The Tampa Bay Lightning
The Carolina Hurricanes could be off to a battle of the elements
The Hurricanes can continue their success against the Lightning in a potential playoff series by neutralizing the Lightning’s lethal power play.
The Tampa Bay Lightning fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year, but it would be foolish for NHL fans to take the team lightly. They have cultivated a dominating presence in the Atlantic Division in a large part due to their lethal power play, which ranks fifth in the league.
This ranking includes an 81.4% defense against opponent’s power plays while scoring on 23% of their own power play. This is no doubt a lethal combination and one that any potential playoff opponent must be concerned about.
The good news for the Hurricanes is that in the three-game regular-season series, the Lightning have only scored two times in twelve power play opportunities. This is an example of the Canes’ elite power-play defense, which has an 84% rate of success in keeping their opponents scoreless in their power-play attempts.
The Canes were able to score in three power plays out of 18, two during the October 6th contest against the Lightning. Both goals occur on similar plays, and highlight the key to scoring against a team with an elite penalty kill.
I can’t get enough of this power-play goal because it exemplifies the magic the team can make when they post up at the net and capitalize on powerful shots from someone like Dougie Hamilton. A net-front presence not only limits the netminders’ field of vision, but also gives the power-play unit a second chance to knock in a rebound or redirect the puck into the net.
The Canes power-play unit isn’t the only impressive unit, the penalty kill unit also shines in this game. The penalty kill unit kept the Lightning scoreless in 15 shots in four power-play opportunities.
The return of Dougie Hamilton will enhance both the Canes’ power-play unit and the penalty kill unit. Although Jacob Slavin has kept the units strong in Hamilton’s absence, depth has never hurt a team and both units may be stronger than ever.
The Canes are in a prime position in this unique playoff format. By taking lessons learned from the regular-season series against these four teams, the Carolina Hurricanes can thrive in a deep playoff run.