NHL.com goes Behind the Numbers to identify key statistics for the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. Today, a look at the three factors in the No. 6 seed Carolina Hurricanes’ sweep of the No. 11 New York Rangers in their best-of-5 series.
5-on-5 save percentage
The Hurricanes had a 5-on-5 save percentage of 97.1 percent in the Qualifiers, up from 91.2 percent during the regular season. The sample size is much smaller, but goalie Petr Mrazek improved from a .905 save percentage during the regular season to .940 in his starts in Games 1 and 2 against the Rangers. Mrazek also improved his regular season even-strength save percentage from .912 to .973 against the Rangers. It’s a considerable adjustment from his .894 save percentage (in 11 games) in the 2018-19 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The improvement was notable considering Carolina was without No. 1 defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who was deemed unfit to play in the series. Goalie James Reimer, who started and won Game 3, had a .974 save percentage (.970 at even strength). The Hurricanes could continue to take advantage of a strong goaltending duo in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and each could continue to provide better than average numbers if Hamilton returns.
The Hurricanes gave the Rangers 14 power plays in the series but limited them to one goal, which came on a 5-on-3. Carolina relied heavily on defensemen Jaccob Slavin (5:03 shorthanded ice time per game) and Joel Edmundson (4:58), who were first and second on the Hurricanes in that category. Defenseman Brady Skjei also made an impact by averaging 2:59 per game, up from 2:45 in his seven regular-season games with Carolina.
The Hurricanes’ success is notable when considering the Rangers power play was seventh in the NHL during the regular season (22.9 percent) but fell to 7.1 percent against Carolina. The Hurricanes penalty kill, fourth in the League (84.0 percent) during the regular season, could receive a boost if Hamilton, who averaged 2:20 shorthanded per game, returns.
Center Sebastian Aho leads the NHL with five points (one goal, four assists) during 5-on-5 play in three games and forward Andrei Svechnikov is tied for third (three points; two goals one assist) with nine other players. Svechnikov leads the League in on-ice even-strength goal differential (five) and Aho and Teuvo Teravainen (four each) are tied for second with five other players. Their underlying numbers showcase they are one of the best lines in hockey during the Qualifiers, which gave them a sizable advantage against the Rangers.
The Hurricanes also had a plus-23 SAT differential against New York, which is 22nd in the League with a minus-22 SAT in the Qualifiers. This number highlights Carolina’s ability to control puck possession at 5-on-5, making them one of the harder teams to play against. Rookie center Martin Necas also played a significant role against the Rangers with two even-strength points (one goal, one assist) in three games.
With their even-strength offense clicking, the Hurricanes could be among the most well-rounded teams in the League during the playoffs if Hamilton, who had 12 power-play points this season (two goals, 10 assists), returns and helps boost their postseason power play (14.3 percent) closer to their regular-season average of 22.3 percent, which ranked eighth in the NHL.