After getting embarrassed heading into the all star break, the Devils have sprinted out of the break with their best.  The Devils have picked up 7 out of 8 points. Barring a third period collapse against Calgary, they would have been perfect in terms of wins. As we restlessly wait for the on-ice action to return, fans still have reasons to remain emotionally invested. Only three points out of the last wild card, the playoffs are still a realistic possibility.  On average, 95 points gets teams a guaranteed spot in the playoffs. To reach this feat, John Hynes and crew need to reel off an ~18-7-3 run.  Is it possible?  Anything is possible, but there are some signs from recent play that may leave fans optimistic.  Here are a few thoughts about the Devils play of late and plans moving forward:

  • The Devils possession stats, of late, have been interesting to say the least.  Although they are not better “overall” since the all star break, there are some interesting splits that bode well for them.  Fans have been clamoring lately about the fact that the Devils have taken the foot off the gas when leading (games against Calgary and Detroit).  All advanced stats do indeed confirm that the Devils have done just that. Against Detroit, the Devils let a 4-1 lead dissipate to 4-3 in the third period.  The following game, the Devils let their one goal lead, and a point, slip away (Calgary defeated the Devils in overtime). These results are directly correlated to the Devils corsi% at even strength when leading since the all star break.  The Devils aforementioned corsi% when leading since the break is a lowly 43.64%. Coasting to the finish has given opposing teams a chance to climb back to even, and has cost the Devils a crucial point in the standings. While this trend seems to be negative, one positive split is their corsi% when tied.  Since the break, the Devils have a corsi% of 50.86% when tied. When you have a slight edge in controlling play, and a goaltender of Schneider’s caliber, you are going to build leads a majority of the time. Obviously teams are going to give a push back when they trail.  Still, it is imperative the Devils keep driving play in the manner that got them the lead in the first place.  Hynes needs to make sure his team understands the importance of the moment and does not leave Schneider out to dry.
  • To any fan who had even murmured the word “bust” when talking about Pavel Zacha, start eating your words.  Zacha has really ratcheted up his game and it is beautiful how it is all starting to come together for him. After only logging 7 in his first 37, Zacha has 7 points in his last 9 games.  He is not exactly skating with world-beaters out there either, as he has been skating on a line with Josefson and Noesen.  Zacha also has been extremely integral in igniting the power play.  The Devils power play has gone 6/13 since the break and Zacha is a big reason why.  He currently leads the Devils in power play G/60 with a rate of 2.76. Coach Hynes should start rewarding Zacha with more and more time on the power play because as of right now, he seems to be his best option. Look for Zacha’s game to really come together down the stretch this season.

  • Joe Blandisi needs to be a fourth line fixture.  He provides the sandpaper that teams are looking for on the fourth line while also being faster, younger, and more skilled than most fourth liners.  He has thrown big hits and been on the doorstep of scoring a couple times since being called up.  The Devils were wise to trade Vernon Fiddler, recoup picks, and provide Blandisi a roster spot.
  • It is going to be interesting to see what the Devils are going to do with PA Parenteau. We all thought that the Devils were sure to trade him at the deadline for what would likely be around a third round pick, but Tom Gulitti has brought to everyone’s attention that their would be complications in dealing PA.  View the tweet with the rule below. Parenteau has been productive this year, so it is risky to shop him around deadline day.


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10 COMMENTS

  1. I’ll be honest. I don’t like the bye week this season. Especially if a team has momentum. There’s always this big debate with “rest vs rust”. I’ve seen moments when a team went into a bye week with momentum and they came out of the bye week rusty. The only way to keep momentum is to keep playing, with enough time in between to breathe.

  2. Bye weeks crush some teams with momentum heading into the break. But some teams need that rest to get fully healthy. They have to keep foot on the gas pedal especially with how tight the eastern conference is this year.

  3. I don’t mind a bye week. Hockey is grueling and guys need the rest. But the no practice thing is what I don’t agree with. That’s a recipe for rust. They should be allowed to at least run optional practices to keep the skater legs. It’s what the players wanted out of the new CBA though

    • I do not agree with the bye week, as makes the schedule more compressed. They are given a week off to rest which obviously is needed but in turn they play the same amount of games in one less week, even less time actually if you include the late start to the season due to the World Cup of Hockey. I feel like a more compressed schedule is a recipe for disaster when it comes to injuries

  4. I don’t think the Devils are going to make too much noise in the East. They play in the rough Metro Division and rely to heavily on Schneider to bail them out. They may squeak into the playoffs, but they are going to need more offensive firepower come the playoffs otherwise they won’t score enough to win playoff games.

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