As I was scrolling through hockey Twitter and looking at stats on Natural Stat Trick to gain inspiration for a topic this week, I was interested in just random stats and where the best and/or worst players on the New Jersey Devils were ranked as compared to the rest of the league. And I figured that maybe others would be interested in that as well, so I decided to make a post of a few fun random stats that I was looking at, where Devils rank in those stats, and what that might mean, if anything. Stats either come from Twitter accounts that I will link to below, or from Natural Stat Trick. Finally, all stats taken before Friday night’s games, so the stats you see from these links will be slightly different, but the rankings should remain mostly the same.
First, how about who is losing the most faceoffs in the league this year in all strengths:
You ever wonder why, at the start of 3 on 3 overtime, the coaching staff throws out Michael McLeod for a faceoff win, then he instantly rushes to the bench for the likes of, say, Nico Hischier? This is exactly why. Nico currently is tied for the 8th most faceoff losses this season at 219, but among the top 9 in the category, he has the worst faceoff percentage, coming in under 40%. That is an atrociously low percentage. While he is an excellent center all around and a pure driver of play on this team, he cannot be counted on at all to win faceoffs, as he will lose at least 6 out of every 10 draws.
It’s very interesting to see that Bo Horvat, head and shoulders above everyone else with 277 losses, also has a dominant 57.32 faceoff percentage. He happens to also rank #1 in the NHL with 372 faceoff wins, so he is obviously taking an absolute ton of faceoffs for Vancounver this year. You want to know the top Devil this year in faceoff wins? That would be none other than Nico, who ranks 53rd in the NHL with 144 wins. So even though he is extremely poor at faceoffs, he is still out there for most of them, which is not good in terms of gaining possession off the draw. For comparative purposes, McLeod is ranked 62nd with 133 wins, and has a FO% of 49.26%, still net negative but way better than Nico.
Next, how are the Devils doing as compared to predictions so far? This one is from JFresh.
So despite the four game skid the Devils were recently on, or actually because of that skid, the Devils are very much in-line currently with preseason predictions, especially as compared to the fan vote that JFresh took. NJ is on an 82 point pace right now, or was before last night’s game, exactly one point per game. That would be somewhat of a disappointment perhaps, but depending on how key players played for the rest of the year, it could be seen as a growth season. But that is basically right were predictions were, having the Devils around 84 points among fans. The average among analyst models was for the Devils to reach 90 points, and that would be a fine season if so overall, but they need to get back on a small winning streak to make that happen. But overall, models from the preseason were pretty on point for our team so far. Especially as compared to the likes of Montreal and both New York teams. Now, you know there’s zero chance the Rangers end at 126 points, so that will come back more towards model predictions at some point.
Lastly, how about rush attempts? Which players are generating the most attempts off of rushes in the NHL? Interestingly enough, this is very team-based, as some teams generate a large percentage of their offense on rushes, while other teams are way more conservative the way they move the puck up ice. Nonetheless, check it out:
Before even getting into that, know that players on the Devils also rank #s 24 through 27 on that list as well. Obviously, looking at that chart, the teams that most rely on chances off of the rush to generate points are San Jose, Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, and New Jersey. They are the only four teams that have players crack the top 22 in the NHL in rush chances. In fact, the first player not on one of those four teams to crack the list would be Alex DeBrincat at 28 overall. So while I initially was looking at this through an individual perspective, and I was interested to see that Dougie Hamilton ranked so high individually in rush attempts, as I looked more closely, I realized that this was really more interesting to look at from a team perspective.
The question I then had was how are these teams doing? Is this a successful coaching tactic in the NHL? Well, before last night’s games, Tampa ranked 4th in the league with 38 points, San Jose ranked 17th with 29 points, LA ranked 22nd with 26 points and the Devils ranked 23rd with 25 points. So other than Tampa, the other 3 teams ranked in the bottom half of the league in points. It doesn’t necessarily seem like a winning tactic if 3 of the four teams who rely heavily on rush attempts are in the bottom half of the league. Of course, there are many other factors that go into a team’s standings and point production, but this is obviously something that is directly correlated to coaching tactics and how to play on the ice, and of the four teams that really utilize rush attempts, one is great and three are not so great. Just something interesting to note.
There you have it, I hope you found some of this interesting. If I don’t see anything glaring I want to talk about while watching games, I generally look through stats like this to determine what I want to write about each week. This week, however, I decided to just take those stats and make kind of like a broad overview article about them instead. I hope you enjoyed it, and let’s go Devils!