A New Season Upon The Horizon
With preseason already here and the NHL season roaring in rapidly for that October 12th start, it is time to think of what this New Jersey Devils team could possibly achieve over an 82-game season. The additions of Tomas Nosek and Tyler Toffoli, among others, can be key depth that will certainly bring veteran leadership and skill in key areas.
Shots For Efficiency
One of those points the Devils will look to improve upon is shot distribution. Factoring goals, shots on goal, and missed shots all together, the New Jersey Devils have generated 60-78% goals and shooting efficiencies from all regions of the ice. The only real weakness is that the shots from the wings on the blue line are where the Devils lack the most efficiency in trying to score more goals.
(All stats via In Stat Hockey)
Having a full season of Timo Meier, Toffoli, and Luke Hughes could juice up those percentages by 4-10% in various areas on the ice with 4 lines to roll, and 3 of 6 defenders that can chip in more frequently. Another factor to play into the 2023-24 productivity model will be “The Travis Greene Effect.”
What is the Travis Greene Effect?
At the peak of Greene’s head coaching career in Vancouver during the 2019-20 season, the Canucks had 57 power-play goals. The NHL average was 42. His team scored 224 goals, which was also above the league average. The PP% was over 24.15%, way above the NHL average of 20.03%. This bodes well for a high-risk, high-reward offensive model that can help the Devils’ offensive distribution to become more balanced.
Under Andrew Brunette, the Devils power play jumped to around the NHL average, but the PP Offensive Zone Entries and passing inefficiencies were a flawed scheme. With Greene coming in with faster, more agile, and really skilled skaters in his toolbox, this should be a faster pace, less passing, and more shots on net-type power play.
If you add all the goals, blocked shots, missed shots, and shots on net, the Devils weakest spots were defending opponents from their blueline. In the left wing, center, and right wing, it goes from 31, 44, 38% defensive effectivity rate. Under Ryan McGill’s defensive system, the forwards must get up top to keep opponents from gaining the blueline and winding up on offense to shoot from those areas. It is a glaring weakness. The Devils can’t let those low-danger goals be scored.
From center ice, the Devils defend over 53% of those shots when they apply pressure in that zone. From behind their own net, the Devils succeed 80% of the time defending their goalies. On the LHD and left wing flanks, there is over 49% efficacy, but there is a need for improvement from last season. From the low to high slots, the Devils are 56 to 71% stronger up front when defending their own net and reducing odds of high quality goals. The right wing flank is over 58% effective, and this area will improve a little more.
Under McGill, mobile defensemen like Luke Hughes, mixed with the skillset of young defenders like Daniil Misyul and Kevin Bahl, provide strong defensive capabilities. The amount of time the Devils spend in their own zone with these youthful legs will drop, helping increase their odds of yielding scoring drives and closing out games with two or more goals.
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When it comes to the playoffs, McGill and head coach Lindy Ruff will need to play a more shutdown, counter-attack game that will lead to even more mismatch rushes. The skaters they have now can pass, shoot, score, and forecheck. They just need to be more punishing in defending their own zone when it comes to players who like to set up camp and tip in cheap goals (we’re looking at you, Christopher Kreider). Guys like Bahl and Misyul come in handy because they take no prisoners and will physically make players in the slot pay a huge tax that allows the Devils to win more playoff games.