Why Are New Jersey Devils So Much Better On The Road?

New Jersey Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton (7): Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton (7): Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Jersey Devils beat the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night. They thoroughly dominated the Red Wings on the scoreboard. While the game was closer than the 5-1 score indicates, the Devils still came out on top. It’s something that’s a theme for the Devils on the road.

The Devils are 14-2-1 on the road. That’s ridiculous. They have the best road record in the league. Boston has five losses, and so do the Vegas Golden Knights. The Devils have a better road record than both of them, considered the two best teams in the league.

With the Devils playing so well on the road, it’s strange to see how mediocre they’ve been at home. Despite their ridiculous 13-game win streak and wild November win percentage, the Devils lost more home games than they’ve won this season. Of the six teams in the Metropolitan Division race, only the Rangers have a worse home record than the Devils 10-9-2 record.

So, what gives?

The Devils have the second-best CorsiFor Percentage on the road. Only the Hurricanes are better at possession on the road. When looking at the Devils at home, they have the… same ranking. They are once again second and the Hurricanes first. Alright, so their style of play is similar. In fact, the Devils are even better at possession (54.6% vs. 56.6%) at home. (All stats come from Natural Stat Trick.)

Maybe the Devils are getting better quality chances on the road. The Devils are getting 11.5 high-danger chances per game at 5v5 on the road. They get 11.3 high-danger chances at home. That’s not nearly enough to make a real difference on the scoreboard.

Well, if the chances aren’t any different, then is the actual scoring?

The Devils are scoring exactly three goals per game at home. They score 3.9 goals per game on the road. That’s a huge difference. On the road, the Devils have an 11% shooting percentage. That’s ninth in the league. It drops all the way to 8.6% at home, which is the sixth worst in the NHL.

The biggest problem is the goaltending position. The Devils on the road stop 91.8% of all shots. That’s fourth best in the league. At the Prudential Center, goalies stop 89.7% of shots. That’s in the bottom half of the league.

When looking at the goalies individually, the statistics are striking. Akira Schmid has the best save percentage in the NHL of any goalie with at least three games on the road. He stopped 95.7 percent of shots his way. At home, his save percentage is .908. Vitek Vanecek is stopping 91.5% of his shots away from The Rock. When he returns to Jersey, it drops to .913 (which is basically the same). Mackenzie Blackwood, who really struggles either way, is dreadful at home. While he has a save percentage over .900 on the road, his .872 home save percentage is one of the worst in the league.

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So, we don’t have a lock-down answer as to why the Devils are much better on the road, but they are efficient with the opportunities both on the offensive and defensive end. Based on the numbers, it sounds more mental than physical. Are the Devils doing something that is getting in their head? Are they distracted for whatever reason? This comes down to coaching. They are doing the same things right at home, but the results are much worse. Lindy Ruff has to get his team on the right page when they wake up in their own beds.