RALEIGH, N.C. – Heading into their first season matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs at PNC Arena on Friday, the Carolina Hurricanes find themselves in a similar spot in the standings as last season.
Entering the weekend, after 18 games, Carolina sits with a 6-10-2 record with 14 points.
Last season, at the same water mark, the Hurricanes were 6-9-3 with 15 points, and 7-7-4 with 18 points in 2013-2014.
Well, what does that mean?
Regardless of whether it’s former head coaches Paul Maurice or Kirk Muller coaching, or current head coach Bill Peters drawing it up on the whiteboard, the team’s success has faltered because it doesn’t score, and hasn’t for a while.
The Hurricanes are currently averaging 1.94 goals per game – two per game, for all intents and purposes.
Last season, they ended the year scoring 2.23 goals per game – two per games, for all intents and purposes.
The percentages have crept down each season since 2011-2012, where it was 2.89 goals per game, – three per game.
It’s slid down incrementally from there.
It’s no secret that has to change, and Peters continues to point it out daily.
“We need to score,” Peters said following practice on Thursday.
“We need to score 5-on-5, we need to score on the power play, more.”
Against a Maple Leafs team headed by his former boss in Detroit, Mike Babcock, Carolina’s eerily similar system, along with the two coaches’ similar styles, will be comparable on the same ice surface.
When Babcock took over with the Leafs, he said the process and results would be painful – a blatantly honest expectation.
That word has never been uttered in Carolina nor has the R word – rebuild.
How the Hurricanes fair against a Leafs team that has currently won four of its last five games, including its most recent 5-1 win against Colorado that was highlighted with four power play goals and a short-hander marker, will be telling.
It’s an important game to truly see where this team is at – an apples-to-apples comparison so to speak.
Are the Hurricanes capable of scoring more?
Sure, that’s what Peters continues to hope for and expects to see.
But will or can they?
If history continues to repeat itself – no.
If Carolina can’t score above and beyond what they have done so far, and beat the Leafs, then many following this team must realistically admit that the P and R words are now part of the regular conversation.
It’s the only way to move forward.
To do otherwise, would continue to mask the obvious, and repeat what has continued for the past five seasons.