Another game, another 60 minutes wherein the Carolina Hurricanes can’t score enough goals to win. Visiting the Chicago Blackhawks Friday night, the ‘Canes could only manage one goal and lost 2-1. It’s a tale that has been told all too often for the team that has not sniffed the playoffs in 10 years.
Sure, there are deviations to the norm, such as the four-goal game which got the ‘Canes the 4-2 win against the St. Louis Blues Thursday night. But, in reality, this team needs to find consistent offense if they ever want to make the playoffs.
In 17 games since December began, the Hurricanes have ended six of them with only one goal scored. By contrast, the Columbus Blue Jackets won 16 games in a row and in none of those games did they only score one goal.
One Guy or Another
One challenge the Hurricanes have is getting more than one guy going at a time for any length of time. Jeff Skinner has been hitting on all cylinders at times, but even the team’s points leader has up and down streaks. Against the Blues, he launched a great power-play goal, which turned out to be the game-winner:
— NHL (@NHL) January 6, 2017
Against the Blackhawks a night later, he got on the score sheet with an assist. It was Victor Rask, second on the team in points, who notched the lone Hurricane goal. Where is everyone else on this team when talking offensive production?
The Difference When Winning
There is a trend here that can be illustrated by comparison with the NHL’s most recent hottest team. A look at the stats pages for each team shows only two Hurricanes with double-digit goals thus far this season. Four of the Blue Jackets’ top five points leaders have double-digit goals. Fresh off of a 16-game winning streak, the Blue Jackets have shown that scoring increases chances of winning. Of course that is just common sense.
Carolina has to find offense on a more consistent basis night in and night out. A look at the goals for and goals against differential tells the tale between winning and losing, also. Columbus has a differential of plus-47, while the Hurricanes’ differential is minus-5. The Pittsburgh Penguins are second in the Metropolitan Division currently and have a differential of plus-26. The New York Rangers are third and have a differential of plus-38.
Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters likes to talk about getting the greasy goals, the ones that happen to go in because a player has positioned himself to be at the right place at the right time. This quote by Peters in 2014 seems appropriate here in 2017:
Obviously we gotta find a way to score, we gotta have a little more finish. Maybe a greasy one, maybe a deflection, something off your a** maybe, I don’t know.
Greasy goals come from a willingness to charge the net, to get in the fray and mix it up in from of the goalie and defenders. An extended winning streak would go a long way to helping Carolina get in the playoff mix. But, scoring only one goal a game is not an ingredient for an extended winning streak. It’s time for Peters’ young team to get greasy and put some consistent points on the board.
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.