The Carolina Hurricanes, a team projected by some as a potential dark-horse in the Eastern Conference playoff chase, have won just one of their first six games and currently reside in the Metro Division basement. They’ll finally get a taste of home cooking Friday after starting the campaign on a six-game road trip as the Hurricanes will host the New York Rangers. Despite a respectable offense that is averaging three goals a game and a defense limiting opponents to the fourth-fewest shot attempts, Carolina has been undone by poor goaltending and as Ben Pope writes for Today’s Slapshot, it might be time for the Hurricanes to panic.
Cam Ward and Eddie Lack have combined for an 85.3% save percentage, the worst in the NHL, and have allowed four goals a game. Beyond the common numbers, the Hurricanes goalie duo is also performing at a below average level preventing goals against on low-, medium-, and high-danger shots, as Pope notes.
After just six games it’s fair to wonder about sample-size but Pope goes on to write that Ward, while sometimes making the spectacular save, has been a subpar netminder for much of his career. Lack, on the other hand, is nearly league-average in stopping shots from the outside but struggles mightily against attempts from in close.
Citing statistics available on Corsica.hockey, Pope opines the team’s defense hasn’t done the goalies any favors. Even though they have been excellent overall in suppressing shots, the ones they do allow have been of the medium-to-high-danger variety. The data shows 81.2% of the shots Carolina gives up are either of the medium of high-danger variety with the league average coming in at 63.4%.
Ultimately, the Hurricanes need better play between the pipes if they want to remain a relevant playoff contender. If that improvement doesn’t come internally, Carolina may have to scour the trade market to find a solution.
More from around the Metro Division:
- With Pavel Buchnvich expected to return to the lineup Friday the New York Rangers were facing a difficult decision regarding whom to remove from their 23-man roster to open a spot for the rookie forward. But the injury to Josh Jooris Wednesday night allowed the Rangers to delay that decision a little longer, writes Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post. However, instead of taking advantage of that opportunity, the Blueshirts this morning have placed Dylan McIlrath on waivers. If he goes unclaimed, the club will likely send their 2010 first-round draft pick to Hartford of the AHL. McIlrath has suited up for just one game this season and has been a healthy scratch six times.
- Former New York Islander netminder Kevin Poulin has signed a deal with Barys of the KHL, tweets Igor Eronko of Sports Express. Poulin showed promise early in his career after debuting in the league with a 92.4% save percentage and a goals-against-average of 2.44 in 10 appearances as a 20-year-old back in 2010-11. It’s been downhill ever since with his save percentage declining in each subsequent campaign. Poulin last saw action in the league in 2014-15, starting once and allowing three goals on 26 shots. He appeared in 29 contests for Stockton in the AHL, winning 14 and stopping 90.9% of the attempts against.