Special teams are crucial in any hockey game but can determine an NHL team’s fate for the season. The Carolina Hurricanes have a plethora of talent that plays on the man advantage and the penalty kill. Because of this, the frustration grows when neither one is holding back the rest of the squad.
The power play seems to have its struggles more often than not season to season under Rod Brind’Amour. Hindsight is 20/20 but last year’s team could have had a better advantage in the playoffs if the power play units performed better. Goals were hard enough to come by against the Florida Panthers, but a boost from the man advantage could have changed the series.
Always a strong threat, players like Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Martin Necas, and Andrei Svechnikov can light the lamp at any moment. The player that has stuck out this season for the Canes is Seth Jarvis. The 21-year-old winger has 5 power-play goals which is tied for 9th best in the league.
The penalty kill has struggled overall in the first 20 games with a below-average 74.6 percent effectiveness. In fact, this is the 25th-best in the NHL currently. Although these are undesirable, the Canes have the third most short-handed goals in the NHL with 5. Dallas and St. Louis both have 6 shorties on the season.
Believe it or not, the leader in short-handed goals is none other than defenseman, Jaccob Slavin. Slavin is on the ice for his stellar defensive ability and certainly does that but this year he has 3 goals and 2 of those are on the kill.
One of the keys to the Canes’ success last year in the regular season and postseason was the penalty kill. Both had an above 84% kill rate and that was a huge reason the team was able to make up for the limited power-play production.
No matter what skill is on the ice and the flashy new players acquired by Don Waddell, this team is a structured, gritty group that wins hockey games in the “little” areas. It is great to have skill rolling out on every shift but in the playoffs that is not as effective.
The defense and goaltending need to get back to being the main focus of this group and let the offensive chances be created from the turnovers onto the rush.
If these numbers do not improve, the team may be in a battle for playoff contention due to the strong division this season.