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Thursday, September 25, 2008


on 25 September 2008

After the Washington Capitals dismantled the HURRICANES’ plans for post-season play last season, the question was asked. How does a team that ranked 2nd in the NHL in shots per game, 4th in power play goals and 5th in goals per game miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season after having hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup? Defense. Or so has been the response of the CANES by adding Joni Pitkanen as the team’s off-season move. Considering the impact of injuries to major contributors (even in their Cup-winning year), one would have to imagine a healthy CANE core of top notch players and a re-tooled defense might help escort the team back to post-season play.

CAROLINA actually recognized their need for defensive attention before the conclusion of last season by bringing aboard Joe Corvo who apparently packed up his ‘instant impact kit’ on his move to the south. The Corvo and Pitkanen strategy of defense looks like a very mobile blue line. Ultimately, the HURRICANES went in search of a stronger defense and found themselves adding offense. Now we are talking.

But with a penalty kill percentage of 78.87% (26th) perhaps we are not done watching the experiment behind the blue line. And I haven’t even mentioned Eric Staal yet or the second coming of the Samsanov.

In the 2007/8 NHL Season:
  • The HURRICANES again struggled with the injury bug. The eye of their storm, Captain Rod Brind’amour played only 59 games while still contributing 51 points.
  • CAROLINA scored more goals at home last season than any other team in the NHL (140).
  • They missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season after having won the Cup.
It should be a fun year for HURRICANE fans provided the team stays healthy and finds the balance they seek between the two ends of the rink. If they can up their average play against the OGA Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) perhaps we will see another playoff appearance next spring. CAROLINA’s three-year average against the PQC is at a +1.67. This means fans are hoping for the 4th season in a row (yikes) star Staal burns brightly, playing through all 82 games to help the team make post-season play. Let’s see what the On Goal Analysis PQC reveals about the CAROLINA HURRICANES’ play for the first 10 games of the new season.

Last season saw the CAROLINA HURRICANES jump over the boards with the best start in their first ten games compared any other year since the Lockout. But by mid December every season they display a lagging slump, playing up to one entire point below the Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC). This type of trend must be addressed or they will again spend the rest of the season gaining lost ground and pushing for a playoff appearance rather than anticipating and preparing for their eventual opponent.

The HURRICANES’ first 10 games of the season are played 10 OCTOBER – 01 NOVEMBER. Our exhaustive research indicates, in this time frame, CAROLINA earns a PQC rating of 6.7 and about 12 points in the NHL standings. Imagine the outcome of a CAROLINA team that stays strong on performance and adds just a few more ‘Ws’ to the column before the holiday breaks. They trend towards a decent start to each season and I am sure this healthier club is anxious to hit the ice again this year.

Some statistics of note to manage your expectations into late OCTOBER are:
  • The HURRICANES will still be adjusting to a style of play with more defensive attention. It could mean another slow start to the first couple of games but they will make up for it down the stretch of the first ten.
  • The HURRICANES have lost their last 3 season openers, twice in the shootout.
  • The CAROLINA HURRICANES have won 10 of 12 games (83%) in the 22-29 OCTOBER time frame.
  • By the end of the first ten games, CAROLINA will be almost 1.5 points above the PQC.
OGA will be measuring the HURRICANES against their average PQC Rating of 6.7, as well as all other NHL teams, in order to provide you more in-depth analysis with CAROLINA’s Game 10 Report, due to season subscribers by 2PM Central on 2 NOVEMBER and available to purchase from On Goal Analysis.com by 2PM Central on 3 NOVEMBER. (See a sample G10R here…)

Will this team finally stay healthy enough to execute a strategy? Will Cam Ward continue to settle into the keeper for the CANES’ future? Will CAROLINA finally break loose from their mid December slump and give them some distance above the PQC? You can be the first to know. Stay tuned to The OGA Blog and check out the CAROLINA HURRICANES G10R for a thorough review of the HURRICANES’ performance as measured against the PQC.

Tomorrow brings the DALLAS STARS SPR and another dose of the Frozen Pill.


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