After a long layoff, the New Jersey Devils were back in action Monday night. We went over a week without Devils’ hockey. However, this meant we didn’t have to watch the Devils lose for over a week. New Jersey barely got the win in what was – for the most part – an enjoyable game. Granted, when they gave up two shorthanded goals on the same power play, I yelled some obscenities that would make a Harley Davidson-driving sailor blush.
During the game, I saw one particular thing that I did not enjoy. The Devils skating up the ice and just as they are about to enter the opponent’s zone, the puck-possessor makes a drop pass to a teammate following. The dreaded drop pass made another appearance in the Devils’ victory over the Ottawa Senators. At Devils Army Blog we share conflicting opinions on the drop pass. And those of us who are against it wishes the team would use it less.
Where Did It Come From?
Let me preface this article by saying that I’m not a hockey coach, and certainly don’t think like one at the NHL-level. I’m sure Alain Nasreddine and his staff have a reasonable mindset behind using the drop pass, but I cannot figure out what it is. When I imagine their thinking behind some decisions, I imagine a mechanical monkey playing cymbals in their head.
Former head coach John Hynes seemed to have an over-reliance on the drop pass. When he was sent packing, I expected the slow and ineffective zone entry would be utilized less. The eye-test shows that the Devils are using it much less, but still seem to be using it way too much.
Why It Doesn’t Work
The drop pass method is too slow in entering the offensive zone. As mentioned above, we saw the Devils use it against Ottawa a couple nights ago. They waited for a skating player behind to come take possession of the puck. And by doing so, they wasted valuable time on the man advantage.
It also creates less open ice. Instead of utilizing the drop pass, whichever player that has possession can try to take it deeper in the zone, while waiting for reinforcements. Deeper forecheck with the puck, instead of dropping it off, could potentially allow other players to enter the zone and set up a play. Once again, I’m not a hockey coach, but that’s what my observations are on the situation.
Will We See The End Of the Drop Pass?
Most likely not, considering how much the Devils seem to use it. It slows down the game and does allow the players to regroup themselves, so it has its occasional advantages. This is especially true when going against a lowly team like Ottawa. If the Devils were to use the tactic against a team with speed and high skill, it could open the doors to potential turnovers. So, there’s a time and a place for its use. However, in my opinion, I think that time and place is never.
I believe it is boring to watch and has few benefits. I can’t remember the last time an exciting, or quality scoring chance came of it. With all the problems the Devils seem to be having this year, the drop pass might be low on the list of things that need to be fixed.