New Jersey Devils 5v5 Offense Is The Real Issue That Can Be Fixed

There is so much talk about what the New Jersey Devils can do to make the playoffs. While goalie and defense are clearly needs, getting more dangerous offense will probably lead to more wins in the short term.

Montreal Canadiens v New Jersey Devils
Montreal Canadiens v New Jersey Devils / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

There are quite a few shocking stats that have impacted the New Jersey Devils this season. The first place most fans would look is the goalie stats. Vitek Vanecek is 49th in the NHL out of 55 qualified goalies with an .890 save percentage . Both Nico Daws and Akira Schmid are under .900, so nobody is playing well. The goals saved above average is even worse. Combined, the Devils three goalies have saved 19 goals below average. A literal average goalie would save 19 more goals than the Devils trio.

However, that is not why the Devils are losing games at this point. Neither are the high-danger chances this team keeps giving up. It's the fact they haven't been able to produce high-danger chances at even strength.

The Devils had the best power play in the league early in the season, and that masked their issues at 5v5. Now, with one of the worst power plays in the league, the lack of 5v5 scoring hasn't been fixed. It's partially the team as a whole, as most aren't stepping up to the plate. However, the individual effort is staggering.

Who do you think leads the team in high-danger chances? At 5v5, it's John Marino. The former defensive dynamo has been on the ice for 197, even-strength, high-danger chances. For the record, he's also been on the ice for 197 against. Yes, defensemen have more TOI than forwards, but there still should be more players on this list than there are. He's also 59th in the league, meaning you can give each team almost two players before getting to a Devils player on this list (stats via Natural Stat Trick).

Of course, Jack Hughes' injury impacts this, and we'll get to him in a moment, but Nico Hischier has been mostly healthy, Dawson Mercer hasn't missed a game, and Jesper Bratt should be high up on this list. Instead, those three rank 180, 166, and 66, respectively. Hischier at 180 is especially alarming. He's supposed to be this amazing forward who plays both ways equally as well. His individual offensive numbers haven't changed much, but he clearly isn't getting the same opportunities.

Last season, Damon Severson was tops on the list with 358 high-danger chances while he was on the ice. That was one behind Connor McDavid for seventh in the league. Hischier finished 117th, much better than he is this season.

For Hughes, let's look at his 5v5 high-danger rates. He was on the ice for 14.33 HDCF per 60 minutes last season. This year, it's dropped to 10.55 per 60 minutes. That's huge. He ranks 439th in the league in that stat. That is very much not good.

The Devils need to be better at even strength. No team has given up more high-danger goals at even strength. The Devils must make up for it by equaling it on offense.