Is it time to push the panic button in New Jersey? That’s what Devils fans are asking themselves after a recent string of half-hearted, lackadaisical, uninspiring games. 5 to be exact. Funny; this very same fan base was raving about how good this team was after a 5 game winning streak just 2 weeks ago. That’s 7 games ago. So, the looming question amongst fans right now is “which team is the real New Jersey Devils? The team who went 6-1-3 in their first 10 games or 4-4-1 in their last 9?” Well, as much as it pains for me to say this, the Devils offense is one-dimensional and more resembles the team we have seen play piss poor hockey than the team who rattled off 5 straight wins. Take a look at these stats:
-The Devils have not lost a game this year when they have outshot their opponent. That’s pretty crazy. That means, games in which the Devils can sustain offensive pressure and try to just throw anything and everything on goal, they have a better chance of winning the game than if they don’t.
-The top 2 leaders on the team in terms of shots are…what a surprise, David Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk. The 3rd highest shot total is from defensemen Marek Zidlicky, and he has 23 less shots than Kovalchuk whose 2nd on the team. 4th is Elias whose 25 shots behind Kovalchuk. See where I’m getting at here? Other forwards on this team need to start firing the puck and stop looking to setup Clarkson and Kovalchuk every freaking shift. ESPECIALLY WHEN OUT ON THE POWER PLAY.
-4 out of 19 games this season where neither Clarkson nor Kovalchuk had either a goal in the game or led the team in shots for that night.
+Of those 4 games, the Devils only won once. So, in game in which Kovy and Clarkson are held off the board (which can be done by limiting their shots), the Devils have won just once all year. Makes it pretty obvious what two guys the other team needs to slow down in order to, theoretically, win the game. Actually shutting them down is clearly another issue entirely, but if done, it certainly makes it easier for the opposition.
-Out of 10 wins this season (all of which have been in regulation, mind you), Clarkson or Kovalchuk have scored a goal in 9 of those games.
+That means, the Devils HAVE ONE WIN when neither Kovalchuk nor Clarkson score. Seriously? And people thought this team had scoring depth?
-Out of the 10 regulation wins the Devils have, 8 of them had either Clarkson or Kovalchuk PLUS 1 other top 6 forward score or both Clarkson and Kovalchuk score.
+Simply put, if the Devils don’t have 2 top 6-forwards scoring in a game, they won’t win in regulation. Not only that, but the Devils don’t have a win this season in which 2 top 6 forwards have scored a goal that aren’t named Clarkson or Kovalchuk.
So, Devils fans, I ask you: should the Devils be worried? After looking at these stats and seeing that the team is literally relying on two of its forwards (Ilya Kovalchuk and David Clarkson) to win them games, I’d say, why wouldn’t we be?
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