The New Jersey Devils are 15 games into their 2011-2012 season. At 8-6-1 (17 pts), they are way ahead of last year’s pace, but there are some stats that jump out at you that could be cause for some concern.
For a team that stresses defense, it would seem to be important to get out to an early lead. However, the Devils have only scored six first period goals in their 15 games. That is the worst in the NHL. They have allowed 12 goals in the first period. As a comparison, the Flyers (who have scored the most this season) have also allowed 12 goals in the first. The big difference is that they have scored a league-best 25 goals in the first.
Here are some other stats of note through the team’s first 15 games:
- The Devils have outscored their opponent 16-12 in the second.
- The team has been outscored in the third, 10-16.
- The Devils are 7-2 when outshooting (or even in shots with) the opponent. They are 1-4-1 when being outshot.
- The Devils have one PP goal on the road in 21 opportunities (4.8%).
- They have only five PPGs overall in 50 opportunities (10%). That is tied with St. Louis for worst in the league.
Which brings up the Adam Oates question. If he is supposed to be the one working with the PP unit, you have to wonder when someone else will take over those duties.
Looking at the PP numbers before Oates was brought in (prior to last season), the team has actually gotten worse.
Here are the numbers for the last two seasons (with Oates), and for the previous 10 seasons:
2011-12 (through 15 games) – 30th (10%)
2010-11 – 28th (14.4%)
2009-10 – 11th (18.7%)
2008-09 – 15th (18.9%)
2007-08 – 25th (15.6%)
2006-07 – 15th (17.7%)
2005-06 – 18th (17.8%)
2003-04 – 15th (16.3%)
2002-03 – 30th (11.8%)
2001-02 – 9th (16.8%)
2000-01 – 1st (22.9%)
1999-00 – 3rd (20.0%)
The numbers speak for themselves. There is clearly an issue with the power play that needs to be addressed.
One of the issues is taking shots while on the PP. The Devils have had 62 shots on goal in their 50 PP opportunities. As a comparison, the San Jose Sharks have had six more PP opportunities (56) but have fired 71 more (133) shots on goal. The Devils would need almost 12 shots on goal in each of their next six PP opportunities to match those numbers.
On the other end of the special teams units, the Devils are 2nd overall (93%) on the PK. They have killed off 53 of 57 penalties, and have killed off the penalty all 30 times they’ve been shorthanded at home.
Some more stats:
- The Devils have been shorthanded for 13:20 more than they’ve been on the PP this season.
- The Devils are 27th in the league with 294 hits. Columbus is 1st with 444.
- The team is 28th in the league on blocked shots with 181. That is 105 less than Toronto, who leads the league.
- The Devils’ 80 takeaways are 2nd least in the NHL. They have 103 giveaways (24th).
- The team is 24th in the league on faceoffs. They have won 401 of 836 faceoffs (48%).
- The Devils are 1-1-1 after leading in the first period. That is 2nd worst in the league. They are 2-0 when leading after the 2nd.
- When trailing after the first, the team is 3-4. They are 1-4 when trailing after two.
- Martin Brodeur has a .880 save percentage. That is 44th in the NHL among goalies who have made five or more starts. Marty has made six starts and is 2-3.
When you realize that the Devils’ 8-6-1 record includes only three regulation wins, the numbers become a little more alarming.
Half of the Devils’ wins have come in the shootout. With the NHL’s new tiebreaker (greater number of games won, excluding games won in the shootout), the Devils are currently tied for last in the east in non-shootout wins with the New York Islanders and the Winnipeg Jets.
However, you can also take away from all these stats that the team should improve as the season goes on (at least you hope they do), and these early season wins, even if they are OT/SO wins, are still much-needed points that will help once the team starts playing better game in and game out.
The Devils play nine of their next 11 and 11 of their next 15 on the road. This stretch may be the most important part of the team’s season.
It wont be easy, with games at Boston, Buffalo, Tampa (twice), Florida (twice), the Islanders, Colorado, Minnesota, Winnipeg and Toronto. They play at home against Columbus, the Islanders (second game of a home-and-home), Ottawa and Montreal during that 15 game stretch.
The opponents are difficult, with a combined home record of 36-29-6 for the teams that the Devils are playing against on the road.
As for the improvement of the team, whether you like him or not, once Ilya Kovalchuk returns he will add some more offense to the team. He will help the power play, and he will take over the game when needed.
With Adam Henrique and Ryan Carter playing solidly in the middle, and Travis Zajac possibly being about a month away from returning, the center position could be a strong point for the team in the new year.
Zach Parise still looks like he’s recovering from last season’s injury at times. His play should improve as the season goes on…especially after Zajac returns.
Of course, all the team’s problems could be solved with one very simple move: Free Tedenby!
LET’S GO DEVILS!