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31 in 31

Carolina Hurricanes key statistics

Darling, strong penalty kill should lead to improvement this season

by Rob Vollman / NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three key statistics for the Carolina Hurricanes.

 

[HURRICANES 31 in 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Top prospects]

 

1. Goaltending change

After ranking 27th or lower in team save percentage for a third consecutive season, the Carolina Hurricanes decided to change their No. 1 goalie. On April 28, they acquired Scott Darling in a trae with the Chicago Blackhawks, and on June 29, they traded Eddie Lack to the Calgary Flames.

Based on three statistics, Darling could be one of the NHL's top six goalies. Over three NHL seasons, Darling's save percentage of .923 ranks sixth among goalies who have played at least 50 games over that time span.

Quality starts are a way to measure how often a goalie plays well enough for his team to win. They are awarded in any game when the starting goalie has a League-average save percentage or higher. Darling's quality start percent of 62.5 ranks fourth among those to play at least 50 games over the past three seasons, according to the data compiled at Hockey Reference.

In terms of shots taken exclusively in the home plate area directly in front of the net, Darling's .865 save percentage ranks fifth in the NHL among the same group of goalies, according to shot location in NHL play-by-play files.

Video: 31 in 31: Carolina Hurricanes 2017-18 season preview

 

2. Shorthanded success

The Hurricanes are among the most effective teams in the NHL at killing penalties, whether using traditional statistics or more modern shot-based metrics.

In traditional terms, Carolina has a penalty-kill percentage of 84.4 over the past three seasons, which ranks second to the St. Louis Blues (84.5).

In terms of shot-based statistics, the Hurricanes have allowed the fewest shot attempts per 60 minutes in each of the past three seasons, and are trending lower every season. According to the data compiled at Natural Stat Trick, Carolina allowed 85.93 shot attempts per 60 minutes in 2014-15, 78.87 in 2015-16, and 77.74 in 2016-17.

 

3. The blue line

In last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Nashville Predators demonstrated the value of having young, effective and salary cap-efficient defensemen. Based on the Hurricanes' numbers, they could be the next team to follow suit.

The average age of Carolina's top seven defensemen -- Justin Faulk, Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Noah Hanifin, Klas Dahlbeck, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Haydn Fleury -- is 23.6 years old. And, according to the data compiled at NHL Numbers, the Hurricanes have $10.133 million in salary cap space assigned to their defensemen, which is the lowest in the League.

The defensemen are already showing signs of future effectiveness. Last season, the Hurricanes outshot opponents 1,411-1,198 with Pesce on the ice at 5-on-5, an SAT of plus-213 that ranked 12th among NHL defensemen. Slavin ranked 20th at plus-161, and Faulk ranked 35th at plus-111, making Carolina one of five teams with at least three defensemen with an SAT of plus-100 or better.

Video: CAR@NYI: Slavin finds twine with long slap shot

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