NOTE: Article statistics and info as of 11/22/15
You can view Part One of our quarterly review HERE. Part two of our 20-game overview breaks down the Devils’ progress up to this point by the numbers, and how they’ve impacted the way the team’s played. Mike Luci and Alex Chauvancy look at the Devils’ top performers, underachievers, and what the next ten games have in store.
The Devils, as a team, have been much improved through the first 20 games of this season compared to the first 20 games of last season and it doesn’t show in just their win-loss record either. Through the first 20 games of last season, the Devils had a 47.9% score-adjusted Fenwick, which was in the bottom 10 of the league. Through the first 20 games of this season, they sit at 48.9%, good for 16th in the NHL. Their team save percentage also sits .919% through 20 games this season, compared to .908% through 20 games last season.
The Devils are averaging 2.40 goals a game through 20 games this season while averaging 2.45 goals against. Their special teams have also been a huge part of their success early on. The power play is ranked 4th in the NHL at 22.5% while their penalty kill has surged to 83.8% good for 9th best in the league. The Devils killed off 36/40 penalties dating back to October 31st, having previously just killed 76.5% of power plays they faced through the first ten games of the season. Having gone 90% over the last 10 games on the PK has led it to being one of the 10-best units through the first 20 games this season.
Top performers (ML)
Mike Cammalleri…He currently leads the Devils with 21 points and is the only player on the team averaging at least a point per game. He had four goals and ten points in games 11-20, seven of which came in the last four games. Although Cammalleri put up points in just five out of the Devils’ last ten games, they went 4-1-0 in those contests, which is a testament to how important Cammalleri is to this animated Devils offense.
Kyle Palmieri…The Devils’ second-highest point producer took another big step forward over the past ten games, over which he tallied four goals and nine points. He’s played exceptionally well quarterbacking the top power play unit, currently leading the team with nine power play points. He also shares the team lead in power play goals (four), along with Travis Zajac. While Cammalleri’s line has emerged as the top unit, Palmieri has been the offensive anchor on the second line and has played a huge role in the revitalizing season Travis Zajac has had with the newfound chemistry the two have developed together.
On the hot seat (ML)
Jacob Josefson…The Devils’ third and fourth line centers are the only two players on the team with zero goals in at least 20 games played, one of which is Josefson. He’s been very resourceful on the defensive end but his offensive output is starting to factor detrimentally. He’s Coach Hynes’ fourth-most played forward on the penalty kill, and the fifth-most on the power play, where he’s tallied three of his four assists on the season. For a player that’s been so readily used, his goal-less season might be reflecting on the team’s track record. While Josefson’s average ice time (16:08) remained level over the first 20 games, the Devils are 5-5-1 when Josefson played more than 16 minutes a game, while they’re 6-3-0 when Josefson’s played under 16 minutes.
Jiri Tlusty…Since scoring in the season opener, Tlusty has struggled to find a spot in the Devils lineup. He only has three points with his last one coming back on October 27th. He’s averaged just 12:18 in ice time over the month of November, which is a noticeable decline in comparison to his season average (14:26). Tlusty was brought in with hopes of adding extra offense; however his dwindling ice time is a strong indication that the coaching staff is growingly losing hope in the Czech winger.
Next ten games (ML)
The Devils play six of their upcoming ten matchups at home. Two big goals the Devils should have are to find consistency at home, on the road, and separate themselves from the middle of the pack. The Devils were in the midst of an eight-team pool in the Eastern Conference that fall within a margin of seven points (20-27). They’ll play three games against teams in this group (Detroit, Islanders, Panthers), which could be the most important matchups in this bunch. Their contests versus the Blue Jackets (2-1 loss), Hurricanes, Avalanche, and Maple Leafs seem like easy wins, however the Devils’ recent track record against plundering teams says otherwise. Their greatest challenge will be back-to-back games coming up against the Montreal Canadiens (1-0-1). This is the time of year that playoff-bound teams start to pull away in the standings. Their upcoming schedule gives the Devils have a lot of opportunities to be among those teams.