Carolina Hurricanes’ Elimination Highlights Offensive Troubles

The Carolina Hurricanes are looking for answers after elimination.

As the Carolina Hurricanes look to next season, the lack of offense in the series against the Boston Bruins must be addressed.

As the hearts of Caniacs are starting to heal across the world, fans of the Carolina Hurricanes can begin to look to next season optimistically. Although the Canes’ season ended in a First Round elimination against the Boston Bruins, it was a very good run by a young team. However, Stanley Cup hopes for the 2020 season must rest on offensive improvement.

I expected that the game three loss of Andrei Svechnikov would be a blow to the offense of the Carolina Hurricanes, but I did not expect the extent of the difficulty of the last two games.  The Hurricanes outscored the Rangers in the qualifying series 11 to 4, but were outscored by the Boston Bruins 15 to 11 in the first round.

The difference in goal scoring in the first round may not seem drastic on paper, but the series collapsed once the Hurricanes were unable to score points in desperate situations. The qualifying round series against the Rangers was an exhibition of the best of the Carolina Hurricanes, while the first-round series against the Bruins was a portrait of a team that didn’t show up to big games.

This lack of offense is unfortunately not a new trend. Cardiac Cane’s own Conor Power was absolutely right when he wrote that the Hurricanes lack of offense “is simple, there’s no depth scoring.” Unfortunately, the Hurricanes’ offense seems to live and die with the SAT line: Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho, and Tuevo Teravainen.

A look at the scoring chart from the regular season exhibits this issue all too well. Aho, Teravainen, and Svechnikov occupy the top three spots, then Dougie Hamilton, Martin Necas, and Jaccob Slavin occupy spots four through six.

Trust me, I’ll take points wherever they come. At the end of the game, it doesn’t matter which points came from a blueliner and which points came from a forward. However, this shows that outside of the SAT line, offense is difficult for the Carolina Hurricanes.

This problem is apparent in game three. The only goal in 60 minutes from the Carolina Hurricanes was by Nino Niederreiter, who scored on a fluke clear by Bruins’ goaltender Jaroslav Halak. The SAT line did not click this game, and there was no depth to fill in the gap.

Game four featured the worst period of Canes hockey all season, but I must give credit to Justin Williams and Jordan Martinook. Their goals show that the Canes can score outside of the top line, but the issue his this happens too infrequently. Haydn Fleury, among the series MVP’s, scored his second playoff goal in game five as the only goal of the game for the Hurricanes.

As much as I appreciate many of the Carolina Hurricanes’ forwards for their personality and what they bring to the team in the locker room, these players are defined by the points that they produce. Joel Edmunson, Brock McGinn, Justin Williams, Nino Niederreiter, and Jordan Martinook were the only forwards that scored goals outside of the SAT line in the Boston series.

Fortunately, there were some positive scoring trends for the Carolina Hurricanes from the defense. Dougie Hamilton, who finally returned after several injuries that caused him to miss the qualifying round series, claimed a goal and an assist against Boston. Hadyn Fleury scored two goals, and Brady Skjei claimed an assist.

On offense, besides the aforementioned players who scored above, there are a few players who I believe will have a strong impact next season. Vincent Trocheck, who was all over the ice on the cusp of several great moments, acquired two assists against Boston. Martin Necas, a player that I believe will continue to exceed expectations, also had two assists.

How can the Hurricanes fix this scoring problem? Well, like most problems, there isn’t a simple answer. First, I believe that Vincent Trocheck could be a big name for Carolina in the upcoming season. He seems to have fully acclimated to the Canes’ system and has the energy to make plays happen.

Furthermore, young players like Haydn Fleury and Martin Necas, while they have both already been outstanding in their young careers, will continue to improve with time and experience. I expect both names to be standouts this year.

Other players, such as Jordan Staal, Nino Niederreiter, and Brock McGinn need to rediscover their scoring potential. As much as I value Staal’s defensive contributions and think that they are more important to the team than most critics realize, I believe that it is essential that is able to rediscover his ability to score goals.

I believe the Hurricanes must also look to acquire some scoring prowess for the upcoming year. I return to Sara Civian’s article for the Athletic (paywall) about the Hurricanes’ cap spending often because I think it’s a very accurate assessment of the cap situation. The only thing I disagree with is the fact that she didn’t add any offensive picks from outside the roster.

Ryan Suzuki and Morgan Geekie are both added as forwards, and I don’t think this is a bad move whatsoever. Geekie has proven to be a hard worker with a high ceiling, and while Suzuki needs a shot to prove himself, I think that the potential is there. However, I also think the Canes have to consider spending money to bring in talent that will be able to hit the ground and produce points.

While it’s hard not to feel doom and gloom because the Carolina Hurricanes are eliminated from the playoffs, I truly believe we have yet to see the best years from this team. With a few tweaks and the lessons learned from this year’s postseason, I believe that we can see this team back in the Stanley Cup race in just a matter of months.

Question for CC Readers: Where do you think the Carolina Hurricanes should go from here?

Next: Carolina Hurricanes Season Ends With Game Five Loss Against Bruins