Special Teams Can Make or Break a Series
Special Teams was important for the Carolina Hurricanes
Probably the biggest reason the Carolina Hurricanes were swept by the Boston Bruins in the conference finals was their lack of special teams success. Although it’s never been a hallmark of the team, both the power play and penalty kill took a big hit in the playoffs.
During the 2018-19 regular season the Hurricanes’ power play produced at 17.8% rate, where as the penalty kill operated at a 81.6% efficiency. In the postseason, the power play fell to a success rate of 9% while the PK dropped to a 68% conversion rate.
In a short seven game series you need your special teams to capitalize whenever given a chance and the Canes failed to do so. Only finding the back of the net on five of their 52 power play chances, they need to see some improvement if they want to take another step forward this time around.
While you can’t win games on the man advantage, you can certainly lose it. Killing off only 35 of 51 of opposing team’s power plays throughout the postseason, it is clear that this was arguably the biggest cause for concern last spring. In the Hurricanes’ eight wins they only gave up a combined four PP goals against, good for .5 goals against per game.
On the flip side, in their seven losses, they gave up 12 PP goals, or a whopping 1.7 per, this needs to be addressed.
When you watch Hurricanes game Trip Tracy always says that if you want to have success you need your special teams’ percentages to add up to 100%, with anything over that a bonus. In the regular season the numbers did just that with a combined percentage of 99.4, which is close enough. In the playoffs however, their numbers only added up to 77, cleary not good enough.
A tough lesson to learn, let us hope that the story will be a bit different this time around. If the regular season is any indicator of what’s to come, the Hurricanes actual took some huge strides forward this year with their power play. Jumping up a bit to a 22.3% success rate, they were among the top ten teams in the league, finishing eighth.
On the penalty kill they finished among the top five teams during the regular season with a 84% efficiency. When you add the two percentages up, the Canes special teams combined to 106.3, much better than previous years.
As we saw last year however, the regular season doesn’t dictate how things will go in the playoffs, especially after this long hiatus. But we can hope that the positive steps taken will translate to a better performance in the postseason this time around.