With the 16th game of the season in the books, the Devils have officially played one-third of the shortened 2012-13 season. This puts us in an interesting position because 16 games is not exactly a large sample size, but a third of the season certainly is. With that, let's look at the basic team stats over at NHL.com and see how the Devils are doing compared to how they finished last season.
Last Season: .622 (8th Overall)
This Season: .688 (6th Overall)
The Devils are essentially winning as many points as they did last season. This is obvious by their position in the standings. They're slightly up from last season, so if this trend continues they should be looking at another playoff berth in the 4-through-6 seeds in the East.
Goals per Game
Last Season: 2.63 (15th Overall)
This Season: 2.62 (18th Overall)
While scoring is up in general this season, the Devils are putting the puck in the net nearly as much as they did last season. This is great news considering the loss of Zach Parise in the off-season. This has obviously been off-set by the production of David Clarkson.
Goals Against per Game
Last Season: 2.50 (9th Overall)
This Season: 2.25 (8th Overall)
Perhaps Brodeur and Hedberg get finer with age, like a good wine. Whatever the case may be, letting one less goal in every fourth game could have a big impact in the shortened season. So long as the Devils scoring remains in the bottom half of the league it's good to see that this number is remaining consistent.
Last Season: 0.93 (19th Overall)
This Season: 1.15 (11th Overall)
This is actually a huge increase. Not only are the Devils outscoring opponents at even strength, but they're scoring an extra goal every fifth game at evens. This is hugely important because the Devils are not scoring an insane amount of shorthanded goals this season, so the even strength goals are making up for it
Last Season: 17.2 (14th Overall)
This Season: 19.7 (10th Overall)
This could be a good sign for the new powerplay philosophy and a vindication of everyone who believed that the powerplay problems last season began with Adam Oates. It's a small increase but over the rest of the season could have a big impact, especially given the increase in penalties being called.
Penalty Kill %
Last Season: 89.6 (1st Overall)
This Season: 80.6 (20th Overall)
I don't think any of us expected a repeat of last season's record setting power kill but this kind of drop-off is inexcusable. A lot of this can be attributed to abysmal performances against the Islanders, so let's hope this trend comes back in the right direction over the rest of the season. Playing the Rangers anemic powerplay three more times should be a huge help to this stat.
Shots per Game
Last Season: 27.5 (27th Overall)
This Season: 26.5 (27th Overall)
Considering the loss of shooting machine Zach Parise, I'm inclined to say that this change, or lack thereof, is even more impressive than the goals-per-game change. Parise shoots a lot of pucks on net. He just put up nine the other night in some game. That is an absurd number. He averaged over 3.5 shots per game last season, so the fact that we're only shooting one less shot per game is a testament to the team making up for the loss.
Shots Against per Game
Last Season: 26.8 (2nd Overall)
This Season: 26.7 (4th Overall)
This is probably where we are most likely seeing the benefits of low turnover in the defensive corps. Corsi might be a better guage of how the defense is really doing, but at a high level, shots against per game is a good guage of how well we're keeping teams from getting scoring chances.
Last Season: 47.1 (29th Overall)
This Season: 45.6 (29th Overal)
Can we get back David Steckel?
That's my take on the movement so far from last season to this season. Overall I think things are pretty good. I'd like to have seen some numbers move in a more positive direction, but without too many additions to the team and one significant subtraction it's refreshing to see the team performing as well as they did last season. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
P.S. I excluded the conditional win percentage statistics due to exceptionally low sample sizes (e.g. winning percentage when leading after two periods).