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With next to nothing happening in the hockey world, I've decided to take the plunge and write daily profiles for members of the New Jersey Devils.
I'll be commenting on the year each player just had as well as their projected role and expectations for 2019-20. I've written 14 thus far, with Cory Schneider being the most recent player profiled
Today we're taking a closer look at Mackenzie Blackwood.
23 games played, 10-10-0, .918 save percentage
.927 save percentage, .802 high-danger save percentage, +4.08 goals saved above average
Blackwood's cup of coffee at the NHL level went about as well as it possibly could have. He won half of his decisions playing behind a bad, injury-plagued team that ended up picking 1st overall. That in itself is an accomplishment. He didn't just get lucky with goal support in the right games, though. He was very good. He posted a .918 save percentage. That's an impressive number for anyone breaking into the league. It looks even better when you consider the league-average save percentage last season was .905. He was terrific at 5v5 as well, posting a .927SV% that equalled Tuukka Rask and bested what Carey Price, Braden Holtby, Henrik Lundqvist, and Connor Hellebuyck managed to do.
Perhaps more impressive than anything was Blackwood's consistency. Only once did he go two or more games in a row without posting a .900SV% or better. On the flip side, there were three stretches where he went *at least* four games in a row with a save percentage above .900.
Vezina winner Andrei Vasilevskiy (.929%) was only able to outperform Blackwood (.927SV%) at 5v5 by the slightest of margins.
I think it's going to be Cory Schneider's net to start. He has the big contract and name-brand recognition, which he actually played up to down the stretch last season. Unless he's awful in camp, Schneider is going to be designated as the 1A starter. With that said, he's not going to play a *ton* of games. Blackwood is still going to get his fair share of work – it'd be dumb to run a 33-year-old with an injury history into the ground – and his play last season gave plenty of reason to be optimistic he can handle it. Even if his save percentage dips a little bit, he should still enjoy success with the help of what should be a very potent offense.
numbers via naturalstattrick.com and hockey-reference.com
Best forward duo in the Metro Division?
Best forward duo in the Atlantic Division?
Top-5 centers 22 & under?
top-5 wingers in the Eastern Conference?
On Will Butcher's three-year extension
On the Nikita Gusev trade
Pavel Zacha will play an important role in 2019-20
Wayne Simmonds' poor 2018-19 campaign was not a one-off