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Inconsistency is Becoming the New Norm

As Mike discussed yesterday, the Devils are moving towards being a fun team instead of just a bad team. Today, I discuss that this is due to their inconsistent play, and that in fact, being inconsistent is better than simply being bad.

Nashville Predators v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

In many ways this year, the New Jersey Devils have been consistent. Sadly, it has been consistently bad. They have been last in the Metropolitan Division for most of the season, and I am pretty sure since things settled down by November 1st, they have not been anywhere else. They have consistently been in the bottom 10 in Corsi, Goals For, Goals Against, and more. That consistency, sadly, has been present for the last two seasons now.

However, when we look at a smaller, and more recent sample size, what is becoming more and more evident is that in some ways, the Devils are actually becoming somewhat more inconsistent. Now while the term inconsistent has a negative connotation, in reality when compared to what I was just discussing in the first paragraph, moving from consistently bad to inconsistent could be seen as a move in the positive direction.

First, compare these two charts from Sean Tierney. Here is his chart of team shot rates, CF and CA, over the course of the entire season:

As you can see, the Devils are clearly in the bad category. They have a CF/60 under 54, but a CA/60 over 60. That is not good at all. However, here is the same chart, but instead of it covering the entire season, it now covers only the last 25 games:

Looking specifically at the more recent games, the Devils have moved from a “bad” team to a “fun” team, something Mike talked about yesterday. Their Corsi Against per 60 is still atrocious, and is actually worse than when looking over the full season. However, they have become much more adept offensively recently, with a CF/60 hovering around 57%. More teams have been moving in this direction recently in the league, although none of them are quite as dominantly in the fun category as they are in the “good” and “bad” categories. For the Devils, the increase in both their CF/60 and CA/60 has really been due to inconsistency. They have some games they put it together offensively but not defensively, and vice versa. This causes both of their Corsi numbers to go up.

When going game by game and looking at what has happened recently, the inconsistencies there help to showcase the move on that chart. Here is a chart showing the team’s inconsistencies from their January games:

There really is just no consistency in these numbers, except for the most part, they are giving up more goals than they are potting themselves. But they had three great games defensively where they gave up only one goal each, but had six games where they gave up at least 5 goals. Meanwhile, they ranged from 0 goals for through 5, although they only had only game where they scored 5, and never more than that. Their percentages perhaps showcase the inconsistency even more, with their CF% game per game fluctuating over and under 50% quite often. The last six games have gone under 50%, then over it, then back under it again game after game. I tried to highlight this by putting the under 50% numbers in red, versus the over 50% numbers in black.

This newfound inconsistency has moved them down and to the right on Sean’s charts. But again, this is arguably a good move for them. They were consistently bad to start the year. They are still bad, losing more than they are winning by a good amount, but they are showing inconsistent flashes here and there. Perhaps one day, they will be able to put those flashes together and create consistent, positive play.