Carolina is winless in their last 13 games (0-10-3) and have only seven points in 17 games (2-12-3) on the season, good for last place in the entire NHL. They look nothing like the team that eliminated the third seed New Jersey Devils and one seed Boston Bruins in last year's playoffs.
A big part of the poor start is the woeful power play. The Hurricanes own the second worst power play in the NHL, clicking a meagre 12.2 per cent of the time. Only the pathetic Predator power play is poorer (11.9 per cent). That will have to change if there is going to be a turn around in Carolina.
Complicating matters, injuries have reared their ugly head. Just when the team welcomes Erik Cole back into the fold, Eric Staal goes down with an injury. Then there is the serious cut to Cam Ward's leg, forcing the superstar netminder out of the line up until early December.
Five of the 12 worst plus/minus numbers belong to Hurricanes players. Last year, Rod Brind'Amour finished with the second worst plus/minus in the league with a minus-23. This season, he has picked up where he left off and has a league worst minus-13. Aaron Ward (minus-12), Joni Pitkanen (minus-10) and Joe Corvo and Sergei Samsonov (both minus-9) are all big minus players so far this season. Matt Cullen is close as well with a minus-8 rating.
Carolina is having trouble scoring goals and sit dead last in goals per game at 1.94. It's no surprise that Washington leads the league in goal scoring, averaging 3.78 per game.
Last year's leading scorer for Carolina, Ray Whitney is not having a banner season. He has nine points in 15 games and is on pace for 48 points, his lowest total since 2003-04. As long as Whitney can stay healthy, he will be fine.
Eric Staal has had an abysmal season to date and is on pace for only 30 points, but there is no way that he is going to finish anywhere near his rookie season's point total (31). Staal has averaged 81.75 points over the last four years. Have faith, he will turn it around.
Here are some random statistics relating to Eastern Conference players:
Antero Niittymaki and Mike Smith have both played exactly 462 minutes this season. Smith's record is 2-3-3 with a 3.64 goals-against-average and 0.880 save percentage. Niittymaki sports a 4-1-2 record and a sparkling 1.95 goals-against-average and league leading 0.940 save percentage. Niittymaki is certainly making the most of his opportunities and is not only outplaying his crease partner, but most of the NHL!
Ryan Miller is in the midst of a career year and sits second in save percentage (0.938) and first in goals-against-average (1.82). Only three times this season has he let in more than two goals in a game, two coming at the hands of the New York Islanders.
Tomas Kaberle not only leads all defensemen in scoring with 20 points, he also is tied for the league lead in power play points with a coupl