 15 42 40.74% 60.00% 47.62%
WSH 15 9 6 7 24 13 37 62.50% 46.15% 56.76%
WPG 7 11 6 4 18 10 28 38.89% 60.00% 46.43%
Overtime & Shootout Statistics in 3-on-3 Era

While looking at this table, the team that immediately stuck out to me was the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mike Babcock has been at the helm in Toronto since the inception of the 3-on-3 overtime period. In that time frame, Babcock’s Maple Leafs have played 42 overtime games, tied for 5th most in the league, and have a similarly ugly win percentage to that of the Canes, at just 38%. Is it a coincidence that Babcock and his protege have comparable - and hideous - overtime records?

Perhaps this comparison puts too much emphasis on the coaching, especially given that both coaches have been tasked with leading some of the lesser talented teams in hockey since the 3-on-3 format was established. But the Leafs were talented enough to be a playoff team last year while tying for the most OT losses in the league. Who do you think they tied with in that column?

You guessed it: the Carolina Hurricanes.

I know it’s easy to point the finger at Bill Peters’ system here, especially right now. And I agree to an extent. Kyle outlined it perfectly on Saturday night here:

I can (kind of) understand some of Peters’ questionable overtime moves over his tenure, such as running out two defensemen during the OT period. But calling on two bottom six NHLers in an outright skills competition really is indefensible.

Furthermore, Peters seems to be reluctant to send his more skilled forwards out in the overtime period. You won’t be surprised to find that the Canes have been outscored in the overtime period by a margin of 20-13 since the 2015 season. What may be surprising, however, are the players featured on the OT goals leaderboard. Among the Canes’ leaders in overtime goals are both Phil Di Giuseppe and Ron Hainsey. Both players, while important pieces of the Hurricanes’ lineup in recent years, don’t match up with what other teams throw at the Canes in the overtime period.

Atop the list of leading scorers against the Hurricanes in the extra period? Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, aka “Mr. Overtime”. The remainder of the list is outlined by mostly top-6, if not top-line, talent featuring the likes of Jakub Voracek, John Tavares, Alex Ovechkin, Brayden Schenn, Jack Eichel and others. Players of the caliber of Hainsey and PDG simply do not match up with these types of talents in a 3-on-3 competition that heavily favors speed, skill, and creativity.

There’s a clear disparity between players the Hurricanes feature in the overtime period and players their opponents choose to matchup with. It’s probably not fair to blame it entirely on either coaching or execution, although there’s undoubtedly an element of both.

Although I maintain that a player like Jeff Skinner, who relies heavily on his linemates to unlock his elite scoring potential, is not fit for the wide openness of the 3-on-3 overtime, there’s no excuse for why Peters refuses to call on his other skilled offensive weapons in OT. I do not understand why Williams, Rask, and Lindholm are passed on in favor of depth center Derek Ryan. And consistently rolling out two non-offensive defensemen along with a lone forward hasn’t been producing necessary goals. I still maintain that Bill Peters is the right fit here in Carolina — I believe in his ability to be an exceptional coach in this league, but the fourth-year bench boss needs to address his strategy in the overtime period as it’s clearly not getting the job done.

I know it’s easy to only point the finger at Peters here, especially at the moment. But there are certainly other factors at play. Take, for example, the goaltending. It will come as no surprise that Cam Ward has faced the second most shootout attempts in the league since 2015-16. How has he fared? Well, he’s 29th out of the 33 goalies that faced 20 or more shootout attempts in the past two seasons. He actually looked sharp in 2015-16, sitting at 12th in the league (among goalies who saw 10 or more shootout attempts) with a shootout save percentage of .714.

However, last year the book was clearly out. Ward saw 24 attempts and saved just 12 of them for a SV% of .500. good for second worst in the league among goalies who saw more than 10 attempts. Surprisingly, Eddie Lack only saw 3 shootout attempts in 52 games played in Carolina. The Hurricanes have been incredibly bad in the shootout, and the goaltending situation over the past two seasons has been a major factor in that.

The Hurricanes won just 5 out of 20 games last season that extended past 60 minutes of play. What if the team had just an average, or even an above average track record in the extra period? Had they hit the league average, they would have won 10 total OT/SO games, collecting 5 more points on the season. That would have given them 92 points, 3 short of the Leafs for the WC2 spot. But what if they were better than average? It could have vaulted them into playoff contention.

The Carolina Hurricanes desperately need to figure out overtime — the outcome of the season may very well hinge on it.