Today, the New Jersey Devils are traveling to Carolina to take on the Canes in the middle of what is already the team’s third back-to-back, and all of them involving at least one away game. And considering today is the second game, it is obviously the more difficult one given the team just played the night before and had to travel to boot. But looking back over the last few seasons, how have they done in these scenarios? Have they managed to do well in these scenarios, relatively speaking, or have they really tanked and struggled when playing a second game in as many days?
What follows here is a terribly long chart, showing each back-to-back over the last two seasons where the Devils have had to travel in between the two games, and including the two back-to-backs that already happened earlier this year. How did the Devils perform, were they home or away, and were the teams they were playing a playoff team that year? Like last week, surveying results over the last two seasons seems to work well because it involves a playoff season and a tanked season, so you get a Devils team in quite different situations, balancing that part out.
So despite having data from a playoff season to go along with the really poor year last year, the Devils overall have not been a good team when playing back-to-backs, and that concerns both legs. They are a poor 9-13-6 in the first game, including last night’s loss, and essentially the same 9-14-4 on the second game. The quick travel either to or from Newark, or from one away game to another, and playing again right away, seems not to have made much of a difference over the last couple years. The Devils have 24 points in the first game out of a potential 56 points, and 22 out of 54 in the second game. Again, those are bad results overall, way more indicative of the last place finish last year and not the playoff season from two years ago.
Sadly for the Devils, as an Eastern Conference team with short travel time as compared to most all Western Conference teams and even many Eastern teams, the NHL seems to like to throw back-to-backs at them. The Devils are in their third back-to-back this season, which is now around a month in. And they have three more in the month of November alone, all of them involving at least one away game, and then another four in December, two in the same week! If New Jersey wants to gain some ground back that they have already lost, they will need to find success in these games, and from what the last two seasons have shown us, that will not be an easy feat. And speaking of games not being easy, tonight’s will be no joke either, against a Carolina team that dominates the run of play and has for years, posting excellent Corsi numbers. If they play like they have been this season, I wouldn’t get my hopes up, but Carolina is also on the back-end of a back-to-back, so you never know I guess.