Originally posted on Shutdown Line  |  Last updated 3/10/14
When people ask me why the Hurricanes have struggled so much this year, I usually point to one of two things. The first is special teams, which kind of speaks for itself at this point, and the other is depth. Jim Rutherford spent a lot of money on the team's core and it's left the team paper thin in terms of forward depth. Their third and fourth lines are composed of players either on entry level contracts or guys who are making around the league minimum. Every GM has to find bargains, but the Hurricanes were scraping the bottom to fill out their depth. To make things worse, the team's top-six forwards have gone through injuries and scoring droughts all year, which has really exposed how bad this team's depth is and Kirk Muller's line juggling has also added to this. When Patrick Dwyer & Nathan Gerbe are second liners in your system, then that kind of shows how deep your team is. The popular argument against the Hurricanes is that their core has underperformed and they have in terms of goal scoring. However, if you look at how each player is performing in terms of puck-possession and controlling territorial play, they haven't been the biggest concern on the Hurricanes this year. Timothy Bonnar of Arctic Ice Hockey made a similar argument about the Jets a few months ago and the same thing can be applied to the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes look olike a pretty solid team when Eric Staal & Alex Semin are on the ice and it doesn't matter which defense pairing is behind him. The same can also be said for Jordan Staal's line, although they tend to struggle when they're used with the third defense pair. After that, you have players like Gerbe, Tlusty & Nash who have had mostly positive results while others like Ruutu, Bowman & Lindholm have been more mixed. Put them in front of the team's top-four and they are fine but after that they'll have problems. The same can be said for Drayson Bowman, who  has been crushed when paired with anyone outside of the Canes top-four and the team's two regular fourth liners (Malhotra & Dvorak) have been underwater no matter who they are used with. Remember, those two were on the Canes "third line" for part of the year due to injuries and depth problems. So going by this, the team's forward depth looks a little better than normal but their fourth line has been a wreck and most of the players outside of the Staals, Semin & Skinner have berought mixed results. Although, none of this is really surprising and the rest of the league is probably similar. This is something Tyler Dellow, the developer of the chart, states in his response to Bonnar's article. You would expect most team's to look pretty good with their top-six and best defensemen out there while struggling to stay afloat territorially with their fourth line & third defense pairing on the ice. So, is the Hurricanes depth really that bad compared to the rest of the league or are they a pretty standard case? To find the answer to this question, I was going to make a chart for every team in the league but that would be taxing and hard to make a comparison from. Instead, I went through every game, determined which lines were each team's top & bottom-six  were going by ice time and looked at how each team's 5v5 goal & Corsi differential while a certain line was on the ice. It's something I've been working on since about December and while it's not perfect, I think it does a good job of showing where each team is at depth wise. First, let's look at how each team's top-six ranks. From a possession standpoint, the Hurricanes top-six doesn't look bad at all. Their top forwards aren't nearly as good as Chicago, Los Angeles or Boston, but the team is owning about 53% of the 5v5 shot attempts when they are on the ice, which is very good compared to the rest of the league. The problem, as we all know, is finishing and they haven't been able to turn their good possession numbers into much of anything on the scoresheet. Most of that stems from Jordan's line being unable to score at evens, which is a mystery that I still haven't found the answer to. Possession is important and you can't score without having the puck & winning the territorial battle, but converting it into chances & goals is still an issue for the Hurricanes top-six.  The scoring woes of the top-six have magnified their forward depth problems, which are still apparent but not as bad as I thought they were.  The Canes bottom-six is still bad in terms of shot differential and the fact that they are getting outscored with them on the ice makes them look even worse. However, compare this to the rest of the league and they are about average. There's a lot of room to improve with a 48.3% Corsi Percentage but you can see above that other team's third and fourth lines have been much worse. The same goes for their 45.1% Goal Percentage, which is about the same as Ottawa, San Jose and the Rangers. It's also above the likes of Edmonton, Nashville, Montreal and even Pittsburgh, who have some hilariously bad numbers from their bottom-six. Although, one thing to note is that while the Hurricanes bottom-six is basically average, they still get a pretty big territorial boost when their top-six is on the ice. The ridiculous goal differentials from a few teams skews the graph a little, but the jolt that the Hurricanes get from their top-two lines is still pretty easy to point out. They're about 5% better territorially with them on the ice and while they aren't the Penguins, they still don't have a lot of balance in their lineup and that has put a lot of stress on their top-six to do most of the scoring. When they go through a rut, the rest of the team usually goes along with them and it's frustrating because the Hurricanes top-six has done a lot of good things even when they aren't putting the puck in the net. Possession is one thing, finishing is a completely different ballgame and while a lot of it can be attributed to bad puck luck, this has been the story in Carolina for over a calendar year now and the team's shooting percentage almost comical at this point.  Some of the team's forwards have seen their personal shooting percentage start to regress toward their career averages, but the Hurricanes overall shooting percentage has remained low and I don't think "shot quality" is the reason for it. If that were the case, I doubt Radek Dvorak would have the highest 5v5 on-ice shooting percentage on the team and that Manny Malhotra would have a higher shooting percentage than Jordan Staal. Especially since the latter attacks the offensive zone in a much more aggressive manner and both of them shoot from roughly the same distances. I'd love to do more research on this because the Hurricanes inability to finish their chances has been a huge problem for awhile now. Their bottom-six is painfully mediocre but it might be enough for them to get by if the top-six wasn't collectively shooting at career lows. Stats courtesy of Hockey Analysis & Extra Skater
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Yankees close to trading Aroldis Chapman

WATCH: Dontrelle Willis' great reaction to Giancarlo Stanton home run

Reports: Sale cut up throwback uniforms with knife in protest

WNBA withdraws fines for teams that protested gun violence

Ezekiel Elliott: ‘Evil NEVER prevails’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Orioles, Padres reportedly talking trades of Melvin Upton, Cashner

Le’Veon Bell reportedly missed ‘several’ drug tests

Report: Islanders looking at locations to build new arena

Top five takeaways from this year's NBA Summer League

NCAA rules that hanging out with Drake is violation

WATCH: Justin Bieber arm wrestle Sixers center Joel Embiid

Report: Royals didn't invite Johnny Cueto to White House visit

Solo not taking any chances with Zika virus while in Rio

Rays reportedly demanding Profar in pitching deal with Rangers

Facebook doesn’t know the difference between Liverpool and Arsenal

Report: Teams asked about Wade Davis, asking price very high

Aussie Rules Football player accidentally kicks, breaks own leg

Former Arkansas football assistant trolls Bobby Petrino on social media

Could Clayton Kershaw's injury hinder trade talks?

Spurs strike a new deal with NBA stalwart Manu Ginobli

George makes return to Team USA following leg injury

Why the Clippers shouldn't break up their big three

White Sox pay homage to Bo Jackson’s bat-breaking skills with bobblehead

Hurricanes News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Expansion draft playing heavy hand in the current NHL offseason

WATCH: Pop & Timmy have a guys' night out

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker