The New Jersey Devils are absolutely on fire right now. They are 8-1-1 in their last ten games. Much of this winning can be attributed to Ilya Kovalchuk, who is playing at a
fantastic great elite level. However, if you look deeper you can see that Kovalchuk is playing with the hottest offense in the league. The Devils have put up 14 goals in the last four games. What really surprised me was the number of players who scored at least one goal over the last four games. That number is 10! Having ten separate scorers in four games is unbelievable for the Devils.
Last week I posted on the amount of forward depth it takes in order to win the Stanley Cup over the last four years. It seemed that many of you guys enjoyed that comparison, so I did something similar.
The comparison found that the last four Stanley Cup winners averaged 18.25 skaters who accumulated 10 points or more, 12.13 skaters who tallied 20+ points and an average of 3.75 skaters who amassed 50+ points. I expand upon this analysis after the jump.
I added onto the analysis by breaking it down to 10, 20, 40, 50, and 70 point scorers. I included the top eight Eastern Conference teams. The first chart covers the projected number of skaters who will put up the number of points in each tier. The numbers with asterisks lead the group in number of skaters in that group.
The first observation that popped out of this chart is that neither the Panthers, Senators, nor the Rangers have the most amount of skaters in a scoring tier. The Rangers even have the lowest number of ten goal scorers, along with the Panthers... and the Devils.
The Devils are in the middle of the pack in terms of 20, 40, and 50 point scorers. The Devils do lead the Eastern Conference in 70 plus points scorers. Parise, Elias, and Kovalchuk are all on track to record more than 70 points. If a wide array of scoring leads to playoff success, several teams are on track to do well; specifically the Flyers, who lead the Eastern Conference with the most 40+ point scorers. Interestingly, the Penguins have the most 10 point scorers. But fall behind in the rest of the categories.
This analysis shows that there is a mix of scoring "hierarchies" in the NHL. Before I did the math to get the numbers, I didn't think the Devils would be leading in the high scorers category. It's nice to see the Devils owning the 70+ category.
When you include all skaters, the results may have been inflated with secondary assists from defensemen that may not necessarily show the potency of the offense. I'm not demeaning defense, I'm just looking for pure offense. The next chart looked at just forwards.
The results in this chart seem to paint the Devils in a better light. The Devils lead in the 40+ and 70+ categories.Sykora, Clarkson, and Zubrus are players who are estimated to make it to between 40 and 50 points. After those players, the next best Devil is Adam Larsson, with 24 points.
The Bruins lead in every category except 70+ scorers, which proves the belief that many in the hockey world have felt about the Bruins repeating last year's success. The Panthers have the worst balanced offense along with the Senators.
The Devils top two lines have been strong the entire season, which shows in the number upper echelons of the scoring breakdowns. As many of you know, Peter DeBoer and the Devils have been trying many third and fourth line combinations that may have led to the lack of 10 and 20 point scorers. Now that the Devils have sorted through every NHL and AHL player they have the rights to, they will hopefully allow for some chemistry to develop in the bottom six. We will likely see an increase in production from the bottom six forwards down the stretch. If the Devils do not see this production increase, their deep playoff run may be in danger.
One final note: I'll include the Devils' projected point totals below for those of you who are curios at what rate the Devils are scoring (these totals don't include the Toronto game on Tuesday) Let me know if this analysis puts your mind to ease about the Devils' offense or if it won't hold in the playoffs.