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November was a very up and down month for the New Jersey Devils.
Despite some truly dreadful performances, and painful inconsistencies, the Devils somehow managed to post a better points percentage than teams like Vegas, Nashville and Vancouver. Go figure.
I’m going to take a closer look at their three best performers of the month, as I’ll do regularly for the remainder of the season.
3rd star - Nikita Gusev
My beautiful son, who happens to be two years older than me, made great strides this past month.
Though there is still definite room for improvement, his play in the defensive zone – almost certainly aided by Travis Zajac and Blake Coleman – does seem to be getting better.
It’s all about the offense with Goose, though. He was brought in to produce and he’s really starting to do that. No. 97 actually led the team in points/60 and shot attempts/60 at 5v5, and was up there when it came to creating chances.
Most importantly, though, Gusev gave us all this wonderful meme. Thank you, Nikita. We love you very much.
2nd star - Taylor Hall
Here is the thing. Hall hasn’t *looked* as dynamic as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. Couple that with all the trade rumors, and his near certain departure, and it’s no surprise some are starting to turn on him a little bit. He is still Taylor Hall, though.
We can talk about the lack of sharpness, and some of the missed opportunities, until the cows come home but at the end of the day the guy still led the team in points, shot attempts, shots on goal, scoring chances, and high-danger chances in November.
The Devils also controlled a significantly larger portion of the shot attempts, chances, and expected goals with him on the ice than without.
Is 12 points in 15 games going to wow you? No, but if that’s a ‘bad month’, well, he’s going to fetch the Devils quite a return at (or prior to) the trade deadline.
1st star - Blake Coleman
Headlined by a four-point performance in a winning effort over Montreal, I thought pickles had a strong month.
He was very productive offensively, scoring five goals at 5v5 – no other Devils player potted more than two in that game state – and leading the way in points with nine. Coleman’s shot and chance generation numbers were strong as well, as he finished 2nd to Taylor Hall in both categories.
While some of his on-ice numbers weren’t all that great, Coleman did manage a team-leading plus-4 goal differential at 5v5 even though he often played against the opponent’s better players.
As a nice little cherry on top, no Devils forward did a better job of suppressing shot attempts, shots on goal, or expected goals while killing penalties.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com
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