New Jersey Devils: Miles Wood is Starting To Find His Consistency

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 21: Miles Wood #44 of the New Jersey Devils in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 21, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)"n
TAMPA, FL - APRIL 21: Miles Wood #44 of the New Jersey Devils in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 21, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)"n /
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Miles Wood has been one of the most frustrating New Jersey Devils over the past few years.  He has games where he takes over with his speed, but he will also go through long stretches where he is invisible.

A large reason for this inconsistency is likely his shifting around the lineup.  He has been on countless different lines this season, and has struggled immensely at points.  In the entire month of November, he had just one point, a goal against the Panthers.

Wood has had a much better month of December, however.  In his last 7 games, Wood has produced 24 shots. During New Jersey’s three game win streak, Wood has played some of his best games of the year.  In a 5-2 win over the Boston Bruins, Wood had a season high 17:18 of ice time, showing that John Hynes is beginning to put more trust in him. His speed was on full display when he won a race to the puck and fed Nico Hischier for a highlight reel goal.

He followed up a strong performance against Carolina with another good game against Vancouver, where he had a goal and a primary assist, both of which came on the power play.

With Taylor Hall and Marcus Johansson out of the lineup, the door has been opened for Wood to get power play time.  I have never really viewed Wood as an option on the man advantage due to his lack of hands, but he proved me wrong on New Years Eve.  He ripped home a wrist shot from the top of the circle to extend the Devils lead to 2-0. In the third period, Wood received a pass at the blue line, skated in and dropped a pass to Sami Vatanen, who blasted a shot into the bottom corner to put New Jersey up by three.

Along with his success on the power play, Wood has also been successful at even strength.  His CF% at 5v5 has been above 50% in three of the last four games. He has been on the ice for 10 high danger chances for at even strength in the last four games, where the Devils as a whole produced 32 during that time (both according to Natural Stat Trick).

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Wood has looked good on a line with Pavel Zacha at center and Stefan Noesen on the wing.  They each have different skill sets, but it has worked thus far. Wood is obviously the speed guy of the line. Zacha has speed so that Wood is not being held back, and is also skilled and a good passer, despite what his assist stats on the year might say.  Noesen completes the line as a hard nosed winger who goes into the corners and to the front of the net.

As I mentioned earlier, Wood’s struggles throughout parts of this season can largely be attributed to not being able to play with the same linemates.  With both Zacha and Wood gaining confidence due to their good play recently, having these two continue to play together can yield positive results for the team.

At just 23 years old, Miles Wood still has areas of his game that he can certainly improve. Becoming a better defensive player and improving his stick handling and puck control are the two glaring weaknesses that I see with him.

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The chances have been there for him, but his miserable 4.3 shooting percentage has resulted in him scoring just four goals so far this season.  Wood definitely has the potential to be a 20 goal scorer in the future if he can finish more of his chances and become more consistent. His current hot stretch appears to be a step in the right direction to become that type of player.