Victor Rask is in his longest scoring slump since his rookie year.
On January 14th, the Carolina Hurricanes were on a four-game win streak and averaged over five goals a game. The young team was in the midst of a playoff push, only three points out of the final wildcard spot. During the same span, Victor Rask was on a point-per-game pace. It looked as if he was ready to make the proverbial next step and firm up his position as the Hurricanes’ bonafide number one center. However, times changed. Carolina has lost seven of the last ten and Rask has not found the score sheet. It has been over a month since the 23-year-old recorded an NHL point. Consequently, the Hurricanes quickly played themselves out of a playoff position.
Over the past month, Victor Rask averaged only 15.5 minutes per game — down from his 17.8-minute season average. There are currently six Carolina Hurricanes’ forwards getting more playing time. One of those players is Derek Ryan. No slight to Ryan, but Rask is losing playing time to a thirty-year-old AHL call up. Below is a graph from hockeyviz that shows how the coaching staff is losing faith in Rask. The blue arrow denotes Rask’s playing time in relation to other forwards on the team. His time-on-ice has been cut drastically over the last 20 games.
Rask’s playing time isn’t the only part of his game going the wrong direction. In this Corsica graphic, you can see that Rask’s shooting-percentage (Sh%) has also been declining rapidly. League average Sh% during even-strength play is a little over eight percent. Since December 1st, Rask carries a 5.8 shooting-percentage. Like most stats, Sh% has a way of averaging out over time. Canes fans should expect Rask’s Sh% to start creeping back up, resulting in more frequent appearances in the box score.
The shots just aren’t falling.
However, when looking at Rask’s Expected Goals per 60 Minutes (xGF60) — the young Swede is actually faring pretty well. During his scoring drought, Rask holds a 2.86 xGF60. Among forwards, the NHL average this season is 2.35. He is offensively out-performing a majority of his peers. Unfortunately, the pucks are not finding the back of the net.
Here is a different scenario with the same result. In regards Corsi-For Percentage (CF%), Rask is sporting a respectable 51.46 CF% over the last ten games. As depicted in the Corsica chart below, he is actually playing better hockey now than he was before his scoring drought.
The Swede will bounce back.
Canes fans should not worry about Victor Rask’s performance. Many consider him a veteran, but often forget that this is only in his third year in the league. All players go through stretches where the bounces just aren’t favorable. Rask is no exception. All signs point to his recent production (or lack thereof) just being a slump, nothing more. The Carolina Hurricanes have many glaring weaknesses that need be addressed; Victor Rask is not one of them.