I have read quite a few stories, or comments discussing the play of Carolina Hurricanes Captain Eric Staal. The season has started out slow for Staal, and quite a few stories came out about how he was having problems dealing with the hit he put on his brother Marc Staal on February 22, 2011. Through the midway point of the season Eric has had a sluggish start when you look at the number of goals he has put up, but is Staal really having an off year?
Let’s take a look at Staal’s current stats, and then look back on his past stats. So far this year Staal has accumulated 11 goals and 25 assists for a total of 36 points. His plus/minus rating through 50 games is -22. Those are not great numbers are they? Eric is the captain, and currently makes $7,750,000 per year. Here is what I also know.
Historically Staal’s +/- has not been great. When the Canes won the Stanley Cup back in 2005-2006, his rating was a -8. During that year Staal also put up 100 points. 45 coming from goals, and 55 from assists. In 2006-2007 he was a -6 with 70 points total. 2007-2008, a minus 2 rating accumulating 38 goals and 44 assists. 2008-2009 he was a plus 15 with 75 points, and in 2009-2010 he also was above the minus mark with a +4. Ironically, during these years that he was a plus 15 and plus 4, Staal only accumulated 70 and 75 points.
I know, I hate numbers too, but it is very interesting to me that during Staal’s “slow years” in the plus/minus column he also ends up putting up more points. For a high paid captain, Eric should have more goals. God knows when I watch him, he has plenty of scoring chances, yet the breaks aren’t coming for him. Is the problem really Staal, or is he playing a different style of hockey. We all know Eric for his nasty wrist shot, pretty dekes, and confident smile. I believe that Eric is adjusting his game to create scoring chances for his teammates. It’s called unselfish hockey folks.
Staal is a big boy. 6’4, 205 pounds, and a lefty shot. He draws attention to himself. His skating ability, puck control, and vision are all very deadly. You WANT him on your team. Would you rather face him in a game Caniacs? There are plenty of teams out there that would love to have him on their team. Be grateful that he is here, and cut the man some slack.
The Canes currently sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 43 points. Dead last. Look at the standings, we are only 10 points out of a playoff spot. My faith in the Canes is as strong as it was in the beginning of the season. The team is molding together, and for the past couple of weeks, we have been in every game. Support your Canes, and especially your captain.