The Devils were 12-17-7 when they decided to give Pete DeBoer the boot. Since then they have been 18-12-4. To the untrained eye it would seem as though we are performing at an improved level since the change. That is unless you either 1, watch the games; or 2, look at stats.
Below is a chart from WAR on Ice on some basic statistics for NHL teams since the coaching change on 12/27.
In a couple lines we will show a chart more immediate to my point, but there is at least one very important portion of this chart to point out. The Devils are only controlling 43.9% of shot attempts (among the lowest in the NHL). Yet we are a +7 goal differential that is beyond ridiculous. Schneider must be doing something special. To get a closer look at his total effect on the team let's look at the next chart.
This chart is a mirror image of the one above except its cells contain ranks as opposed to raw data. Try to find the ones the Devils are best in...
I also took the liberty of adding two columns to the end of this list. The average offensive category ranks, versus the average defensive category ranks. The Devils are on average the 22nd ranked team in offensive and ratio categories. They are 1st in strict defensive categories (SvPct, GA). There are two ways to interpret this news.
The Devils are even worse than we thought. This offensive production is not one, two, or even three players away from being enough to make us a contender again. Schneider has been a life raft for a team that is currently struggling to be mediocre.
Schneider isn't going anywhere. If he can carry this team above NHL .500, then who's to say he can't turn an average team into a playoff team? I'm gonna focus on two rows of that last chart.
Can you figure out what two teams are there? I'll give you a second...
Team 2 is in fact your New Jersey Devils. Conference bottom-dwellers and beneficiaries of a ridiculous goalie. Team 1 is the Division-leading President's Trophy contenders, the Montreal Canadiens. Our goal ratios are nearly identical to theirs. They are in a different tier from use in possession, but they are still at the bottom of the league and likely behind most teams the play against. They play a faster game so are higher in total Corsi for and Against (CP60), but that's not particularly relevant to a team quality. Our guys are actually converting shots at a way faster rate which contributes to our league-leading PDO. Our offense and defense average rankings are also identical. The Canadiens are 44-20-7 and in the span of this samle, they are 22-9-5.
Carey Price is the Vezina Trophy favorite and is certainly in the Hart conversation if not leading it. That being said, I don't think I'd have a hard time convincing Devils fans that Schneider is every bit as good as he is. They've got a top end talent edge on us. We don't have a Pacioretty or a Plekanec or a Gallagher. On the powerplay, Subban and Markov are as dangerous a pair as there is in the NHL. At evens though, Greene-Larsson outscore them since 12/27 though, for the record. And we've managed to replicate their stats without the big guns.
Montreal is a better team than us. They are a negative Corsi team but still over 3% points above us. They've got game-changing talent they can lean on and they have young forwards that would through slushies in the faces of our guys. We cannot be a first place team like they are. That being said, I wouldn't be shocked if we undeservedly made the playoffs next year riding on Schneider's back. We would be quickly dispatched by a team that is head and tails better than us in the first round, but goalies can carry teams. It's happening in Montreal right now.
Could the Devils find themselves in the playoffs next year if we get a Vezina campaign from Schneider? Are we too far gone? How does Schneider compare to Price? Leave your thoughts below!