As of their 5-3 win against the Buffalo Sabres on April 7, the Carolina Hurricanes are heading to their fourth-straight playoffs. Center Sebastian Aho has been a contributor to the Canes for all four of these consecutive playoff-resulting seasons but has fallen short of Cory Stillman‘s record-holding 1.040 post-season points per game. This could be the year that changes.
Left-wing Stillman played for the Hurricanes from 2005-2008 and again in the 2010-2011 season. During the team’s 2006 post-season run that resulted in a Stanley Cup, Stillman accumulated 26 points over the course of 25 post-season games for 1.040 post-season points per game. This would also serve as his average post-season points per game in his career as a Cane, setting a franchise record that has yet to be broken,
Aho is coming close to this feat, with 1.029 average points per goal in his three postseasons with Carolina. In last year’s postseason, he put up 11 points in 11 games for an even 1 point per game. Aho had a standout performance in the 2019-20 postseason, with 12 points in his 8 games played for 1.5 points per game. Even the left wing’s first NHL postseason was admirable.
In the 2018-19 playoffs, the first of his career, the Finn had 12 points in 15 games for .800 points per game. This puts his average at 1.029, just shy of Stillman’s franchise record. This season could be the tipping point for Aho to overtake the Hurricanes’ post-season points per game record.
Offensive dominance will be essential in Aho breaking this record. Apart from just putting himself on the scoreboard, the first-line center will need to aid his teammates on the ice to boost his points per game through assists. This shouldn’t be an issue for Aho, who had 5 assists in his 11 games last postseason and leads the Canes in assists this season. He also leads the team in goals.
For the 2021-22 season so far, Aho has 76 points in 73 games played for 1.041 points per game. This is higher than Stillman’s post-season points per game, but it’s notable to mention that he has had 73 games to achieve this. This high number of games played allows for significant room for error, meaning Aho can have some stellar games and some slower offensive games and still have a high number of points per game.
Aho has proven that he is capable of overtaking Stillman’s record, but he can’t do it without help. The more postseason games the team plays, the more room Aho has for error.
Things look hopeful for the Hurricanes’ fourth consecutive post-season appearance. The team has led the Metropolitan Division for the majority of this season, and Aho leads in goals and assists. The Hurricanes will need to continue their success through several rounds of post-season play and Aho will need to continue his offensive dominance for the Finnish forward to beat Stillman’s post-season points per game record.