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Five takeaways from New Jersey vs Detroit:
1. The Devils were inept offensively
I'll put last night's game right up with the matinee in Philadelphia as the worst offensive performance of the season. Playing against an old, sluggish Red Wings team that has been decimated at 5v5 all season long, the Devils generated just 36 shot attempts and were out-chanced in that game state. They struggled mightily to generate speed through the neutral zone and produce clean entries. That led to a lot of dump-ins, which resulted in a lot of thrown away possessions. They couldn't generate any sustained offensive zone time and there was just no flow at all.
Taylor Hall's shot contribution numbers were solid but I didn't find him particularly dangerous compared to usual. He didn't get much help, either. I mean, it's not good when in a little over six minutes Kevin Rooney generates as many shot contributions as 2/3 of the 2nd line (Marcus Johansson and Miles Wood).
2. An ugly debut for line 2
I'm not going to lie, I was excited about the Marcus Johansson - Travis Zajac - Miles Wood trio. MJ90 has been creating a fair bit lately and just hasn't been rewarded. With better linemates, I figured this could be a breakout game against a bad, shallow, Red Wings team. That was far from the case – at least at 5v5.
The Devils were out-attempted nearly 2:1 with L2 out there. Making matters worse is they faced some pretty soft competition. In order, the six forwards they played the most were Gustav Nyquist (solid), Justin Abdelkader (bad), Tyler Bertuzzi (meh), Luke Glendening (bad), Jacob de la Rose (bad), and Dylan Larkin (good). You can't ask for much easier than that and they still had their teeth kicked in. What a lunchbag let down.
3. A rare off night for the PK
New Jersey's penalty killing this season has been spectacular. Absolutely spectacular. They've done a great job of not only limiting the chances they give up, but going on the attack and creating some of their own. They had a tough night, though.
They conceded twice and gave up four high-danger opportunities in just over six minutes. *Extremely* small sample size, of course, but that's 40 HD chances per 60. For perspective, the Devils give up less than 10 per 60 on average. The Red Wings broke them down with relative ease and essentially only took shots from the circles in.
4. Cory Schneider did his part
I thought Schneider was fine in his season debut. He made some quality stops throughout and kept the Devils in the game for a long time even though their offense looked as harmless as a golden retriever puppy for much of the night. His numbers (.900 SV%) were somewhat underwhelming, however, he stopped all 23 shots he faced at evens. Maybe he'd want a goal back but it's tough to blame him for conceding while down a man or giving up a rebound goal(!) when the Devils had an extra skater. That simply shouldn't happen.
5. Ending on a positive
On the bright side, I thought Mueller had a pretty decent game. He led the defense in Corsi For%, was not on for any of the four goals, and finished 2nd to Taylor Hall with six shot contributions.
Prior to last night, Mueller was involved in just five of 53 Devils shot attempts he'd been on the ice for in the games I tracked. That's 9.43%, which is horrendously low. He was involved in 40%(!) against the Red Wings.
Numbers from NaturalStatTrick.com and Corsica.Hockey.
On a leaky defensive effort, Johansson's heavy lifting, and a top-9 change
On Johansson, Severson, and 5v5 play