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By The Numbers: Secondary Scoring or Lack Thereof

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The Hurricanes’ balanced offensive start felt just too good to be true, and maybe it was.

Jamie Kellner

Just 12 games into the season the Hurricanes sit at 6-5-1. A start like this wouldn’t normally be considered bad, especially for a team that’s historically struggled getting the wheels moving in the early weeks of the season. So no, an October in which the Canes escape one game over hockey .500 certainly isn’t season-damning.

But just two-and-a-half weeks ago, the Hurricanes came out of a matchup in St. Paul, Minnesota with a shootout win that carried them to 4-0-1 and the most points in the league. Their record in the seven games suceeding that electric win? 2-5-0.

Despite the bleak end to October, the brightest shining star in this Hurricanes organization has been Sebastian Aho, who assisted in a goal and subsequently broke Ron Francis’ franchise record 11 game point streak to open a season. But the glaring issue is that the Sebastian Aho-centered top line is the only one producing any semblance of offense.

The narrative about Carolina for the last five to 10 years has been that the team has lacked top end scoring talent. A good club, to be sure, but one desperately in need of a top line centerman as well as an elite winger or two to provide primary scoring in a Metropolitan Division that’s swimming with that type of lethal talent. The funny thing about this year is that the Micheal Ferland - Aho - Teuvo Teravainen tandem has had no problem generating offense — or scoring goals for that matter. And they’re doing it better than almost every scoring line in the NHL.

The Hurricanes’ top line is tied for third in the league for most productive line in terms of total goals scored with 10 (the league leading Colorado Avalanche top line has 12). And they’re not only scoring goals, they’re also generating a ton of high danger shots. Their 52.11% HDCF%, which is nearly four points higher than that elite Colorado line, indicates that they’re earning their goals and not relying heavily on puck luck.

A quick look at the team’s stat sheet further confirms that the Canes top line is carrying offensive production. Aho is sporting 17 points in 12 games, while Ferland and Teravainen sit a country mile behind him with 11 points each. The next closest player is Justin Williams with eight points. Like most Hurricanes players, Williams got off to a really hot start, logging seven points in the first nine games. He hasn’t made any offensive noise since then.

Rookie Warren Foegele also got off to an electric start, earning himself four points in the first four games. But he seems to be coming back down to earth a bit as he’s only tallied one point in the club’s last eight games.

But what I think is the most impactful offensive drought on the team is that of Jordan Staal, who logged six points in his first five games, including a two goal and three point night against the Rangers. After a quiet couple of weeks, he finally broke his six game point drought with an assist on Tuesday night’s loss. And that point didn’t even come with his linemates on the ice.

Staal is such a valuable player because he’s a lights-out defensive centerman for close to 82 games a year, but when he gets his offense going it really opens up the game for the other lines. We saw a flash of it at the beginning of the season and if Rod Brind’Amour can tweak things to rekindle him, it would go a long way in getting the team back up to speed.

Since the start of the seven game 2-5-0 slide, the Hurricanes have scored just 13 goals. Seven of those have come from either Ferland, Aho, or Teravainen. There were a lot of great things to build on last month, but a 2-5-0 stretch in which the Canes’ bottom 9 forwards scored only 5 goals is not one of them. Brind’Amour is a rookie coach and it’s easy to forget that he’s still learning on the job. He’s been hesitant to shuffle his lines up to this point in the season, but the way I see it, changes have to be made to the forward corps in order to get this train back on the tracks.