The last 31 games for the New Jersey Devils have been hit or miss to say the least. Hovering just above .500 in the standings, the Devils have gone 12-14-5 since December 3rd, after going 9-7-7 through the first quarter of the season. I previously wrote about how the Devils need their core forwards to step up significantly for the rest of the season if they want any shot at jumping back in the playoff picture again, which is exactly what Adam Henrique has done over the past two months. Going into New Jersey’s five-game layoff, Henrique registered four goals and seven points in his last five games, putting him at 15 goals and 31 points in 54 games this season. Currently on pace to finish with over 20 goals and 47 points, Henrique is poised to match his career averages in those categories.
While it’s encouraging to see the consistency in Henrique’s game this season, that wasn’t always the case.
Henrique was the subject of concern and dismay for his alarmingly sluggish start to the season, collecting just four goals and ten points in his first 23 games. Considering how he was coming off a career-high 30-goal campaign in 2015-2016, his lackluster scoring output was especially concerning. While the Devils fared pretty well as Henrique endured this slump, his lack of goal-scoring was largely accounted for from the production of players such as Taylor Hall, PA Parenteau, and Damon Severson.
The improvement is especially evident when you compare Henrique’s goal and point totals for the year (.27 GPG, .57 PPG) to his first 23 games of the season (.17 GPG, .43 PPG), and alludes to his tremendous turnaround in offensive production since then. In his last 31 games, Henrique tallied 11 goals and 21 points (.35 GPG, .67 PPG), during which his average goals per game doubled, and his points per game increased by 35 percent. He even went 23 games without a power play goal, and has scored four over the last 31 contests, which along with Palmieri is the most of any player over that stretch.
It’s no coincidence Henrique’s offensive resurgence coincides with his increased shot totals over the last 31 games. Henrique has registered 100 shots in 54 games this season (1.85 per game), and the difference in his shot totals during these 23 and 31-game stretches prompted his offensive resurgence. Henrique had 35 shots on net in his first 23 games (1.52 shots per game), and would register 65 more in his last 31 contests (2.09 shots per game). Another way to show how Henrique’s increased shot totals are resulting in goals are his shot percentages, which is currently .15 for the season. He had a .11 conversion rate in his first 23 games when his shot totals were low, however in his last 31 games, the 27-year old center saw his shooting conversion rate come in at .17.
The numbers clearly show Henrique is performing at the rate we saw him play during the second-half of last season. Historically, he has always been somewhat of a late-bloomer, not quite finding his game until well past the start of the season. If Henrique can maintain this pace, he’ll finish with numbers that vastly exceed the figures he’s currently on pace for, and perhaps factor into any unprecedented late-season runs the Devils may have in store.