Training camp is in full swing, and preseason games have already begun. It is the best time of the year as hockey is again in full swing. The Carolina Hurricanes have new faces in the fold and, with their new personnel, will have a new look power play (PP). After examining the first potential unit laid out in training camp, here is the potential the second unit could have.
Improving the Power Play Unit
It will be a breath of fresh air when the Hurricanes can score a power play goal. During the 2022-23 season, the PP was near the bottom of the league. Considering the plethora of talent the Hurricanes have, improving on the PP is a must.
The Hurricanes are one of the best teams at 5v5 play, but when the game comes to having the man advantage, all offensive chances are not being cashed in. During training camp, a new look PP has been in the works. We’ve already discussed the first unit, so let’s look at the second unit and how good it can be.
The second group of forwards is a unique combination with a lot of grit on it. Up front is the speedy and skilled Martin Necas, who is paired with Michael Bunting and Stefan Noesen. The top unit is loaded, but the second unit has the potential to score a lot of goals.
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Noesen is a big-bodied forward with a nose for the front of the net. Also, he was the team’s best player on the PP during the 2022-23 season. He generated the highest expected goals (7.7) and met that expected rate with seven goals (most on the team.) His 14 points were good for third among forwards on the power play. One area that he impacted in a big way was his play in the high-danger area of the ice. He generated 4.23 expected goals in the high-danger area of the ice. His big frame and ability to play effectively there will bode well for the players who fire the puck from the blue line.
Bunting is the perfect addition to the Hurricanes and their power play. For a large amount of the season, getting traffic in front of the goalies was non-existent. Like Noesen, he is a player who thrives in the high-danger areas of the ice and is unafraid to go to the corners to dig out pucks. He only had nine points on the PP, but was a strong presence for the Toronto Maple Leafs overall.
Bunting had the fourth most expected goals (28) and is coming off back-to-back 20+ goal seasons. This player will go to the high-danger areas and find ways to generate screens and look for deflections. He finished second on the Maple Leafs with 13.3 expected goals from the high-danger area. His style of play fits the system that Rod Brind’Amour runs and will help improve a PP that struggled last season.
These two hard-nosed wingers will allow Necas to use his speed and skill to glide through the offensive zone. While the defensemen are clearing the bodies out in front of the net, he can get set up for a scoring opportunity. It is not the star-studded lineup like the first unit, but it is a unit that can produce goals and cash in on opportunities.
Unlike the first unit, the second unit features four forwards and one defenseman. Being at the top of the blue line is newcomer Dmitry Orlov and Teuvo Terravainen.
Orlov is one of the best two-way defensemen in the league and thrives on generating offense. He has a cannon of a shot from the blue line and is an efficient playmaker. With Brent Burns and Tony DeAngelo manning the first unit, Orlov will be tasked with quarterbacking the second unit. He was primarily not used on the PP in Washington but saw an increased opportunity with the Boston Bruins.
It will be a bounce-back season for Terravainen, who struggled mightily throughout the year. He could not stay healthy and never found any rhythm. However, when healthy, he is a tremendous offensive presence and has a wicked shot and can light the lamp. With all the bodies that will crowd the net, this unit can potentially be an excellent weapon for the Hurricanes during the 2023-24 season.
Taking Pressure Off the Top Unit
It is no secret that the Hurricanes’ PP was a concern and needed to improve. With the proper additions to the lineup and personnel, it will be a lethal unit during the 2023-24 season.
The first unit is loaded, but the second has potential to be a great unit. It will be a much harder working unit and has a lot of balance on that unit. Carolina has all the talent in the world to make you pay when taking a penalty but needs to execute and capitalize on their chances when they get them. Having two stellar units can help solve that problem.
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