The stats and information on this article was compiled as of 3/18/15
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Going into the season, former head coach Pete DeBoer didn’t believe scoring would be an issue. When training camp was under way, the Devils appeared four lines deep on paper, which looked like it would pay dividends after the season’s first few games.
The apparent inaccuracy of DeBoer’s predictions…speak for themselves.
At the 70-game mark, the Devils have scored 160 goals this season (28th in the league), which is just six less than the total they had at this same exact time last year. Most of last season’s forwards returned at the beginning of the season. Along with free agent signings and tryout invites that made the last cut, hopes were high the offense would replicate or build on last year’s output, and get bolstered by the additional scoring that would come from newly acquired players.
Clearly, things didn’t go quite as planned.
To further reflect on how big an issue scoring turned out to be this season, it’s worth pointing out the Devils have lost by one goal 18 times this season. Seven of these losses occurred in regulation, 11 occurred in overtime or the shootout. They’ve also been shut out six times.
Below is a chart that compares the goals scored by eight Devils players with notable downward fluctuations compared to what their goal totals were at this same exact time last season (day after Devil’s played on 3/17/14)
*-Player was traded this season
|Player Name||2014-2015 (Goals)||Goals (by 3/18/14)||Differential||2013-2014 (Goals)|
Concerning the trades of Jagr, Zidlicky, and Ryder’s exile to the press box, it’s unlikely that neither of these events would have occurred if these players maintained their scoring pace from last season. Their performance aside, those numbers would have made a difference in quite a few of these one-goal losses the Devils suffered this season.
The combined differential of goals these eight players have at this point of the season, compared to the numbers they had one year ago at this time is -52. It’s understandably realistic to have not expected everyone on this list to replicate or build on last year’s scoring output with factors to take into consideration like age and player’s roles from last year changing.
52 goals has more than enough wiggle room though, to have accounted for at least one goal in each of those 18 one-goal losses the Devils had this season. Even if they wound up losing those seven one-goal regulation losses in overtime, a shootout, and won just five of those 11 post-regulation losses they had, that’s a swing of 12 or so points, which would currently put the Devils neck-in-neck with Boston for the final wildcard spot.
Lou Lamoriello was recently quoted saying he intends on adding two scoring forwards this offseason to accommodate the Devil’s insufficient scoring output. While it’s encouraging, yet uncharacteristic for Lamoriello to shed some insight on his offseason plans, when you consider some of the free agent signings he’s made over the years that were supposed to address his team’s scoring (Ryder, Havlat, Ruuttu, Butler), it makes you wonder exactly who Lamoriello might target. Lou has become notorious for his veteran acquisitions, having little regard for age or speed when these are actually two components his offense has been starving for in recent seasons.
Hopefully missing the playoffs for a third consecutive season is the wakeup call Lamoriello needs to finally commit to a more youthful approach, even if whatever moves he makes aren’t in the direction of the rebuild some believe this team desperately needs.