Hurricanes’ 2021 stats:
- 36-12-8 record in 56 games
- 80 points, .714 points percentage, best in Central Division, third in league
- 3.13 goals per game (11th in league)
- 2.39 goals-against per game (tied for fourth fewest)
- 25.6 power-play percentage (second)
- 85.2 penalty kill percentage (third)
The Hurricanes enjoyed arguably their best regular season in franchise history last year, and the coaching staff was rewarded handsomely for it, with Rod Brind’Amour winning the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year.
All throughout the season, Brind’Amour and his coaching staff guided the team through difficult circumstances - including the challenges every team faced of playing a condensed, 56-game schedule with rest at a minimum, playing the same teams over and over again and playing a good chunk of the season in front of empty stadiums. Any coaching staff that guided its team through all of that to a successful season deserves credit.
But the Hurricanes faced plenty of adversity right off the bat, including a 10-day COVID pause just two games into the season, and having to play without several lineup regulars due to COVID protocols for a few games upon returning.
While the Hurricanes were mostly healthy throughout the year, they did face some key injuries, as Teuvo Teravainen played just played just 21 games due to COVID and then concussion symptoms, Petr Mrazek missed a big chunk of the year with two injuries and No. 2 center Vincent Trocheck missed some time as well.
Despite all that, Carolina rolled through the regular season, winning its first division title since 2006 in a group that included two other top-eight teams in the league. Carolina excelled in just about every facet of the game, finishing 11th in goals per game, allowing the fifth fewest per game and finishing in the top three on both special teams units.
Goalie coach Paul Schonfelder should get some praise as well for managing the Hurricanes’ crease so well despite Mrazek’s lengthy absences, aided by Alex Nedeljkovic’s breakout year.
While the Canes coaching did not enjoy nearly as strong of a playoff performance - Carolina was frustrated by Nashville and had few to no answers for the challenges Tampa Bay presented, Brind’Amour and his staff put out a great coaching performance as a whole last year, and the team should be glad to have Brind’Amour under contract for three more years.
Management probably doesn’t get as strong of a mark for last season. Don Waddell and co didn’t make many major moves going into the year, though, with limited cap space and core pretty much locked in, they didn’t really need to.
In season, however, there may have been some missed opportunities. The Canes did fill a need and clear some cap space by trading Ryan Dzingel, who was never really a fit in Carolina, for Cedric Paquette, but never really did anything with that cap space.
Other than trading Haydn Fleury to bring in Jani Hakanpaa as a physical presence on the third pairing, the Canes didn’t do much at the trade deadline. Might they have been well served adding some forward depth, especially in hindsight with the injuries to Vincent Trocheck and Nino Niederreiter in the Tampa Bay series?
The Hurricanes didn’t need any major moves thanks to the strong core already put in place by previous shrewd moves by Waddell and his staff, but a team with Stanley Cup aspirations could have been just a bit more active.
How would you grade the Hurricanes’ coaching and front office staff’s 2020-21 performance?
This poll is closed
A - Outstanding Performance
B - Above Average Performance
C - Average Performance
D - Below Average Performance
F - Significantly Below Average Performance