The Second Period & The 2010-11 New Jersey Devils - It's Worse than You Think

One of the constant refrains during the 2010-11 season was how the second period seemed to go poorly for the New Jersey Devils.  Yes, the period of the long change has been a thorn in the Devils side once before. The results weren't pretty for 30 days out of last season. However, the performances in the second period have been an issue with this season's squad since the beginning of this season.   Out of a morbid curiosity, I decided to look at the shot totals and scoring in the second period to see how valid this worry is based on the first 27 games this season.

I can confidently say that it may actually be worse than you may think.

I didn't look at anything fancy, just the score before the second period, the goals scored in that period, the shots on net in that period, and whether the game winning goal was allowed in that period.  Very simple, but at the same time very clearly showing that it is no myth that Devils have been pounded in the second period this season.  Please continue after the jump if you'd like to better know how porous New Jersey has been in middle 20 minutes of regulation.

The 27 Second Periods the New Jersey Devils Have Played So Far

Here's the chart of all 27 games.  Again, it's simple, but I think it says quite a bit.

Second_period_devils_performances_27_games_in

Here are some quick facts that I discovered in this chart. Feel free to add your own in the comments:

  • The Devils gave up the game winning goal only 8 times out of 27 second periods, or 29.6%
  • The Devils were out-shot in the second period 16 times out of 27 second periods, or 59.26%
  • The Devils ended the second period with a lead only 6 times this season. New Jersey went 5-0-1 in those 6 games.
  • Only 3 times this season did the Devils and the opposition fail to score in the second period. The Devils won all three of those games (and beyond regulation).
  • In 13 of these second periods, the Devils managed to put up 10 or more shots on net.  The opposition has done so 18 times against New Jersey. 
  • The Devils went into the second period either winning or tied 16 times this season.  In 7 of those 16 instances, they ended the period worse off than before the period (winning to tied, winning to losing, or tied to losing).  The Devils' record in those 7 games was 0-6-1.
  • The Devils have yet to go into a second period losing or tied and come out better by the end of the second (losing to tied or winning, tied to winning).  The Devils did win 2 games despite being tied or losing at the end of the second period: 2-1 over Anaheim (tied after the second) and the 4-3 overtime win over Edmonton (losing after the second).

In total, the New Jersey Devils have been outscored 38-16 in the second period, and outshot 302-248.  A goal differential of -22 and a shot differential of -54.  Even in the 11 times the Devils were either tied in shots or out-shooting the opposition by the end of the second, they were usually losing.  Only twice among those 11 times did the Devils go on to win the game: the 3-0 shutout win over Montreal and the 4-3 overtime win over Edmonton.

The Second Periods Broken Down by Month

Here are the second periods broken down by month.  Most of the damage came in October (8 GA combined in the 7-2 loss to Washington and 4-1 loss to Boston), but the opposition continued to out-shoot the Devils by a good margin throughout the season:

Second_period_devils_perf_27_games_in_summary_1

Even if you throw out those two 4 GA games, the Devils would still be outscored 13-6.  Not as bad as 21-7, but still not good.  November saw improvement on the goal front, however the shot differential remained the same. The Devils still allowed 27 more shots than they put on net in the second period.  It's early in December, but it's not looking good already.  If anything, it furthers the performance and production divide between the Devils and the opposition in the second period.

In terms of shooting rates, the Devils have been shooting 9.16, 9.42, and 8.33 shots per second period in each respective month.  The opposition has been shooting 11.4, 10.8, and 11.7 shots per second period in those same months. 

The Second Periods Broken Down by End of First Period Situation

I made a point of it to record the score after the first period of each game to see what the situations were. Here's the break down by those situations.

Second_period_devils_perf_27_games_in_summary_2

Nine times this season, the Devils went into the second period with a lead.  Four times, that lead was lost en route to being defeated in the game entirely.  The shot differential of -40 is massive.   Being outshot in the second when leading shouldn't bother anyone.  That has more to do the score effecting the game. It's not really a surprise that a losing opposition will be more aggressive and attempt more shots - leading to more shots on goal.  What should bother Devils fans is that the team does not readily build on their lead.  The Devils only outscored their opposition in the second period with the lead twice this season.  In other situations, either there was no scoring or each goal by the Devils was answered with one by the opposition. 

Seven times this season, the Devils entered the second period tied.  Four times out of those seven situations, the Devils went into the third period behind on the scoreboard.  Being outshot by 11 isn't too terrible across 7 games. What's really sad is that the opposition has consistently outscored the Devils when the game was tied.  The game is still very much up for grabs, and more often than not, the Devils are getting beaten.  This especially hurts.

Eleven times this season, the Devils went into the second period losing and they remained losing after the second period all eleven times.  Over the season so far, the opposition has been able to do what the Devils have not: build on their leads.  What's more is that while the Devils' upped their own intentions to shoot, the opposition did the same.  The shot differential of -3 isn't a cause for alarm. Not as much as being out-scored by 12, at least.

If you're into shooting rates, it's 8 to 12.4 when the Devils are winning going into the second; 10.71 to 12.28 when the Devils are tied going into the second; and 9.18 to 9.45 when the Devils are losing going into the second.  So the opposition is shooting at just about the same rate when the game is tied as if they were losing.  That's pretty bad.  Along with the Devils' own shooting rate being worse than when the Devils are losing and need to get some goals.

Long story short: the Devils have been bad in the second period.  Very, very bad.

What can the Devils do about this?

To be honest, I really don't know.  I'd love to say it's motivation or a lack of adjustments, and I think those are reasonable explanations.  How else to explain why the second period has been so awful so many times for New Jersey?  Whether or not those are truly the root issues, I truly do not know.  Without being in the locker room or knowing the players' mentality, I don't know what is or isn't being said.  Nor do I know what can get the Devils "going."  While it does not happen in every game, the second period woes have been constant enough that it is something that needs to be addressed.  It has prevented the Devils from taking leads when it's tied and making comebacks when losing.  Yet, I wonder whether the slumping veteran forwards on the Devils really exacerbates this problem. If the Devils were shooting better, then perhaps the second periods wouldn't be so bad?  But if they can't control shooting percentages, surely then the team can at least work on how they come out in the second period and how they approach an opposition after playing them for 20 minutes, right? That would help the situation, wouldn't it? 

While I don't know, I at least do know that it continues to happen this season with the current coaching staff and player leadership. That suggests to me that they either don't have the answers to solve the problem or they are addressing it and whatever they are doing isn't working. It suggests that there should be some change.

What about you? What do you think the Devils need to do to address the issue? Why do you think the second period has been so bad for New Jersey? Do you think the current coaching staff and players can figure out how to perform better in the second period?    Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the second period problems in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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