The Devils are going through a rough time right now.
So I thought I’d point out some things about our current predicament to put it in perspective. I invite you guys to comment about them because I’m interested in how much, if anything, people are reading into this.
1. Obviously the injuries. The Devils have been hit with injuries lately, spiking with injuries to Auvitu, Hall, Palmieri, and a personal issue with Cammalleri in the most recent game against San Jose. Given our lack of offensive depth, this was always going to be tough to deal with. Although it’s worth noting that the Devils have been one of the healthiest teams in the league until this happened. According to CHIP (Cap Hit of Injured Players), before the SJ game, the Devils were the 7th healthiest in the league. And so the injuries over the next few games can be thought of as regressing to the mean.
2. The injuries have a trickle-down effect. It goes all the way down to the 4th line which had been arguably the best at it’s job up until that point. Nick Lapping was moved up and as you can see by his WOWYs, he was simply a different player with Fiddler and Kalinin. Kalinin is now bottom 30 in shot rate allowed, and bottom 20 in offensive zone start percentage. He’s fallen from 6th lowest in shot rate allowed since Lappin moved lines. As I mentioned in the comments section here, that line had taken on the role that Larsson-Greene had and, debatably, were even better at it.
3. We are currently in the midst of the most challenging portion of our schedule both competitively and geographically. This will end around 12/18 which is also basically when we get Hall back. This is good in terms of our overall competitiveness, but bad in terms of our in-year playoff prospects since we will likely continue to struggle through that stretch.
4. If any of you regular readers know any single fact about me, it is my profound hatred of Jon Merrill (his game, not the person... well...). Regardless of my personal biases —based on facts over the course of 3 years of data — this year, we have replaced Yohann Auvitu, our defensive xGF% leader with Jon Merrill our xGF% reject (from Corsica). This has likely hurt us both offensively and defensively. I will not rest until we ditch the deadweight and absolve ourselves of miserable Merrill.
5. The Devils are not terrible. Even accounting for recent events, we are still an average SRS team and our PDO has fallen back down to earth. This is, in part, due to the fact that Cory Schneider has had a sub-.900 save percentage 4 of the last 7 games, and below his year average 5 of the last 7 games. Also, I tweeted last week about his shutout slump which now stands at 34 games and 312 days.
I want your perspective. What do you guys think is real and not real about this slump? Are you worried at all about the performance of the team in the absence of a few stars? Is this a poor commentary on our depth or just an unfortunate convergence of events that will fade?
Please offer your input in the comments section — I’m interested to see what mindset people are in right now.