The sands of the hourglass got young and a little more restless Friday morning with the news that Carolina had recalled forward Elias Lindholm from their AHL affiliate in Charlotte and re-assigned Chris Terry. It was only very recently that this exact transaction went down in reverse. What was once used to fill some holes on the lineup is now being used to boost some of the more nauseating aspects of the Hurricanes’ game.
It is no secret below the Mason-Dixon that Carolina has an embarrassing power play. In fact, using the word power to describe the man advantage is to play it fast and loose with the definitions of both “power” and “advantage.” Carolina has the worst power play in the Metropolitan Division and is only above the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference.
In 123:50 minutes on the 5-on-4 man advantage, Carolina has an embarrassing eight goals in 75 opportunities. Even scarier is that the Hurricanes lead the entire NHL in power play opportunities in the second period and are still this terrible. 11.9 percent overall on the man advantage tells opponents one thing: They can pretty much do whatever they want with little to no consequence. Hook, slash, interfere, start fights, obstruct the goalie and not worry in the slightest about giving up goals.
The Hurricanes’ defensive end has become anarchy.
Where does Lindholm fit into all of this? There are two crucial things to take a look at. First of all, he’s been relatively untested in the NHL on the power play. Whatever happened last season with Brynäs IF of the Swedish league is last season and is in Sweden — doesn’t matter. During his stint in the AHL, Lindholm has notched a single power play goal (PPG) in six games. Not horrible but nothing to really write home to Sweden about. Lindholm cannot make the power play any worse, and throwing an untested young forward out there can’t hurt the already awful numbers.
The other thing to remember here is that there’s no rule saying Lindholm has to skate on the power play unit. Sure, ice him and see what happens, or don’t. Either way. It’s not like Terry was giving a whole bunch of ticks in the PPG column himself. Zero isn’t very many goals. Head coach Kirk Muller now has the freedom to try some new stuff out. The arrival of Manny Malhotra has given Carolina the best faceoff percentage in the league for the first half of November. Who’s to say Lindholm can’t boost the power play numbers?
In the end, this swap-back could be something or it could be nothing. Lindholm is a very good young hockey player and was gangbusters in his first stint with Carolina this season. GM Jim Rutherford could very well have come out of his coma and realized a shot of youthful energy could boost the team. Or he might be gearing up for some kind of monster trade. Who knows with Rutherford?
The only constant here is that the Hurricanes’ power play must begin putting out some kind of offense or the season will die fast and quiet before anyone knows what hit them.