It’s been no secret that the Carolina Hurricanes have been less than exemplary on the power play of late. Actually it would be more accurate to say they’ve been awful. Perhaps colossally awful? Spectacularly awful? So bad there’s absolutely no way they aren’t doing it on purpose?
The list of descriptors is endless.
However, in the last couple of games Carolina has shown a small glimmer of hope. Not the movie-script turnaround that is needed, but they’re getting better. Their power play was so bad it really had nowhere to go but up — however improvement is improvement.
First and foremost, the Hurricanes get to cheer about not being the worst anymore. While previously bringing up the rear in the Eastern Conference, their recent success has pushed them ahead of the Winnipeg Jets. While languishing at the bottom of the heap with a sub-12 power play percentage for most of the month, Carolina has gone up to a 13.3 percent. With the league average at just shy of 18.2 percent, a 13.3 is not exactly fireworks and marching bands. However, it’s not the 11.9 they were rocking prior to Sunday’s win over the Ottawa Senators. This is good because 13 is more than 11.
Last week, the Hurricanes were .500 on the power play. This is head and shoulders above previous stretches where they would go up to three games without converting a single man advantage. The major issue here though is the number of power play opportunities they’ve been given.
Carolina ranks number seven in the NHL in overall power play opportunities with 90. When they’ve only converted 12 of those that is a ton of missed scoring chances. In the last four games, the Hurricanes are 2-for10 on the man advantage. That is completely inexcusable. Not because of the low number of conversions, but it shows the rest of the league smells blood in the water when it comes to the Hurricanes’ power play.
This willingness to take penalties is best evidenced by Carolina’s rank of fifth in the league on 5-on-3 opportunities with six. Teams usually avoid going two men down for obvious reasons. However, when opponents just say “whatever, what are they gonna do, score?” this shows a lot of flags and those flags are red.
There’s still a long road ahead for the Hurricanes on special teams. 13.3 percent is nice, but it won’t pay the bills. The sooner head coach Kirk Muller can find some way to get the team to convert more man advantages, the better. Way more than better. It’s common knowledge that no team can make a successful run at any cup — Stanley or otherwise — without a solid power play unit.
With recent triumphs and improvements, Carolina can build on this — hopefully pushing them higher in the conference in such a vital statistic.