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A Sinking Ship? The Numbers Through 30

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The last 10 games for the New Jersey Devils have not been very good. They are struggling, even against teams down in the rankings. Without some stellar goaltending, this team may have gone without a win. Are the numbers also diving? Let's look.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday's game against Philadelphia was the 30th game of the season for the New Jersey Devils.  They were the first team in the Metropolitan Division to reach the 30 game threshold.  In fact, the Rangers have not even played their 27th game of the season yet, so the Devils have had somewhat of a busy start to the season as compared to others within the division.

Not only has the schedule for the Devils been busy, but it's been loaded with travel miles as well.  Only 11 of the team's 30 games have been played at the Rock, to the tune of a 3-4-4 record.  The rest have been on the road, especially up north.  Six of the team's games have been played in Canada already, hitting every location except for Montreal (which will not happen until February).  The Devils have done fairly well north of the border, with a 3-2-1 record.  Their road record otherwise is 5-8-0, which is of course subpar.  Sadly, they only travel to Canada once more this year.

Since the last article on the team's numbers, the Devils have gone 2-5-3, which is obviously quite a poor record.  They played generally good opponents, with the Flames, Canucks, Red Wings, Islanders, Penguins, Leafs, Capitals and Blackhawks all having records that are above .500.  Also, most of them are at or near the top of their respective divisions, not just simply a game or two above .500.  So while they performed poorly this last set of 10 games, it is not like they were playing easier competition.  This is especially true considering the injuries and illnesses that New Jersey has gone through and is still currently dealing with.  So an argument could be made that this was just a rough patch for the team, and that they could pick it up when easier stretches of games come around (of course, the opposing argument is that they just got crushed to a bad Flyers team, which is also true).

Nonetheless, results are expected regardless of circumstances, and the Devils have just not been producing all that regularly.  Does that show in the stats?  Let's see.

NHL.com Stats

As always, the first set of stats come from NHL.com. These stats are more of the basic, main stats that will be shown, while the more advanced, possession-based statistics will be shown later on.  This is not a full list of what the site has to offer, so check it out if you want more.  NJ's rank amongst the 30 NHL teams is listed on the bottom row of the chart.

Note: If you need an explanation of what any stat is, a list is at the end of this article. Also, if you would like to compare these stats to the previous articles, they are linked at the bottom.

Team

Point %

G/GP

GA/GP

5-5 F/A

PP%

PK%

S/GP

SA/GP

FO%

NJD

.450

2.27

2.77

0.96

21.8%

76.1%

26.0

31.1

47.0%

Rank

22nd

25rd

20th

19th

8th

27th

29th

22nd

27th

The stats show a general decrease in overall play, which makes sense considering the 10 game stretch that the team just went through.  The one real positive was the power play percentage, which went up over 2%, moving the Devils up 8 spots in the rankings from 16th to 8th.  The penalty kill is also slowly improving, up from 73.4% last time.  However, NJ is still ranked 27th in the league, so it is not like the PK is all of a sudden on fire.  It is just improving from the absolute basement it was in a month ago.

Other than that, however, things either remained poor or got worse.  The team's point percentage is under .500 now, meaning that the Devils have gotten less than half of the possible points they could have gotten so far this season.  NJ is also scoring marginally less now than it was 10 games ago, dropping 2 spots in the rankings.  However, goals against per game is still basically the same, leading to worse results.

A big drop was seen in the 5 on 5 goals for versus against per game.  Up until now, the Devils were at least scoring more goals at 5 on 5 than their opponents were on average.  At last check, they were scoring 1.10 goals per the opponent's 1 goal.  Now, however, they are finally doing worse.  For every goal the opposition scores at 5 on 5, the Devils now only score 0.96 goals.  This is not a winning trend.

Hockey Analysis Stats

The other area I have been looking to for stats is Hockey Analysis.  While there are other websites out there for advanced statistics, and Hockey Analysis even has a new website called Puckalytics, I am used to navigating this website and therefore I am sticking with it for now.  If you would like to check out more advanced stats from other websites, I have linked some good options at the end of the article, and will continue to link more as I find them out.

Note: Advanced stats note only 5 on 5 action, to remove as many score effects as possible.

Team

FF

FA

FF%

CF

CA

CF%

OZFO%

DZFO%

NZFO%

PDO

NJD

841

901

48.3%

1150

1145

50.1%

30.0%

31.9%

38.1%

100.7

Rank

24th

15th

22nd

20th

7th

20th

25th

15th

7th

10th

Not much movement on the advanced statistics front, for better or worse.  The most interesting change that I saw was with the overall Fenwick and Corsi events, both for and against.  The Devils increased their rankings in the overall number of both Fenwick and Corsi For events.  For Fenwick For, the team moved up in rank from 27th to 24th. For Corsi For, the team moved up from 27th to 20th.  However, this trend also has the negative side effect of producing more events against the team.  The team dropped in the rankings in Fenwick Against events from 10th to 15th, and from 5th to 7th in Corsi Against.  What does this mean?  Well, it means that the Devils are getting more attempts on net, which is a good thing; however, they are also giving up more attempts on their own net, which is a bad thing.  The game is opening up a little more for the Devils, for better or worse.  In the end, however, they cancel each other out to a degree, as the team's FF% and CF% were relatively unchanged.

Sadly, the Devils' PDO is also relatively unchanged, sitting at 100.7.  10 games ago, it was at 101.2, so it has dropped a little, just not a lot.  That means that the Devils are still getting their fair share of luck.  As John wrote when he discussed what canning Peter DeBoer would probably not do for this team, New Jersey is already getting some luck.  A new coach will not increase New Jersey's shooting percentage or save percentage.  Those are already up there.  A drastic shift in this team's overall performance, if it came from a new coach, would not be the result of increased puck luck.

Goaltender Stats

For the second time, I am looking at goalie stats.  Now we can start to track how Cory Schneider is doing over time.  We still cannot track how the backups are doing over time, however, because each only has one start.  With the way Keith Kinkaid played against Chicago, however, he may get more chances.

Most of Cory Schneider's stats will come from the Devils' main website, while stats for the backups will come from Hockey Reference.

Goalie

GP

GS

W

L

OT

GA

SA

SV

SV%

GAA

SO

PIM

MIN

QS

Cory Schneider

28

26

11

13

3

68

825

757

.918

2.52

2

0

1,617

14

Rank

1st

1st

12th

2nd

11th

3rd

1st

1st

15th

22nd

8th

20th

1st

N/A

Cory is definitely improving as the year progresses.  His save percentage has continued to rise, and it is now at a quality .918, good for 15th in the rankings.  That moves him up 7 spots from last time.  His GAA is also getting a little better, down to 2.52, which improves him 1 spot in the rankings.  Of course, he is still first in games played and minutes played, so as a result his goals against, shots against and saves rank at or near the top.  While he now has a sub-.500 record, when before he did not, nonetheless those losses can be attributed to poor play from the skaters, not from his ability to stop the puck.

A new stat I added is Quality Starts (QS).  This was developed by Rob Vollman, and is tracked by Hockey Reference.  A quality start is one where the goalie has a save percentage greater than his average save percentage for the year.  If he faces less than 20 shots, however, he only needs a save percentage of .885 to get a quality start, as less shots means less data.  Cory currently has 14, which gives him a QS% of .538, which is not bad at all.  I do not have data for all starting goalies when it comes to QS, so I cannot track rank at this point.

Goalie

GP

GS

W

L

OT

GA

SA

SV

SV%

GAA

SO

MIN

QS

Scott Clemmensen

3

1

0

0

1

8

54

46

.852

4.71

0

102

0

Keith Kinkaid

3

1

0

1

1

3

50

47

.940

1.96

0

92

1

For the backups, there is no point in tracking rank, as they do not start enough.  We just have to look at what they have done and go from there.

It seems pretty obvious who has been better so far.  Both have one start, but have played in 2 other games.  Clemmensen played against Calgary, when the team blew a late lead and lost in the shootout.  Scott gave up 4 goals, plus got wrecked in the shootout in typical Devils fashion.  Kinkaid started against a tougher opponent, Chicago, with a more depleted Devils lineup in front of him.  He was excellent, stopping 37 of 39.  He essentially stole a point for New Jersey, although he also got burned in the shootout pretty good.  The difference in their play can easily be shown by save percentage.  .940 is an excellent save percentage, while .852 is quite poor.  While I doubt he will sustain such a high save percentage, nonetheless I believe Kinkaid has earned himself another start sometime soon.

What Does It All Mean?

For the most part, there has not been too much change in terms of the stats and where the Devils rank amongst the rest of the league.  In general, if there was movement, it was down in the rankings, although there were a couple bright spots.  But I think the lack of change and movement for the Devils is telling, and speaks to what I wrote at the beginning of the article.  The Devils had a brutal stretch of games against really tough opponents.  Even the "easy" opponents, Carolina and Philadelphia, are still division foes and therefore not generally an easy victory. This is especially true when NJ plays Philly, as the rivalry there is strong and every game is intense.  Plus the team has been ravaged by injuries and illness, prompting the emergency call-ups of those such as Mike Sislo and Reid Boucher.  So a poor record over the last 10 games is a little more understandable given the circumstances.

Despite what I just said, however, I am not trying to give the Devils a pass.  If they want to be a good team, they need to beat good opponents.  They have shown, however, that they are not currently a good team, as they cannot beat the really good teams in this league.  Nonetheless, what I am saying is that a potential rebound of sorts is possible.  3 of the next 6 games are against the struggling Stars, Senators, and Hurricanes, so wins there would help to boost the team somewhat.  And once the Devils become healthier, perhaps they can regain a better position in the standings.

Your Thoughts

What are your thoughts?  What do you think the data says about the New Jersey Devils through 30 games?  What other statistical information can you provide that tells something else about this team?  Please leave your comments in the section below, and thanks for reading.

Old Articles:

The First 10 games.

20 Games in.

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.

QS = Quality Start for goalies.  A quality start is when a goaltender has a save percentage greater than his average SV% for the year.  If he faces less than 20 shots, however, he only needs a save percentage of .885 to get a quality start.