Alright, it’s bad.
The Devils — fresh off a summer in which they added a good amount of talent and everyone said they were gonna take a huge step forward — are 0-3-2, having been outscored 21-9 in all situations.
Which is bad.
After a summer like New Jersey had, there was plenty of room to enter the season with optimism (even if it was a little over the top), especially because you’d be getting Taylor Hall back fully healthy and it seemed like Cory Schneider had overcome whatever was plaguing him in the 2018 calendar year.
Even if you thought they weren’t going to take the step forward many others did, you still have to be shocked by the Devils’ poor start. A list of their most effective forwards won’t include Hall, who’s dealing with some shooting percentage problems but also just isn’t generating the kind of offense (particularly at 5-on-5) that you’d expect or, certainly, want.
Jack Hughes, meanwhile, has been a disaster, just looking absolutely overwhelmed even in limited minutes, and without a single point on his account to start the season. When he’s on the ice, the offense just grinds to a halt; he hasn’t been on for a single New Jersey goal in five games.
Some of this is bad luck. Much like Hall, there’s a clear PDO issue team-wide: a shade under eight percent shooting at 5-on-5 puts them 19th in the league, while the save percentage of .883 is sixth from the bottom.
The team’s underlying numbers at 5-on-5 aren’t good by any means (48.6 percent xGF share) largely because the offense can’t get anything going at all. But the real problems are on special teams: No power play goals on 15 chances, and a PK running at ... 50 percent over 16 kills.
When your special teams net is around 25 percent, that’s bad. Really bad. And more than anything else in hockey, that’s going to come across like a coaching thing.
Which, ultimately, is what everyone is talking about right now. You don’t want to overreact to five games or take on outsiders’ expectations, but you can bet the Devils thought they’d at least be vaguely competitive. But you also can’t afford to screw around in Hall’s potential walk year.
Since John Hynes got his extension — defined in vague terms as “multi-year” when it happened — the Devils have been on pace for 63 points over these last 48 games. And that was with Cory Schneider coming alive down the stretch last season. There was optimism his performance in the latter half of 2018-19 would be a harbinger of things to come, but here we are.
The underlying numbers aren’t much better: 45.6 percent of the expected goals in all situations, fourth-worst in the league ahead of only Anaheim, Chicago, and the Rangers. While the PK has been fine (80.4 percent) over that time, the power play (14.1 percent) hasn’t.
There are other caveats here, of course. Injuries last year and so on play a role. But a 63-point pace after an extension can’t fly. Something has to give there, and even if one or two of these results flip to wins — say, both shootout losses — could this team really be encouraged by this start?
Maybe Hynes really is a guy who just doesn’t have the answers. But it’s tough to be confident that changing the coach is going to turn the ship away from that big ol’ iceberg, especially with the number of notable replacement options out there (see: basically none).
Maybe you have to make the change anyway. Maybe two points from five games isn’t the end of the world. But this just can’t be allowed to last much longer.
If it does, might as well start making some calls about Hall being available.
Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks’ goals against per 60 is almost half of their expected goals per 60, and yup, it looks like the goaltending is just gonna be outstanding again.
Arizona Coyotes: We do stan 1,000-game man Phil Kessel but any talk of him being a Hall of Famer is ludicrous. He’s not even close to 400 career goals, let alone taking into account his defensive deficiencies. Come on.
Boston Bruins: Tuukka Rask absolutely going off so far this year and that’s cool, to me.
Buffalo Sabres: Is there not a difference between a “measured approach” and “only playing your best defenseman 18:28 a night?”
Calgary Flames: Milan Lucic is currently getting two-plus minutes of power play time per game for Calgary. In unrelated news, the Flames have one regulation win from five games.
Carolina Hurricanes: Well that’s it!!
Chicago: Starting to think that, despite all the reassurances that a full training camp under Jeremy Colliton would solve some problems, this team just might not have it.
Colorado Avalanche: That’s “future Calder winner Cale Makar” to you.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Saying stuff like, “I can’t promise not to go absolutely psycho mode on these kids” is very normal.
Dallas Stars: Okay, and is zero regulation wins from six games good or not?
Detroit Red Wings: This team is bad! What are we talking about?
Edmonton Oilers: Once again, these kinds of headlines would be more convincing if the Oilers weren’t outscoring opponents 15-5 with McDavid on the ice, and 7-8 without. And at 5-on-5, it’s 7-4 with, 5-7 without. But people are gonna see what they wanna see I guess.
Florida Panthers: Damn the Panthers are shooting like five percent and you can mean business all you want but you’re just not gonna win with a 95ish PDO.
Los Angeles Kings: This is Very Pathetic.
Minnesota Wild: Woof.
Montreal Canadiens: Weren’t they just talking like two weeks ago about trading this guy?
Nashville Predators: If your biggest problem is that your third pair stinks I think that’s fine.
New Jersey Devils: … is that good?
New York Islanders: As of this writing, I don’t see an update on Jordan Eberle’s condition but one of your very few offensive drivers getting hurt: That’s bad.
New York Rangers: Jack Hughes could never.
Ottawa Senators: Same old Senators.
Philadelphia Flyers: Nice to see Nolan Patrick at least getting back to skating.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Nice to see Sid Crosby in DIY mode.
San Jose Sharks: To be fair, playing Chicago can make anyone look competent.
St. Louis Blues: Wow now the Blues are only 3-1-1 to start the season. Disaster!
Tampa Bay Lightning: Yeah, I guess if you’re gonna go on longer road trips, get ‘em out of the way early.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Again, the “losing streak” was two regulation losses to the teams that won the Cup and the Presidents’ Trophy last year, plus a loser point against their biggest rival.
Vancouver Canucks: Yeah it’s almost like they went out and got some solid players this summer.
Vegas Golden Knights: These guys are just insanely capable of absolutely killing anyone on a given night.
Washington Capitals: This thing in the headline is a wild stat.
Winnipeg Jets: Nice to beat someone, I guess.
Play of the Weekend
Insane backhand from an impossible angle.
sammy blais: lol watch this— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) October 13, 2019
Gold Star Award
I think this Hamilton kid might be a player.
So, the statcap for Dougie Hamilton tonight is kind of insane. Led all players in 5v5 minutes, outshot the Isles 32-7 with him on the ice, four individual scoring chances and eight shot attempts. Also a 92 xGF% according to Natural Stat Trick.— Corey Sznajder (@ShutdownLine) October 12, 2019
Minus of the Weekend
Jonathan Quick didn’t start the Kings’ home opener. I mean you obviously get why but check the AAV for another four years of a 33-year-old who looks washed. Grim stuff.
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User “ThreeOfAPerfectPair” is fishing.
“Lucic, $4.25 x 4
Quick, $5.8 x 4”
As soon as Zed gets here, the party will begin.
Ryan Lambert is a Yahoo! Sports hockey columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.
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