One of the marks of a good team is that they are able to win consistently and continually. The mark of a bad team is that they cannot sustain success, and to go along with that, they have trouble emerging from failure. During the half decade the New Jersey Devils were out of the playoff picture, they largely had trouble producing winning streaks. This suppressed their total points throughout each season, leaving them on the outside looking in come playoff time.
Last year, however, the Devils were much improved in the winning streak category. Comparing two years ago, when NJ ended up with 70 points, versus last year, when they ended up with 97, you will see that all of those 27 extra points were gained thanks to longer and more winning streaks. I tallied up all streaks of at least 6 points over the last two seasons, and here they are:
Two years ago, the Devils only had one 3-game winning streak, good for six points. Last year, NJ had 5 such three-game winning streaks, good for 30 points. That is a huge different and major improvement right there. Then, last year the Devils were also able to string together some much larger streaks that they could not make the year prior. In 2016-17, the Devils maxed out at one 10 point winning streak, which was accomplished by winning 5 straight games from November 6th through 15th, 2016.
Last year, however, the Devils managed both a 14 point streak and a 15 point streak. That fourteen point streak occurred from December 12 through 27, 2017, and the 15 point streak was at the most important time in the season, when teams were on their heels for the final wild card position. That was from March 23 through April 5, 2018. Without that final streak, when the team was under a lot of pressure, there would have been no playoff berth. Now, in both of those long streaks I just mentioned, I included games where NJ took overtime or shootout losses and took only one point instead of two, but in those circumstances, they were surrounded by lots of wins, creating a long point streak that is worth noting.
What does it all mean? Well in terms of total points, the 2016-17 Devils were only able to accrue 31 points during winning streaks, while last year they were able to gain 74 points off streaks. That is a monster difference, totaling 43 points. And considering the difference between the 2016-17 and 2017-18 Devils was only 27 points overall, the difference between the two years lies fully within streaks, and then some. The Devils of two years were unable to string together success, while last year, they were able to do so much more regularly.
While you watch the Devils this upcoming season, then, keep it in the back of your mind about how the team is doing in terms of stringing together winning streaks. Are they struggling to win more than 1 or 2 games at a time, or are they able to generate longer streaks of 5, 6, 7 games where they are winning or at least taking 1 point? Even more specifically, the Devils last year had 30 points alone off of three-game winning streaks, while the year before they were only able to generate 6 points in that fashion. Can the Devils string together a bunch of mini three-game streaks? That would be a huge sign, one that would indicate that NJ is still moving in the right direction, and still able to push for a playoff position.