Amidst the New Jersey Devils eight game losing streak, there has been a lack of goals. Actually, it seems like there has been a lack of scoring on the part of the Devils for most of the season. With 40 games completed and eight games remaining, I'm going to look at the goal predictions I made right before the beginning of this season and see how the Devils actual production stacks up.
The Devils are currently tied for 26th in goals for in the NHL with San Jose and Nashville. The number of goals for for each of those three team: 94. The only teams behind them are Colorado and Columbus. This season, the Devils are averaging 2.35 goals per game while allowing 2.60 goals against per game. This is good for 17th in the league with a total of 104 goals against. This leaves the Devils with a goal differential of -15, 24th in the league. OK, so the Devils are in the basement when it comes to goal differential and goals for, and mediocre in respect to goals allowed. Perhaps the Devils don't deserve to be in a playoff spot looking at these measures of team performance.
Now that we know how the Devils stack up against teams this season, how do they compare to last year and my predictions from earlier this year? Last season the Devils scored 2.78 gpg while allowing 2.55 and compiling a goal differential of +19. Last years' Devils scored significantly more than this years Devils. This shouldn't surprise anyone since the Devils lost a leading scorer in Zach Parise and a top six forward in Petr Sykora.
So, let's look at what we should have expected from the Devils and compare it to what we have seen through 40 games. According to my projections from earlier this year, the table below shows what we could expect, in terms of goals, in 48 games. Each projection is made using the stats above the number. (Refer back to the past article for more details.)
|2012 GPG||Lifetime GPG||2012 S%||Lifetime S%|
|Projected Goals in 2013:||166||131||129||107|
Currently, the Devils are on pace to score 113 goals this season. So, compared to the predictions, they are definitely on the lower end, just above the team's lifetime shooting percentage. Also, compared to the predictions based off of 2012 stats, it is obvious that the Devils are really missing a key scorer, or two. One thing to note is that the predictions couldn't account for the personnel changes made during the season or injuries that occurred. But honestly, the Devils didn't add any significant scorers this season, mainly role players.
Ok, now that we've looked at the Devils woeful scoring problems, what was the point? The point of this article was to show fans that the Devils aren't necessarily lacking luck. They just don't have the talent required to be a consistent scoring team. Sure I believe that there is an element of puck luck to the game of hockey, but if the Devils get into the playoffs this season, it won't be due to their scoring prowess, it'll be luck. And honestly, would you rather see the Devils get swept in the first round by the Penguins, or miss the playoffs entirely?