The Devils Blue Line, Who should get the Minutes?

The New Jersey Devils have one of the best situations to have in the sport. The Devils have too many good defensemen. So, which defensemen should spend the most time on the ice?

The New Jersey Devils have one of the best situations to have in the sport. The Devils have too many good defensemen. Over the last few years, the Devils have been stockpiling defensive prospects that fans have drooled over while also keeping quite a few veterans around. This season, Lou Lamoriello and Peter DeBoer have started dipping into that prospect pool, and the results have been quite good.

The Devils are number one in the league when it comes to SA/G. They allow 24.5 shots per game. That is more than one shot less than the second best, St. Louis . As for G/G, the Devils are eighth overall in the NHL. In even strength situations, the Devils are seventh in the league in goals per game.

Now, since the Devils have plenty of serviceable defensemen, who should get the most/least ice time. Currently, Greene gets the most ice time by about three minutes. This makes complete sense since Greene plays the most minutes in just about every situation.

Average TOI

Player

TOI/G

Andy Greene

24:50

Marek Zidlicky

21:53

Bryce Salvador

21:46

Eric Gelinas

19:34

Peter Harrold

18:43

Adam Larsson

17:52

Jon Merrill

17:52

Mark Fayne

17:50

Anton Volchenkov

17:08

Basic Stats

Let's start with the basics, who is scoring on defense? Fayne and Larsson each have one goal so far this season. Zidlicky has three goals while Greene and Gelinas each have four goals. The impressive thing is that Gelinas is scoring at a 0.15 G/G pace, high than both Greene (0.11) and Zidlicky (0.09).

What about assists? The same three defensemen (Greene, Zidlicky, Gelinas) each have over ten assists. Given the fact that the Devils are struggling to score, these three defensemen will be staying in New Jersey and will be playing top minutes.

Which Devils defensemen get the most penalties? If you look at penalty minutes per game, Salvador and Zidlicky both hover around one penalty minute per game. So, I think it is fair to note that these two are getting beat quite a bit and resort to tripping/hooking, etc. On the other hand, Jon Merrill has yet to take a penalty and Fayne takes only 0.16 penalties per game.

Fancy Stats

Let's change gears and head over to Behind the Net and look more in depth at player performance by situation.

5v5

Andy Greene and Bryce Salvador consistently face the toughest competition while Adam Larsson and Eric Gelinas face the easiest competition. Not surprising as Larsson is still developing and Gelinas is a rookie. Next up, possession and looking at Relative Corsi. Two players stand out, Greene has a relative Corsi of 4.7 while Eric Gelinas is significantly higher than the rest of his teammates at 8.4. The Devils who are not as good at generating shots and controlling the puck, Volchenkov at -8.9 and Harrold at -6.7.

5v4

Zidlicky sees almost three minutes a game of PP time. Greene and Gelinas see over two minutes. This would help to explain why these three have so many more points than the other defensemen. Gelinas and Green face the easier competition on the power play while Zidlicky and Fayne face the toughest competition. Looking at relative corsi again, Gelinas, Greene, and Fayne are all positive while all other defensemen struggle to control the puck in the offensive zone.

4v5

Three Devils average over three minutes on the penalty kill, Volchenkov, Greene, and Salvador. Volchenkov and Greene also face very tough competition, likely the opposing team's top power play. When Fayne plays on the penalty kill, he plays very easy competition compared to the others.

Who should play the most?

The easy answer is Andy Greene. He plays a lot of minutes on PK as well as the PP. He is comfortable in both zones and has very good possession skills. I think Gelinas should maybe play a minute or two more per game. He is young and has the stamina to skate a few extra shifts over the older players. I think Zidlicky should continue to get 20+ minutes, but perhaps less time on the PK knowing that he continues to pile on the penalty minutes this year. As for Salvador, I think his TOI will be decided by his health once he returns.

Who do you think deserves the most ice time? Or who do you think can handle more ice time without a dip in performance?

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