Mike Luci and Alex Chauvancy dissected the Devils’ overall performance up front, on defense, in net, and broke down their record at the ten-game mark in Part One of our ten-game overview. Our second part takes a closer look at correlations amongst the team’s standard and enhanced statistics, their top performers and under-performers, and the outlook on their next ten games.
|New Jersey Devils||2.40||2.60||25%||76.5%||4.07%||92.9%|
The Devils power play has been one of the strongest aspects of the team through the first ten games. At 25%, it ranked as the 6th best power play in the NHL and that’s where the Devils have been getting a lot of goals so far. The Devils penalty kill has struggled, but they’ve made up for it in part with their power play and were 2nd in the league with three short-handed goals.
Schneider had started all but two games for the Devils and is a big reason why they had a 92.9% save percentage at even strength. Schneider has proven himself to be one of the top goalies in the NHL and he will continue to have a high save percentage at even strength, especially as the young defensive unit continues to develop over the season.
The most important note stat of note here is the team’s shooting percentage at 5v5, which is just above 4%. Only the Ducks and Sabres had a worse 5v5 Shooting% through 10 games. The Devils have been struggling to score at even strength, but if there’s a silver lining to the low shooting percentage, it’s that it won’t stay that low. Even middle-of-the-pack teams shoot in the 7.5-8% range, so expect the Devils number to go up as the season goes on.
Top performers (AC)
The Devils have been getting quality production from their top 6 forwards through the 1st ten games. Of most note is Travis Zajac, who has found new life under new coach John Hynes. Zajac is currently on pace for a 63 point season, a total he hasn’t reached since the days of Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner. He might not finish with that high a point total, but if he does finish with 50-55 points, it’ll be a huge lift for the Devils on the offensive end.
The most surprising forward has been Lee Stempniak, who signed with the Devils after coming into the camp on a PTO. He has been playing on a line with Adam Henrique and Mike Cammalleri through a majority of the first 10 games and has not looked out of place. Stempniak is currently producing at a rate of 0.70 points per game. He hasn’t seen numbers like that since 2006-07 when he produced 0.63 points a game for St. Louis. He finished that season with 27 goals and 25 assists.
Kyle Palmieri has been a nice addition and has been embracing a bigger role with the Devils. The New Jersey native has been a nice addition for the Devils and is looking like one of Ray Shero’s best moves of the offseason so far.
The Devils have been getting solid play from their defensemen. While they may not be racking up points, they’ve been steady in their own zone. The must surprising statistic here is Severson’s start rate in the defensive zone. Through his first 9 games, he’s only started 10.8% of his shifts in the DZ and was also a healthy scratch in the very early stages of the season. For someone who was at 34.8% last season, that’s a huge step down. It seems that Hynes doesn’t have full trust in him in his own end right now and has been sheltering him to start the season.
The two work-horses for the Devils have been Andy Greene and Adam Larsson, who are turning into a top, shutdown defensive pair for the Devils. The two are on the ice for opposing teams’ top lines almost all the time and have earned it through the first 10 games.
David Schlemko and Eric Gelinas have been the biggest surprises, especially Schlemko. Gelinas’ has had his struggles, particularly in the Devils’ shootout win in Ottawa, but Hynes stuck with him and he has responded nicely. As noted in the table above, Gelinas and Schlemko are 2nd on the team for defensive zone starts amongst defensemen, so Hynes certainly doesn’t lack trusting them in defensive situations.
On the hot seat (ML)
Brian O’neill…Despite leading the AHL in scoring last year, he hasn’t quite caught on at the NHL level. The 27-year old has no points in eight games played this year, and personifies the Devils’ issues with their bottom-six. O’neill, Kalinin, Tootoo, Josefson, Matteau, and Gionta have combined for one goal and seven points. Most of these players are more suitable for a fourth line role anyways, considering how all six of these players have combined for just one goal and seven points thus far. A first year player like O’neill needs to start getting himself on the score sheet since that’s what he was primarily brought in for, but hasn’t clicked with the likes of Jacob Josefson, Jordin Tootoo, or Sergey Kalinin.
Eric Gelinas…His play for the most part, is always put under a microscope, but the more tenured he gets, the more he’s expected to be regularly incorporated into the lineup, and become that perpetual booming shot from the point that can be resorted to five-on-five and on the power play. Gelinas’ two-way game has been his biggest shortcoming and the cause behind his short leash that hasn’t been adjusted over three different coaching staffs. Granted both of Gelinas’ two points this year came on the power play, the Devils need more out of him if he wants to be part of the team’s recipe for success this year.
Next ten games (ML)
New Jersey’s upcoming competition is a tad more grueling than the competition they faced in their first ten games. Starting with the Islanders this past Saturday (3-2 shootout win), six of their next ten matchups will be split between three different opponents. The Devils will also face the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks two times each, host the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, and finish their next set of ten games with their Western Canada road trip. The Devils will split their next ten games evenly at home and on the road. If the Devils can keep up their success on the road and at least split between all three teams they’re facing twice, they should be at a far more solid position when their season’s quarter-mark rolls around in late-November.