March 15, 2023, 12:57 PM
The Carolina Hurricanes’ worst fears were confirmed Tuesday when it was announced that star forward Andrei Svechnikov would undergo season-ending knee surgery. The loss of Svechnikov is a blow to the Hurricanes, who have been one of the most dominant teams in the NHL this season.
“I hate him more than anything,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour told reporters Tuesday. “He’s worked so hard to get to this point in the year, it’s going to be fun, and he can’t move on here.”
Svechnikov, who finished his season with 23 goals and 55 points in 64 games, was a key part of the Hurricanes’ offense, ranking at or near the top in several offensive categories.
Svechnikov is the second forward in the Hurricanes’ top six to suffer a serious injury this season. They also don’t have proven scorer Max Pacioretty, who played just five games in January before returning to injured reserve after tearing his Achilles tendon again.
That leaves a quandary for the Hurricanes, who, while boasting a league-leading 58.4 xGF% all things being equal, aren’t great at putting the puck in the net. His 4.8 true shooting percentage in all situations is tied for 27th, second-worst among teams in playoff position. (The Minnesota Wild are ranked 29th.)
Unlike their rivals atop the Eastern Conference, the Hurricanes didn’t add much at the trade deadline, acquiring Jesse Puljujarvi from the Edmonton Oilers. (They were trailing Timo Meyer, but were beaten by the New Jersey Devils, who trailed them by two points in the Metropolitan Division.)
Puljujarvi replaced Svechnikov on the left side of the Storm’s top line along with Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis on Tuesday against the Winnipeg Jets. They controlled 29.7 percent of their expected field goals with even force in 11:42 of freeze time, though only one of their nine matchups came in the offensive zone. By comparison, Svechnikov, Aho and Jarvis have controlled 70.7 percent of expected goals on the ice this season.
Aho, who has already done a lot to stop the onslaught of hurricanes, will now have to take on an even bigger role. His 11.4 offensive-generating games per 20 minutes is tied for sixth in the league with Auston Matthews and David Pastrnak. He will count on Martin Negas to score more goals, which he can do.
The Hurricanes’ hole-in-the-hole is their defense, which is best in the league in smothering quality scoring opportunities (2.24 expected goals against per game). But will it be enough to outperform the high-octane teams the Hurricanes may face in the playoffs?
It will take a concerted effort to replace Svechnikov’s contributions.
«There were 20 boys. It was not a single boy. I can tell you,” Print’Amour said. “If we thought a guy was going to do it, it probably wouldn’t have happened anyway. It was never about a boy. He makes it a little more difficult ».