Devils Must Move on From Nasreddine

Interim head coach Alain Nasreddine took over after former head coach John Hynes was fired on December 3rd. (Photo by: Rich Graessle / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Introduction

Although sports have been lacking in our lives for weeks now, we cannot forget the New Jersey Devils have huge question marks surrounding their organization. One of these is who will be the Devils’ head coach next season. After firing head coach John Hynes on Dec. 3, Alain Nasreddine took over. Given he was able to coach 43 games before play was halted, the sample size is large enough to decide whether or not he should be the guy moving forward. 

Below you can find an in-depth analysis of Nasreddine’s 43 games as the Devils’ bench boss. This performance over this time will also be compared to that of former mentor John Hynes. This will help build a correct interpretation of how Nasreddine has fared.

The Statistics

To put it simply, it has been a rough go of it for the Devils’ interim head coach. Since his promotion on Dec. 3, the team is worse in several different important analytical categories. And the chart below shows exactly that —these statistics in the chart are at five-on-five.

These numbers are so ugly that in some categories the Devils rank worse than the Detroit Red Wings, who were on a historically horrid pace before the season halted. You will notice, however, in the chart one section is higher with Nasreddine behind the bench, this being PDO. The reason for this will be explained further below.

 Corsi For (CF%)Expected Goals For (xGF%)Scoring Chances For (SCF%)High Danger Corsi For (HDCF%)PDO
First 26 Games47.6349.5647.0650.000.973
Last 43 Games45.2345.4543.4447.440.998

The second chart below shows two areas where the team has been better under Nasreddine. In an 82-game season under him, the Devils are playing at roughly an 88-point pace. This would put them on the outside of the playoffs. However, it would be much better than the pace former head coach John Hynes had the Devils on. Worth noting, which will be further discussed later on, is how much higher the team’s save percentage is under Nasreddine.

 RecordSave Percentage (Sv%)
First 26 Games9-13-40.897
Last 43 Games19-16-80.921

Analysis

The second chart above paints a picture that Nasreddine should be considered for the permanent role. Especially considered all the winning the Devils partook in after Nasreddine’s system was fully employed. And as the team should’ve from the beginning, the Devils finally played a more wide-open type hockey, which helped improve the team’s offensive numbers (53.17 vs. 51.12 CF/60). 

However, when you look at both charts, an interesting pattern forms. Although Nasreddine’s Devils have a better record, important underlying statistics have gotten worse, showing the Devils are not playing as well as their record dictates. The reasoning for the better record with the worse underlying numbers? It is simple, better goaltending — as is evident by column three of chart two – which is confirmed by a higher PDO.

PDO is an interesting statistic that several may not be familiar with. It is a sum of a team’s shooting and save percentages. The sum of 100 is considered the mean and where teams will regress to. Teams with low PDOs are considered unlucky, as they are said to be underperforming, while teams with higher PDOs are said to be overperforming.

Notice, the Devils’ PDO is much higher in the last 43 games – meaning they have been “luckier” under Nasreddine than with Hynes. Per the definition, this also means the Devils have been getting results not necessarily correlated with the performance they are putting out on the ice (winning when they do not deserve to). This adds to the narrative that the only reason why the Devils have been performing well is due to their goaltending rather than Nasreddine’s new coaching.

Conclusion

When looking at Nasreddine’s 43-game sample size, it is readily apparent the Devils must move on from him and look elsewhere. Although the Devils have a better record since Hynes’ firing, they have regressed in several important categories. They have been over-reliant on excellent goaltending, which has resulted in a better record and new-found winning ways under Nasreddine. That said, the Devils must take action and look elsewhere for a new head coach for next season.

** Statistics for charts were taken from naturalstattrick.com **

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2 comments on “Devils Must Move on From Nasreddine”

  1. Vincey Reply

    I think we need to know if Fitz is going to be our GM permanently. I can agree to move on from Nas, but personel on this squad has to improve or whoever the next coach is (Boudreau/Gallant etc.) you’ll still be a weak team. I think we need to address size/grit issue especially on the blueline. A good back up goaltender (there will be a few out there).

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