The first week of the NHL season is about to be complete. Some remain undefeated, and some remain winless. One of those winless teams happens to be the New Jersey Devils. The book they thought was closed appears open, as some of those issues have lingered into this season. The previous trends have leaked into the 2022-23 New Jersey Devils team.
New Season, Same Devils
The 2022-23 New Jersey Devils have similar trends from last season. One area of their game is what made them most noticeable the previous year. But the other area is the one area where improvements were expected to be made. The results paint a much different story. But the script appears to be written; New season and the same story for the Devils.
Even Strength Play
If there was one thing the Devils were good at last season, it was their play at even strength. The team ranked 15th in CF% and finished top ten in even-strength goals. The same trend of being a good even strength team had been displayed in the first two games.
New Jersey dominated Philadelphia in the first game. As a team, they finished with a Corsi For Percentage of 68.89%. In addition to that, the team finished with a whopping 60.02 expected goals-for percentage for the entire game. The domination was on display in the third with a 71.03 xGF%. The issue is they only had two goals to show for it.
The second game in a row painted the same picture. New Jersey dominated at even-strength play and finished with a CF% of 61.95. As shown by their dominance, they finished as a team with a 69.07 xGF%. The team is generating their chances, but the lack of finishing is plaguing them offensively. In just the small sample size of games around the league, the New Jersey Devils rank first in Corsi For with 69.49%. That’s the good part. The bad part is the team only has four goals to show for it.
Notable Players At Even Strength
Jesper Bratt dominated the game in Philadelphia. He finished with an absurd CF% of 88.14, and the team generated 30 chances with him on the ice as opposed to four against. At that rate, keep him on the ice.
Jack Hughes was great against Detroit. He finished with a CF% of 68.18 and when on the ice, the team generated nine high-danger shots. The most noticeable thing is he had a high danger Corsi For of 75%. Just absurd and he did get his looks but could not finish.
All Statistics came from Natural Stat Trick
When the season started, one had to think things would look up for the Devils in this department. Only two games into the season, that has not been the case. Both defeats have seen the team surrender five goals to the opposition. So much optimism was set in for this group, and it has not lived up to their expectations.
After an injury-riddled campaign, a fresh start is in store for the young netminder. In his first start, that was not the case. Getting the first start against the Philadephia Flyers did not go the way he would have wanted. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 20 of 24 shots, and the Devils surrendered five goals. Blackwood’s rebound control was not good in that game. For example; here is a clip of a goal allowed on him where he gave up a poor rebound.
We've been Wading for this. #NJDvsPHI | #FueledByPhilly pic.twitter.com/An0VuYKCOE
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 13, 2022
In addition, he got beat on his glove side twice on gorgeous goals by Travis Konecny and Morgan Frost. He posted a .500 save percentage in the high-danger area of the ice, and .880 in the low-danger area. After a strong showing in pre-season play, this is not what everyone was expecting. Blackwood owns a .833 save percentage, 4.17 goals against average, and -1.47 goals saved above expected.
There is room to rebound, but it’s concerning.
The significant off-season addition was worse than his partner in the crease. Getting the start in the home opener against the Detroit Red Wings, Vitek Vanecek was not good. He allowed all five goals and could not get a timely save for the Devils. Vanecek owns 5.00 goals against average, and a .773 save percentage and finished the game with a whopping -3.4 goals saved above expected. He posted a 0.00 save percentage in the high-danger area of the ice, .833 in the medium, and .880 in the low.
The bottom line is this was worse than Blackwood, and as a whole, the goaltending has been worse than expected to be. After inking s three year extension after the trade, the results need to be better.
New season, same story for the 2022-23 New Jersey Devils. The same script has been written to start this season after hoping to turn the page on last season. The inability to finish and goaltending not being able to make a timely save is apparent early on for this team. They remain a dominant team who controls the play, but only four goals to show for it is not great.
Something needs to change for this team. For a team that has improved in every area of the ice with the off-season additions made, the results need to be better. Going into next week with games against the Anaheim Ducks, New York Islanders, and San Jose Sharks, they will look to right the ship.
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