The New Jersey Devils have been up and down since the beginning of the season. However, one specific set of stats shows this is still an elite team.
It’s been an interesting start for the New Jersey Devils. After beating the Detroit Red Wings in the opening contest, a team that is apparently a world-beater, they lost two straight to the Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers. It was a “sky is falling” type reaction to those losses despite it being just three games into the season. Things kept being rocky until this weekend when the Devils beat the Buffalo Sabres on Friday and the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.
With an inconsistent start, one would assume the Devils also have an inconsistent statline. In some instances, it’s true. Their power play is tops in the league, but their penalty kill is closer to the bottom than the top. A 42% power play is not sustainable over the long haul. So, we can’t expect the Devils to keep winning due to the power play entirely. (All stats in this article have been taken from Natural Stat Trick.)
The Devils are actually tenth from the bottom in goals per game at 5v5. That’s obviously pretty bad for a team with this much talent. Leaning on the power-play scoring is a scary proposition, but there’s one stat that eases our concerns. The Devils are leading the league in chances against per 60 minutes and rank fourth in chances per 60 at 5v5.
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Those stats tell a very different story than the 2.13 GF/60. It shows the Devils are DOMINATING at chances. While we personally appreciate high-danger chances more (where the Devils rank 12th in for and 11th in against), chances still tell a story of a team whose talent is taking over games.
The Devils strategy is circled around possession. They want to have the puck as often as possible. They are succeeding there this season. That will eventually lead to goals. Some of it is puck luck, and some of it is just getting more quality chances. However, seeing the Devils get the chances in the first place is still huge.