While it’s early to say this, and we are still in the midst of it happening, the New Jersey Devils 2022-23 season will historically be looked at as a successful one for the team. After years of struggles, rebuilding and disappointment, the team looks primed to re-enter the postseason, and to possibly do some damage within it as well. The 98 points the Devils have accrued at the time of this writing still sees them sitting third in the entire NHL, and while that tells a lot of the story of the season, there’s a few numbers surrounding those numbers that I’d like to dive a little deeper into discussing today.
Goals For of 247 (as of 3/23/2023)
For a team that still carries a reputation/stigma of “defense oriented” the Devils have shown some offensive prowess this year. Led by Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt, the Devils have piled up 247 goals so far this regular season. Solid contributions from Dawson Mercer, Dougie Hamilton, and even Tomas Tatar have helped add to a total that has the Devils sitting in a three way tie for sixth in the league right. While the Devils could easily move up or down the list over their last 11 games (there’s less than 20 goals separating 3rd and 15th) having a team scoring in the top half of the league has been a large part of what has propelled them to success.
Over the last few games, some of the goal scoring (read: Jack Hughes) has dried up a bit, but the team is still generally trending in the correct direction. There’s also might be some who are disappointed in Timo Meier only having four goals so far, but in 10 games and with limited practice time, it’s honestly not a bad total. The Devils will still need their big names to lead the way down the stretch, but as long as they continue to receive some secondary scoring as they have all season, they should be just fine.
Goals Against of 193 (as of 3/23/2023)
Possibly a more impressive stat for the Devils this season is that they are currently fourth in the league in terms of goals against with just 193 pucks getting behind their goaltenders this season. When you consider the fact that Vitek Vanecek has started most of the season for the team, but only boasts a .909 save percentage, the team’s defending needs to be commended. The Devils as a whole have been committed this season to their defending, and while their style of hockey does still lead to gaffes and off-man rushes seemingly on the regular, the fact is that overall the system is working.
I think the most recent string of games has seen fans more worried about the goals being let in, although I do also think that Tuesday’s game may have helped to reduce the concern level. While Lindy Ruff’s system does lead at times to players pinching at inopportune moments (and the aforementioned odd-man rushes), I don’t think anyone is questioning the effort level of the backchecking, or even the team’s structure when they aren’t caught on a rush. The Devils will need to make sure to tighten up as they enter the playoffs, but it’s a task I think they’ll be up to.
Away Record 26-5-4 Vs. Home Record of 19-13-4 (as of 3/23/2023)
Okay, I’m still surprised that the Devils have the best road record in the league right now (barely, but still), especially when you consider how well the Boston Bruins have played all season. What’s good about this is it means the Devils, if they have to go up against a higher seed at any point in the playoffs, their strong road play could carry over and give them an advantage. While that doesn’t look to be the case right now, things are still close enough that the Devils could finish third, and have to play on the road in round one. There’s also the chance they could run into the Carolina Hurricanes or the Bruins later on, and have to play majority of those series on the road.
The concern I have here is actually the home record, as while the Devils are still over .500 at home, they’re not finding the same success at Prudential Center as they are when traveling. If the Devils earn home ice advantage for round one, it doesn’t mean whoever they face will come in and dominate them, but it does raise concern about deployment and match-ups. As we know, in most situations, the home team gets last line change, so they get to see who comes out and match their forwards and defenders appropriately. Either the Devils are suffering some bad luck at home, or they’re not putting themselves in the best position to succeed. Either way, they’ve got five home games left to figure it out.
Source : AllAboutTheJersey