New Jersey Devils Power Play Goes From First to Worst at Worst Possible Time

The New Jersey Devils power play spent most of this season at the top of the league. Now, it's disappeared at a time the Devils are struggling to score in general.
New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86) and defenseman Luke Hughes
New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86) and defenseman Luke Hughes / James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The New Jersey Devils let their power play do a lot of their scoring early in the season. Over the first 20 games of the season, the Devils led the league in power-play goals. He scored 25 goals with the mad advantage and just 37 goals at 5v5. The power play was running things.

At the time, the Devils were still posting decent analytics at 5v5, so even if the power play fell back to Earth, the 5v5 goals would regulate. Everything would even out.

The opposite has happened. The Devils' power play has tanked beyond what anyone thought possible, and the 5v5 goals haven't caught up. Over the last 25 games, the Devils have eight power-play goals. That ranked last in the NHL during that time. Of course, it's highlighted by this current 0-for-21 streak.

The Devils just got shut out by the Carolina Hurricanes despite getting three power plays. Jack Hughes is back, so that can't be an excuse. Ondrej Palat, Timo Meier, Nico Hischier, and Eric Haula are all healthy, so their units are only missing Dougie Hamilton. Was he truly that important?

Hamilton was obviously important, but he was on the ice for just nine power-play goals in 20 games. The Devils downgraded him to the second power-play unit (which the Devils would say actually wasn't a downgrade). One of the things that was really working for New Jersey was they had two great PP units with Luke Hughes quarterbacking the top unit. Now, the first unit is top-heavy again.

The Devils have surprisingly been not so bad at 5v5 scoring. Failing to score on Saturday aside, the Devils have scored 59 goals at 5v5 in their last 25 games. Despite scoring the fourth-most even-strength goals in that time frame, the Devils are 11-11-3. Many will point to the injuries (Jack Hughes missed a ton of time, as did Meier and obviously Hamilton and Jonas Siegenthaler), but they were scoring. Now, they are as fully healthy as they will be all season. And they can't score.

Obviously, this is made worse by how bad the Devils goaltending has been. Sure, Vitek Vanecek was good on Saturday, but he was the sole reason they lost on Thursday. Now, with the power play failing to score every single game, there is no room for error with the 5v5 offense.

The Devils are in a very bad position. The playoffs are slipping away by the game. They have probably 10 more losses for the rest of the season if they believe the playoffs are still the goal. That means scoring has to happen. They aren't even getting high-danger chances. The power play tries the same thing over and over. The puck spends too much time on the perimeter and not enough time near the goal mount.

It's an issue that will literally tank the Devils season. Everything has to go right. That includes the power play. One could argue it has gone so wrong that just by pure luck, the power play will turn around. However, they haven't done much to fix it. It's time to make it clear the PP has to get more aggressive. If it doesn't, it doesn't matter who is in net. We learned on Saturday that the issues with the Devils are so much more than in net. The power play is quickly at the top of the list.