In the 2015-2016 season, the line comprised of Jordan Staal, Joakim Nordstrom, and Andrej Nestrasil comprised what was perhaps the best line for the Carolina Hurricanes until Nestrasil went down with an injury at the end of February. Not only did Staal and Nestrasil lead the Hurricanes in CF%, Staal scored 20 goals for the first time since he joined Carolina. The play of these three were a big part of the success of the Carolina Hurricanes the during the months of December, January, and February. Staal’s line’s performance, along with the emergence of the Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask combo, allowed Carolina to claw themselves back into the playoff discussion from the Metropolitan Division Cellar.
But this year is a completely different story. While Skinner and Rask have continued, and perhaps even improved, on their play from last year, Staal, Nestrasil, and Nordstrom are some of the worst players on the team. Sure it’s only two games, but the Staal line’s numbers are in the toilet. They only scored two points between the three of them, and the line has the worst CF% on the team with none of them topping forty percent at 5v5 according to Natural Stat Trick. For a line that was supposed to be the Carolina Hurricanes shutdown line, they sure haven’t showed it so far.
Although the Staal line aren’t the only ones who are performing below expectations defensively (Jaccob Slavin racked up a whopping -10 Corsi differential last night), they seem to do so in a way that even concerns Bill Peters. Per Corsica, Jordan Staal has the same amount of Dzone starts as Jay McClement, and overall the fourth line in general, with 6 which is something that never should happen for a guy considered one of the best defensive forwards in the league. To add even more perspective, Jeff Skinner has 11 Dzone starts so far with his entire line leading the team.
So what can be done to fix it? Well maybe nothing. It is only two games, but a Corsi differential as substantial as what Staal, Nestrasil, and Nordstrom are facing is something that shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Even if you look at the game film, the Staal line has been unsuccessful at setting up a decent cycle when they enter the offensive zone. This leads to a quick exit for their opponent, and leads to the Staal line being pinned down in their own zone. The stats back this up as well. If the Staal line can start playing like we are used to, hopefully some of these OT loses turn into wins, and if not…
#Canes will make some lineup changes for tomorrow. Di Giuseppe, Frk and Nakladal all will play, Peters said.
— Michael Smith (@MSmithCanes) October 17, 2016