The numbers behind the New Jersey Devils’ horrific 3-9-1 start

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My goodness, the New Jersey Devils are bad. They’re so putrid it’s almost impressive, to be honest.

Only the Chicago Blackhawks have played in more games this season (14 to New Jersey’s 13), yet the Devils only produced a league-low seven standings points. Their expensive home in Newark is no solace either; they’re an astonishing 0-4-1 in their first five games at the Prudential Center this season.

As a polar opposite study to an earlier stats-heavy glance at the incredible beginning by Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, I thought I’d take a look at some of the most shocking, disturbing and bizarre numbers from this nightmarish 13-game meltdown. Enjoy … unless you’re a Devils fan. If that’s the case you might just want to click on another story.

  • It’s not exactly as if the Devils are endlessly losing one-goal games, as they’ve been outscored 42-20 so far this season. That’s more than three goals allowed per game and less than two goals scored per game.
  • “Stat you’d like to point out if you’re writing an article unfairly bashing Ilya Kovalchuk XVII”: those 20 goals mark the lowest amount the Devils scored in the first 13 games franchise history, according to Tom Gulitti. Gulitti points out that the previous low was 29, which they reached during the 1994-95 season.
  • A fair stat for Kovalchuk-bashers: in the last seven games, the $100 million man has one goal and zero assists for one point and a -4 rating. (Gulitti reveals that Kovalchuk isn’t the only top forward producing little to nothing right now, though.)
  • This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the Devils haven’t won two games in a row yet this season.
  • There is an odd pattern forming in their schedule so far. They lost three games, then won one and then lost two to start the season. After a win against the Montreal Canadiens, they went on to lose three games, win one and then two more. So if you want to be annoying like me, the Habs are the win meat while losing four of five games serves as the bread. Or something.
  • The worst part for the Devils is that they actually are putting more shots on net than they’re allowing. In 13 games, they’ve taken 405 shots while allowing 374.
  • In fact, they lost the last two games 6-1 despite putting up 70 shots and only allowing 26. That means their shooting percentage was a horrid 1.4 in the last two contests.
  • They’ve allowed eight PP goals and only scored three.
  • Martin Brodeur’s save percentage has been below 90 percent for eight of his 13 starts.
  • Two out of their three wins were shutouts and they only allowed one goal in their other win.

So those are some of the odd numbers compiled by this so-far-awful rendition of the Devils. Some of the numbers are obscure and some are illuminating, but they’re almost universally troubling.

New Jersey might be playing miserably right now, but on the bright side, the fact that they are out-shooting opponents indicates that they might start churning out wins if their effort level remains reasonable. Eventually, pucks that weren’t going in should go in over a long season.

The question is: will the team be different when they start getting a few breaks? Will John MacLean still be the coach? Perhaps GM Lou Lamoriello might trade a key component or two?

We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but in the mean time, crane your neck to bask in the horrifying glory that is this train wreck of a 13-game start to the season. Unless you’re a Devils fan, of course. (If so, then … sorry.)

Look at what Rangers are up against right now

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You have to really squint to find bright sides to look on if you’re the New York Rangers.

The Rangers are currently on a five-game losing streak and have one shabby win to show for their first eight games of 2017-18, and they’ll shortly face a challenge in the Nashville Predators, who are riding a five-game point streak (4-0-1 after losing their first two games).

With six of those eight games coming at home, the Rangers are really squandering opportunities in the malicious Metro. About the only positive things you can say boil down to: a) scrapping two “loser points” out of the past two games and b) the team at least saying the right things, as Rick Nash notes according to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks.

“The bad teams I’ve been on, guys get away from the game plan, they don’t give the effort and there’s finger-pointing, whether in the room between guys; from the coach; or in the media. That’s what happens when things get away from you as a team.

“None of that is happening here,” Nash said. “We’re together and we’re focusing on taking this one step at a time.”

They might be wise not to look at the divisional standings. Just consider some of the teams they’re up against:

Devils (12 points in 8 games): New Jersey currently has a perfect road record and a fleet of young legs, something the transitional Rangers must envy. Even if they’re likely to slip (being blanked by the Sharks could be an early sign of regression), the Devils figure to be a tougher out this season.

Penguins (11 points in 8 games): Not much needs to be said, though it’s worth noting that they’ve won three in a row.

Blue Jackets (10 points in 7 games): All signs point to former Rangers coach John Tortorella’s group being very much the threat that once surprised us.

Capitals (9 points in 8 games): Finding ways to win, and scrappy in particular on the road so far (3-1-1 away record).

Flyers (8 points in 7 games): Might be better than their record indicates, at least judging by their +9 goal differential. Philly has the potential to at least be a pesky “bubble” team.

Hurricanes (7 points in 5 games): Light early schedule might keep them under the radar, for now.

Islanders (7 points in 7 games): Mixed results might not help the Islanders retain John Tavares, but a competent Isles team would only make it tougher for the Rangers.

Yeesh, kind of discouraging, right?

The Rangers currently sit at four points in eight games played, and like this post argues, they really need to wake up soon. They’ve already played six home vs. two road contests, and they face a similar saturation of MSG going forward.

Counting today’s game hosting the rising Predators, the Rangers play the next three in a row at home. After that, they play three of four on the road, but then enjoy a three-game homestand.

So, by Nov. 11, they’ll have played 13 games at home and just five on the road.

One gets the sense that the seat is getting hotter for Alain Vigneault by the day. Fair or not, it might feel like it’s boiling if the Rangers are still a wreck in mid-November.

(If he still has a seat at the table, at all.)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Devils fans help singer who forgot words to national anthem (Video)

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The biggest save of the night at Prudential Center on Friday didn’t come from either goaltender, but rather New Jersey Devils fans in attendance for their game against the San Jose Sharks.

Lauralie Mufute began singing the national anthem but midway through forgot the words. That’s when the crowd of 14,381 picked up where the 14-year-old left off and finished the song.

A great job by the crowd in what certainly was a terrifying moment for the young performer.

These flaps happen, as we’ve seen many times before in different situations. It’s always good to know the crowd can act as backup singers in times of need.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

The Buzzer: Ovechkin’s blast lifts Capitals in OT, Sheary speeds by Panthers

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Player of the night: Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

Alex Ovechkin has already reached double digits in goals scored in this new campaign. The Capitals’ star recorded his 10th goal of the season on Friday and it counted as the overtime winner against the Detroit Red Wings.

The Capitals trailed late in the third period, but T.J. Oshie scored the tying goal and Ovechkin won it on a power play less than two minutes into the extra period, as he deployed that famous one-timer slap shot from his off-wing. This time, Petr Mrazek was victimized by the wicked slapper.

Ovechkin is now only two goals behind the entire Montreal Canadiens team — in the same amount of games.

Highlight of the night:

What a weapon speed is in today’s National Hockey League. Conor Sheary illustrated that once again, as he saw a little bit of room down the left side and flew around Alex Petrovic before making a move to the backhand on James Reimer. That goal counted as the eventual winner, as the Penguins defeated the Panthers 4-3. Earlier in the third period, Sheary and Roberto Luongo came together near the Florida net, causing Luongo’s right hand to get caught against the post, injuring the Panthers’ netminder.

Factoid of the night:

It was a milestone night in Winnipeg for Blake Wheeler and coach Paul Maurice.

Scores:

Vancouver 4, Buffalo 2

San Jose 3, New Jersey 0

Washington 4, Detroit 3 (OT)

Pittsburgh 4, Florida 3

Winnipeg 4, Minnesota 3

Anaheim 6, Montreal 2

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Video: Price takes out his frustration, as the Habs were crushed again

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It’s gone from bad, to worse, to an absolute nightmare for the Montreal Canadiens.

A three-game trip through California is never fun for opposing teams, but this was misery for the Habs. They were outscored a combined 16-5 in three games against the Sharks, Kings and Ducks, with few, if any positives beyond the second period in a 6-2 loss in Anaheim on Friday.

Montreal hasn’t won since its season opener on Oct. 5, and is now on a seven-game losing skid, unable to generate much offensively with a league worst 10 goals scored through seven games before tonight, while giving up plenty of goals at the other end.

That is a recipe for disaster and even though it’s still early in the season, this has to be a major concern for coach Claude Julien and, in particular, general manager Marc Bergevin.

Read more: Is there a trade to be made between the Penguins and Canadiens?

Down by three after the first period, Montreal had 30 shots on goal during the middle frame and managed to trim Anaheim’s lead down to one heading into the third period. And then, just when it seemed like maybe they were on a path toward an inspirational comeback on the road, it all fell apart.

Three straight goals for Anaheim, with journeyman forward Derek Grant scoring the first two goals of his NHL career — in game No. 93.

As you can probably tell from the clip below, Carey Price was visibly irritated, as he whacked his goalie stick against the post after the sixth Anaheim goal.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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