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By the Numbers: 20 Games In

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For the second installment in this series, let's take a look at the numbers for the New Jersey Devils after 20 games played. The last 10 games has seen this team post a 4-6-0 record, but have the numbers also shown a dip in production and play?

Chris LaFrance-USA TODAY Sports

Well it's now 10 games later, and here we are!  These last 10 games were a little more frustrating to watch than the first 10, however.  The New Jersey Devils went from a record of 5-3-2 to what is now 9-9-2.  That is certainly not a good trajectory, as I would have liked to see the team improve off of its decent start.  However, it keeps the team within striking distance of a playoff position, so they are far from done.

As I reflected back on the first article, I think that it is a good idea to post how the team is doing with regards to the numbers every 10-15 games.  Wherever my post falls within that timeframe will be where the number actually ends up, but for this time I can keep it at an even 20 games.  The record clearly shows that the Devils were not the same team so far in November as they were in October.  The question, however, is do the numbers back that up, or have they been losing despite stronger underlying numbers?

NHL.com Stats

The first set of stats will come from NHL.com.  The NHL's main website provides basic team statistics, as well as some interesting additional stats.  I tried to get a mix, and really post what I felt to be the most relevant stats.  If you want a more complete list, however, definitely check out the link. In the bottom row of the chart, I wrote the rank that NJ falls in that category as compared to the rest of the league, 30 being the worst and 1 being the best.

Note: If you need an explanation of what any stat is, a list is at the end of this article.

Team

Point %

G/GP

GA/GP

5-5 F/A

PP%

PK%

S/GP

SA/GP

FO%

NJD

.500

2.40

2.75

1.10

19.0%

73.4%

26.2

30.0

48.3%

Rank

22nd

23rd

18th

13th

16th

29th

28th

18th

24th

As compared to last time, things have indeed gotten considerably worse.  Their worse run of play is not going against the numbers, but the numbers in fact prove their worsening play.  NJ now only gets 2.4 goals per game, when ten games ago it was at 2.9.  This has moved them down 14 spots in the rankings.  Their power play has come more down to earth, now sporting a 19% conversion rate as opposed to it previously being at 25%.  This has also gotten them pushed 14 spots down in the rankings.  The team is also taking about one less shot per game, and the faceoff win percentage has gone down a percentage point.

There are a couple areas of improvement, however, and they mainly come with the defense and goaltending.  The goals against per game for this club have dropped from 3.30 to 2.75, which has moved NJ up four spots in the rankings.  Cory Schneider has been letting fewer goals in as time has moved on, and this is despite the insanely heavy workload.  The penalty kill has also improved thanks to the current streak it is on of 20 or so straight kills without a goal.  The once decrepit 68.2% conversion rate is now standing at 73.4%, although their ranking has not changed.  They are still next to last in the league despite the current streak.  And finally, the team is letting up about a shot and a half less per game, which moved them 5 spots up in the rankings from last time.

Hockey Analysis Stats

Next up, we will look at stats from Hockey Analysis.  These are the more advanced statistics that can tell us a little more about how exactly the team played with regards to possession, if the ice was generally tilted for or against them, and how lucky the team was overall.  These numbers only reflect 5 on 5 play, however, as they become largely skewed when a team is on a man advantage or disadvantage.  Again, an explanation of stats is at the end of the article.

Team

FF

FA

FF%

CF

CA

CF%

OZFO%

DZFO%

NZFO%

PDO

NJD

544

575

48.6%

732

726

50.2%

29.2%

31.7%

39.1%

101.2

Rank

27th

10th

22nd

27th

5th

17th

26th

14th

4th

7th

Despite an overall decline in the first set of numbers, these numbers have not changed all that much, at least in terms of rankings.  They are possessing the puck a little less than they were before, which is indicative of the poor run of play we have all witnessed.  The Devils' Fenwick percentage has dropped 1.3%, which lowers them 4 spots in the rankings and makes them a definitive possession-poor team, at least without regards to blocked shots.  They have also dropped 1% in Corsi, moving them down 3 spots in the rankings, and giving them almost an exactly break-even 50% for possession with blocked shots included.

Everything else is generally the same.  NJ is taking almost exactly the same number of draws in the defensive zone, while taking a little more in the offensive and a little less in the neutral zone.  However, it has not really affected where they rank as compared to the rest of the league.  And the Devils are still a lucky team, with a high PDO of 101.2.  Last time it was at 101.7 so their luck as dropped a little bit, but not as much as one would expect given the team's performance over the last ten games.

Goaltender Stats

This time around, I thought that I would add in stats for the team's goaltenders.  I think that it is a good exercise to also see how well the goalie is or isn't playing, and if it really is affecting the team's overall record or not.  Since I did not post the numbers last time, we will have to make do with starting our log here.  These stats will come from the Devils' main website.

Goalie

GP

W

L

OT

GA

SA

SV

SV%

GAA

SO

PIM

MIN

Cory Schneider

20

9

8

2

49

572

523

.914

2.58

2

0

1,139

Rank

1st

8th

2nd

9th

1st

1st

2nd

22nd

23rd

4th

18th

1st

The issue with ranking Cory Schneider as compared to the rest of the league right now is that he has played considerably more games than most goalies up to this point.  As we all know he has started every single game for this team so far.  This also puts him first in the league in shots against and minutes, and places him second in the league in the number of saves.  The real issue with his numbers are the save percentage and goals against average, both of which are ranked in the bottom half of the league.  Those need to rise if the Devils are to become serious playoff contenders.  His career average in save percentage before this season was much higher than .914, and if he can get closer to his career average the Devils should win more games.  Just cut out those bad goals!

What Does It All Mean?

This time around, I think the numbers are overall indicative of how the team has played.  This current stretch of 10 games has seen the Devils go 4-6-0, which is a sub-500 record and not at all what this team needs to be doing if it wants to stay competitive.

I think that the two biggest areas that need to be improved are in the GF-GA ratio, and in possession.  Right now, the Devils score 2.4 goals per game but allow 2.75 goals per game.  That -0.35 split is not at all a winning ratio.  They need to get that closer to a break even ratio, if not a positive ratio at some point in the next month.

The other area for improvement definitely needs to be possession.  The Devils have been touted in recent seasons as a possession juggernaut, and that was one of the main reasons that this team was in every game and had a chance to win every game.  So many losses this team had used to be against the run of play, not because of it.  Now, when the Devils lose, you can tell that the run of play was against them for the majority of that game, not with them.  This is not good at all in my opinion.  I think it will be very hard for New Jersey to get back to the tops in the league in possession like it was in previous seasons, but it does need to get back into positive numbers.  A Fenwick of 48.6% is really not good.  I am not looking for a 53% Fenwick, but I think that if this team wants to be more competitive and productive, that number needs to be over 50%, preferably pushing 51%.

What Do You Think It Means?

Anyway, that is my opinion.  What do you think about the numbers this time around?  Are they indicative of what you have seen on the ice, or do you see any anomalies that you would like to point out?  How do you think they compare to the first 10 games?  The link to the first article is below if you would like to compare.  Anyway, thank you for reading, and please post your comments in the section below.

Old Articles:

The First 10 games.

Other websites with quality statistics to check out:

www.war-on-ice.com

www.behindthenet.ca

www.puckalytics.com

www.naturalstattrick.com

Statistics Chart:

Point% = percentage of points the Devils have gained

G/GP = goals per game played

GA/GP = goals against per game played

5-5 F/A = Ratio of goals for versus against in 5 on 5 play

PP% = power play percentage

PK% = penalty kill percentage

S/GP = shots per game played

SA/GP = shots against per game played

FO% = faceoff percentage

FF = number of Fenwick events for the Devils

FA = number of Fenwick events against the Devils

FF% = Fenwick For percentage

CF = number of Corsi events for the Devils

CA = number of Corsi events against the Devils

CF% = Corsi For percentage

OZFO% = offensive zone faceoff percentage

DZFO% = defensive zone faceoff percentage

NZFO% = neutral zone faceoff percentage

PDO = statistic to determine luck.  Add a team's shooting percentage and save percentage at even strength.  100 is the mean.