Antti Raanta, Hurricanes Goaltending, Pyotr Kochetkov

Hurricanes Goaltending Plaguing Team Despite Strong Blue Line

The Metropolitan Division is doing the exact opposite of what everyone predicted. Who would’ve expected the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers to crack the top four spots? However, the gap is not wide and four points separate second place from seventh place. 

The Hockey Writers Substack banner Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes currently sit in second place in the Division. However, they should have a much better record and inconsistent efforts have become their downfall. Overall, this is a good hockey team but has been plagued by poor efforts in net. The system that head coach Rod Brind’Amour has in place proves to be efficient and the team should have better results. 

Hurricanes Smothering Defense Reigns Supreme

You can live by the system or you can die by the system. It can give or it can take away. The Hurricanes have always been a stingy team to play against. They have a defensive core that excels in transition but also in their own end of the ice. Each player buys into what Brind’Amour wants to achieve and it’s become bread-and-butter to the team’s success. Furthermore, the forward group is the same way and makes the Hurricanes’ five-man unit tough to break through. 

Related: Hurricanes Goaltending is at a Crease Roads This Season

The Hurricanes are one of the best teams at five-on-five when it comes to shot suppression. As a team, they’ve allowed the third-fewest shot attempts (834) and do a good job of getting into shooting lanes. The team has fired the most unblocked shot attempts (894) and have allowed the third-fewest. 

Jaccob Slavin Carolina Hurricanes
Jaccob Slavin, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As a result of their efforts, the Hurricanes have allowed the third-fewest shots on goal and does not give an opposing offense any form of life. Opposing teams have a hard time generating quality scoring chances, as the Hurricanes has given up the eighth-fewest scoring chance shots on net. The Hurricanes also have the second-fewest expected goals against (37.87), meaning they are doing a great job of suppressing the opposition. 

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One area the Hurricanes do not give a team any life in is the high-danger area. The unit locks things down and has surrendered the second-fewest attempts from the area as well as shots. Their efforts have been rewarded, as they’ve given up the sixth-fewest goals from the area. 

When it comes to team defense, this team is more than capable of locking games down. However, there is one problem that has held the team back. 

Goaltending Continues to Plague Hurricanes

The way the Hurricanes play defensively is more than good enough to win hockey games. However, no matter how strong of an effort they display the goaltending has held them back. For example, on Thursday Night (Nov. 30) against the New York Islanders, the Hurricanes smothered them but lost in overtime. This game was not particularly close, especially at five-on-five. Here’s a display of the teams’ dominance: 

  • Corsi For: 75-29 
  • Fenwick: 50-20
  • Shots: 33-10

  • Scoring chances: 36-13
  • Expected goals: 2.7-1.07

When outplaying your opponent this heavily, there is no reason to not win the game, and all signs are pointing to goaltending for the overtime loss. Pyotr Kochetkov got the start in net and things did not go well — he finished with a .688 save percentage (SV%) and a -2.66 goals saved above expected. Simply put, that is not good enough on a night where the Hurricanes scored four goals. 

This is not the only poor performance as of late. Antti Raanta had his last start against the Tampa Bay Lightning and went on to set records and not the good kind. Raanta finished that game with a .429 SV% and allowed eight goals on 14 shots against. 

Things do not look good in the Hurricanes’ crease. As it stands, they have the worst team SV% in the league (.867) and have a combined goals saved above expected of -13.2. That is not ideal and it’s going to be hard to contend with that level of play in the net. It is time to make a move in what is an important season for the Hurricanes. 

The Time to Make a Move is Now

A team with Stanley Cup aspirations needs to be sharp in the net and the excellent team defense is being done a disservice by inefficiencies in the net. If the Hurricanes don’t shore it up, it could derail the season and doom all hopes of hosting the Stanley Cup. 

There are options out there to acquire better goaltending but whether the team will make a move remains to be seen. The Hurricanes are strong hockey team but the goaltending has to improve if they are going to have any sustained success during the 2023-24 season. 

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