The New Jersey Devils blew a two-goal lead against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday with just five minutes left in the game. This feels like deja vu because it absolutely is. The Devils have blown their fair share of leads during the season. It’s what happens when a team has a major issue with goaltending. Things get tight when the team has the lead.
However, is this a Devils problem, or is this overblown because there are much fewer comebacks to go with the collapses?
It seems to be the latter. According to Natual Stat Trick, The Devils have allowed 55 goals in 984 minutes while they are leading. The Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks, two teams just as bad as the Devils, and they’ve allowed the same 55 goals in 30 and 90 fewer minutes respectively.
So, the Devils don’t seem to play that much different than other teams when they have the lead. Is this an NHL-wide problem? Never mind, let’s fix one problem at a time.
Let’s look at chances now. The Devils actually have a positive high-danger chances percentage when they are in the league. In those same 984 minutes, they have 207 high-danger chances while in the league. They’ve only given up 179 high-danger chances. Only four other teams in the league have a better percentage when it comes to this specific stat.
So what is happening? Well, again, nothing that doesn’t happen to other teams. The Devils’ losses just come in a more dramatic fashion and the goalie of choice isn’t helping matters. Let’s go back to the Panthers game where the Devils blew a four-goal lead and lost in overtime. They gave up five-straight goals in the third period and overtime to a team that went nuts offensively.
The Devils got absolutely drilled in the third period while they were up by four. They had just nine total chances at even strength and gave up 20. It gets even worse when it comes to high-danger chances. They got crashed 7 to 0 in that period, and that’s how they blew the lead.
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It seems like the blown leads just seem to hurt more. They sting, and that sting doesn’t go away fast. However, it’s not a lasting problem. A good coach will be able to fix this.