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Top 3 Devils Who can Expect a Better Second Half

The Devils are in an ugly spot at the halfway point and it's due a lot to injuries. As we get healthier we can expect to improve, and we might be in line for improvement in other areas too. We take a look at them this week.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Although it's tough to say whether the Devils are underachieving or showing their true colors, it is clear that they have disappointed us so far. I mentioned a few things in my 26 things True Things for Dember 26th article that I'll bring back here, one of which is our CHIP or cap hit of injured players which is one of the highest in the league. These injuries combined with some bad puck luck and a rough schedule means that a big chunk of our players should expect turnarounds in the second half of the season.

1. Patrik Elias

I mentioned in my 26 Things article that Elias's PDO, which was 92.8 at the time, was the 3rd lowest in the NHL was very unlikely to continue and should level out as the season progressed. Since then he has climbed to 94.2 and it has seemed like he's had a fire lit under him. Now if he's actually playing better or if he's just getting the bounces like his PDO numbers indicate is unknowable. What is clear is that his second half of the season has a brighter look than the first half.

He is still in the top 5 on the team with 62 individual scoring chances and he has 4 goals in his last 7 games and 4 points in his last 2. The unexpected back-to-back games with 4 goals is not unrelated to Elias 2-game renaissance.

2. Cory Schneider

Cory Schneider came under scrutiny early in the year. This isn't a fluff sentence that I, the blogger, use because I am not a real writer therefore not capable of coming up with an interesting opening sentence. This is a substantive statement of which people need to be reminded. Cory Schneider was blasted early in the year. I, in true Devil's Advocate fashion, even wrote and intentionally hyperbolic and provocatively-titled piece asking if Cory Schneider was holding the Devils back.

After a good length of time, a clearer picture is being painted, however. One of a team with a litany of young defencemen who have been thrown into veteran roles and are not able to prevent shots and scoring chances the same way we used to. Furthermore, counting on Schneider to handle this bombardment game after game early in the season with pyschotic persistence hurt his performance.

Since December, of the 27 clear(ish) starters in the NHL, Cory Schneider ranks 4th in Adjusted Save Percentage behind only Hiller, Holtby, and Price. Hiller's been a nice surprise for Calgary, Price is a stud, and after underwhelming early, Holtby has the look of finally reaching his potential so this is actually pleasant company to be in.

We may have been a bit eager to declare Schneider the next coming. But he is still a sure-enough thing so that we won't have goalie questions for a good amount of time. For a rebuilding team (if it is ever official that we are that), consistency in the net is invaluable.

3. Andy Greene

So this one comes with a bit of a caveat. He didn't have a terrible first half, but he's had a rough last month.

First, to set the scene, Andy Greene is a perennially stalwart defender. Even this year is top 20 in the NHL in Defensive Point Shares. In fact, he's been top 20 for 3 years. The only other defenders to share that distinction are Marc-Eduoard Vlasic, Drew Doughty, and Duncan Keith. The only defenders with a higher DPS sum over the last 3 years are Vlasic, Dought, and Ryan Suter. That's right, Greene is higher than Duncan Keith on that list. So he is a safe bet to keep it up.

What's been reeaaaaaally hurting him lately is the injuries, in particular the one to new-found partner -- Damon Severson. If we examine the WOWYs, we see Andy Greene is a 50.4% possession player with Severson, but he falls to a 46.4 possession player without him. That's a significant decrease, but when we graph it it gets downright eerie. The output from War on Ice below is the graph of the MA(7) , or the 7-game moving average model, of Andy Green's Corsi Differential. Severson was put on IR on the 18th, but it was due to an injury that occurred on the 6th of December. I highlighted that date on the graph below.

Greene Corsi Diff
Creepy right? As soon As Severson got injured, Greene plummeted to an intensely negative Corsi differential. So this is where the caveat comes in. Andy Greene may have some tough weeks ahead, but if Severson returns on schedule (15th to 22nd of January) then Greene should see a more pleasant second half ahead.

Honorable Mentions

4. (hesitantly) Michael Ryder.

The guy is shooting at 6.6%. That just can't continue. He's a career 12.4% shooter and this is a highly chance-based metric so we've got to expect some regression to the mean from the 2nd-leading scoring chance producer on the team.

5. Jaromir Jagr

Leads the team in scoring chances, has a negative PDO, he's shooting 4% below his career average and 1% below last year, and he's finally playing with Adam Henrique which is something I've been begging for for a while...I did NOT see Scott Gomez in that equation.

Your Thoughts

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