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Winning Streaks: Bad Year vs a Good One

For the New Jersey Devils to considerably improve over last year’s dud, they will need to string together more wins and points. Come look at the quality of win and point streaks the Devils put together in 2017-18 versus how anemic they were at it last season.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at New Jersey Devils Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

We all know the New Jersey Devils were a poor team last season, and with the quality additions this offseason, we hopefully will not be looking back too much on last season as a comparison tool for this upcoming one.

Something that is fairly noteworthy, however, was how particularly bad last year’s team was when it came to stringing together points. Even when compared to the 2016-17 Devils, a team that finished two points worse in the overall standings than this past season, the team’s ability to put together point streaks was appalling. Here are the numbers from the last three seasons on point streaks of at least six points:

Just look at that. At least in 2016-17, again a worse year overall, the Devils managed 31 points during positive streaks, winning streaks and those added with overtime losses. Last year, of course, they were excellent in this regard. They had some real long streaks, one of 14 points and another of 15 points. Those are huge, and are what get teams to play beyond the beginning of April.

This past season, however? They had one four game winning streak and one three game winning streak. They achieved the four game at the very start of the season, the first four games of the year, from October 6-16, when they won against Edmonton, Washington, San Jose and Dallas. This was technically a home stand, although the Edmonton game was outside of the United States. The three game streak took place after the Christmas break, from December 27-31, when they won a game in Boston followed by two home games against Carolina and Vancouver.

That was it folks. There were several 3 pointers, a win followed by an overtime or shootout loss, and vice versa. And there was even one five point streak, wins against Pittsburgh and in Philly before an OTL against Detroit in mid-November. But they only had two distinct instances where they won at least three games in a row, and after the first four games of the year, never strung together more than three positive games in a row, and even then only rarely. That was particularly poor. Any chance of moving up in the standings, especially in a tight and competitive division, is to put together streaks where you can gain ground on opponents. Without that, with losses sprinkled in there to break those up, gaining ground becomes impossible.

For the Devils to return to playoff contention with their new and improved lineup, they will need to get back to stringing together point streaks and especially win streaks. The 15 and 14 point streaks by the playoff bound 2017-18 Devils were impressive, no doubt, but what perhaps is more so is having 5 streaks of six points. That is three wins in a row, 5 times, for 15 games. That is not trivial at all. 30 points that year came on those short but important streaks, and that added up. In the losing years that bookended that, the team only had one three game win streak each season. Only 6 points there when they missed, versus 30 when they made it. That cannot be understated.

It will be interesting to see if the new and improved lineup that skates out there come October will be more equipped to string together wins and points, but generating those streaks will be vital for the improvement that everyone wants to see.