Kyle Palmieri led the New Jersey Devils in goals last season with 26. It was a somewhat trying time for Palmieri, who was coming off a 30-goal 2015-16 season. In addition to the fact that the 2016-17 Devils were bad, Palmieri endured some lengthy goal-droughts. He only scored seven times in the 2016 portion of the season and only three times in the first two months of last season. The end of the season featured only one goal scored in the last eleven games. In total, Palmieri took thirty fewer shots and played two fewer games compared to 2015-16. Still, Palmieri did get hot to start the 2017 portion of last season and rode a wave of scores to not only lead the Devils in goals, but finish tied for fortieth in the NHL in goals. Despite the issues, Palmieri was a producer last season. Let’s take a closer look at how he did it.
Helpfully, a Youtube user with the name “NJ Devils” put together a compilation video of almost all of the clips of Palmieri scoring last season. It is missing one goal from March 11 in Arizona, which was a more aesthetically pleasing goal than the one that did make the video. Nonetheless, I used this video to get an idea of where Palmieri was when he scored, what the situation was, whether the goal’s assists were legitimate, and other notes. If the clip was too short, then I went to NHL.com to view a video clip of the goal from the gamecenter page of that game for more details.
The Types of Palmieri’s Goals in 2016-17
- Wrist shot - 12 goals
- Deflection - 5 goals
- Rebound, One-touch (not a one-timer, literally re-directing the pass in) - 3 goals each
- Slapshot - 2 goals
- One-timer - 1 goal
Palmieri’s wrister was definitely his most successful shot last season. Whether it was coming off a toe drag or just flicking the stick for a high one in the goalie’s face, Palmieri’s wrist shot worked the most. Of those twelve, only one was a empty net goal. That empty net goal - from January 3 against Carolina - was off a steal. It was not a totally easy one for #21.
Palmieri did benefit from a number of favorable deflections, notably a double-one where the puck hit off Miles Wood’s body and then his own body to go in on February 3 against Calgary. It was definitely the flukiest goal - and really the only fluke - of Palmieri’s season. Palmieri did benefit from two goals trickling through the goalie (Feb. 25 against Our Hated Rivals, Mar. 11 against Arizona), but that was the fault of the goalie. The other four deflections were more or less your traditional-style of deflections; including one on February 25 where it was challenged by Our Hated Rivals and lost miserably. As for rebounds, Palmieri was able to get to the right spot three times.
What was not present were one-timers. Despite seemingly banging quite a few of them in from the right circle on power plays in 2015-16, Palmieri only had the one one-timer. The three one-touches could be described as a one-timer in that he tapped the puck in upon receiving the pass. I designated the two because the one one-timer was a shot and the three one-touches were re-directions of some excellent passes from Taylor Hall.
The Locations of Palmieri’s Goals in 2016-17
Note: Left and right are referenced to the opposition goalie in this case.
- At Net - 8 goals
- Inside Right Circle (from the faceoff dot towards the slot) - 7 goals
- Inside Left Circle - 4 goals
- Below Left Circle - 3 goals
- Slot - 2 goals
- Above Right Circle, Above Left Circle - 1 goal each
If you wanted to find #21 scoring, then look to the crease or the inside halves of the circles. Palmieri was active in getting to the net for bang-bang shots and deflections that went in. The three goals below the left circle were pretty close to the crease too. For a winger, he was able to read the play to get to where the action would be. That said, he was also firing away from both circles for success. While Palmieri did not find much success in the slot or above the circles, that closer range between the dots suited him just fine. Many of his wrist shot goals came from the left and right side with not too sharp of an angle to beat the goalie.
Palmieri was able to stay in that traditional “homeplate” area in the offensive zone designated for scoring chances for 19 of his 26 goals. That number does not include deflections, which would boost the total to be much higher. Palmieri was not and is not a forward who will score from a long distance. With his shot, speed, and desire to get in close, he does not need to be.
As for the locations of where the puck was placed:
- Low left - 7 goals
- Low middle, low right - 4 goals each
- Middle right - 3 goals
- Middle left, high left, high middle, high right - 2 goals each
While Palmieri could provide some real lift for his goals, over half of them were from low shots in 2016-17. Whether it was jamming in a goal (e.g. January 17, his sole one-timer, against Minnesota), sliding in a puck around a goalie (e.g. January 31 against Detroit, his sole shorthanded goal), or beating a Flyer off a faceoff (e.g. March 16), Palmieri was able to keep the puck from elevating too much to get past the goalie. There were some times where he needed to beat the goalie with some height and he did so. But if you want to gameplan against #21, he was more successful with the lower goals.
The Helpers of Palmieri’s Goals for 2016-17
23 of Palmieri’s 26 goals had assists awarded to his teammates. Here is who was awarded the most:
- Taylor Hall - 9 legit assists (6 primary, 3 secondary)
- Travis Zajac - 6 legit assists (4 primary, 2 secondary)
- Damon Severson - 4 legit assists (3 primary, 1 secondary)
- Andy Greene, John Moore - 3 legit assists (2 primary, 1 secondary for each)
- Joseph Blandisi, Michael Cammalleri - 2 legit assists (1 primary, 1 secondary for each)
- Adam Henrique (1 secondary), Jon Merrill (1 primary), Jacob Josefson (1 secondary), P.A. Parenteau (1 primary) - 1 legit assist
- Non-legitimate assists: Zajac (1 primary), Hall (1 secondary), Miles Wood (1 primary), Severson (1 secondary), Moore (1 secondary), Ben Lovejoy (1 secondary)
What is a legitimate assist? It is if the player who was given the assist either completed an intentional pass on the play or took the shot that led to the deflection or rebound for a goal. Any dump-ins, chips from other players, or non-passes that ended up on Palmieri’s stick were not legitimate. As it turned out, most of Palmieri’s 23 goals with assists did have at least one legitimate assist on them. 21 of the 23 primary assists were legit whereas 12 of the 16 secondary assists awarded were also real. Nobody really stuck out as each teammate was limited to one, if at all.
As for who provided real help, it should be no surprise that Hall and Zajac led the group by far. They were Palmieri’s most common teammates last season. Hall created some beauties for Palmieri - Hall is an excellent passer - and Zajac provided plenty of support as well. Beyond them Severson, Greene, and Moore provided the most help from the blueline.
The Additional Notes of Palmieri’s Goals in 2016-17
- Two goals off steals - December 31 against Washington, January 3 against Carolina.
- Two goals where Palmieri was one-on-one with the goalie - December 31 against Washington, March 17 against Pittsburgh
- One 5-on-3 goal - January 21 against Philadelphia (first 5-on-3 goal of the season for New Jersey, too.)
- One true fluke - February 3 against Calgary (off the goalie, off Wood’s body, off Palmieri’s arm and in)
- Most beautiful goal of the season - February 14 against Colorado (wins the puck on defense, chips it to himself, passes to Hall, one-touches the pass-back for a score - OK, this is subjective, but it was a lovely play)
In general, from what I observed, I wouldn’t say that Palmieri piled up goals off the rush or off set plays or anything like that. It was a little bit of everything. Palmieri was largely in that “homeplate” area from the around the crease to the top of the circles inside the dots for his shots. Even his five deflections came in that area. That is where Palmieri found the most success. And it is something that gives me hope that he can replicate for next season.
I would like Palmieri to be able to score more consistently in 2017-18. That slow start and that run of one-goal-in-eleven-games at the end of the season really undercut him. It was entirely possible he could have matched his 2015-16 campaign if it was not for those short-lived droughts. While he played in two fewer games, taking thirty fewer shots did not help the potential goal totals. I would like to see more shots from #21 since he is clearly a shooting winger.
Even so, I’m confident for next season. This review of Palmieri’s 26 goals showed that Palmieri did not benefit from a lot of cheap or fortunate bounces. He only had the one empty net goal. While five of his goals were off the deflections but he intended to deflect four of those. Palmieri still scored a large majority of his goals in a “scoring chance” location as only two were really outside of that zone. And those two were not far outside of the circles either. Those are aspects to his goals that give me confidence that he can do it again. Being active around the net and firing strong wrist shots from good angles are repeatable actions. I think Palmieri can repeat that again, especially if he’s lining up with Hall and Zajac again, who both helped him out the most with legitimate assists. Additionally, please recall that he only had eight power play goals on a poor power play team. An improved Devils power play could help everyone’s counts, including Palmieri. All told, what I saw from this summary makes me think that 30 goals is a realistic hope for Palmieri in 2017-18. Provided he stays healthy and he continues to do what was successful for him in most of 26 goals he scored last season, I think he can do it.
What do you think of this summary of Palmieri’s goals? What have you learned from the 26 goals he scored last season? Do you also think he can achieve more next season based on how he scored the majority of his 26 goals last season? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Palmieri’s goals in 2016-17 in the comments. Thank you for reading.