Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton, Martin Brodeur

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.)

It’s all about experience for Red Wings sophomore bench boss Blashill

Detroit Red Wing training camp, day one
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This post is part of Detroit Red Wings day at PHT…

Let’s be honest: It’s probably not easy to replace a coach of Mike Babcock’s repute.

More than a year ago, Babcock went to the rebuilding Toronto Maple Leafs and is being paid a lot of money — an estimated $50 million over eight years — to coach in that market. Meanwhile, back in Detroit and with Babcock out of the picture, the Red Wings turned to Jeff Blashill as their new bench boss.

True, Blashill had spent time as a head coach in the USHL, college ranks and with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL. But he had no experience as an NHL head coach prior to the 2015-16 season and just one season as an NHL assistant when he was part of Babcock’s staff in 2011-12.

After a 41-30-11 regular season record and another playoff appearance, the 25th straight in Detroit, the Red Wings were bounced in the first round. One of the priorities for general manager Ken Holland this offseason was to insulate Blashill by bringing in more experienced assistants.

The Red Wings hired John Torchetti, previously the interim head coach in Minnesota, and long-time Boston assistant Doug Houda. Those moves were part of a larger coaching shake-up within the organization, as Tony Granato left for a head coaching job at Wisconsin, goalie coach Jim Bedard was not brought back and assistant Pat Ferschweiler, who ran the team’s 13th-ranked power play last season, was reassigned.

Blashill told MLive.com that “player development” will be a large part of Ferschweiler’s role going forward.

“I think it’ll be a real benefit,” Blashill told the Detroit Free Press of the additions to the Red Wings staff. “Lots of years behind NHL benches. I’ve only had two years on an NHL bench. That’s a scenario where I can learn from their past experiences.”

It’s all about experience.

Two years ago, Blashill was touted by Holland as an “NHL coach in the making.” A month later, he was given a three-year contract extension to coach the Griffins, so clearly they thought highly of Blashill by keeping him as opposed to potentially losing him to another NHL club. A year later, he was tapped on to replace Mike Babcock.

In this case, patience may be required, too. That may be easier said than done from a fan’s perspective because as impressive as Detroit’s current run of consecutive playoff appearances is, they haven’t made it out of the first round in their last three tries.

“I think he’s a tremendous coach and I think he’s going to be in the League a long time. He’s had a lot of success at every level he’s been at except the NHL,” Holland told NHL.com.

“He did guide us to a playoff spot in a League when it’s hard to qualify for the playoffs, but I also think as you looked at our team last year, there were lots of decisions to be made and I think the experiences of last year are going to be important for Jeff.”

If the Red Wings place such a great deal of value on Blashill gaining experience, and leaning on the experience of veteran coaches beside him, it would seem then that they are willing to invest a substantial amount of time in him as he continues to grow and establish himself as an NHL coach.

But with such experienced assistant coaches having joined his staff this offseason, it makes you wonder about what could happen if the Red Wings struggle significantly or fail to make the playoffs.

“I think there’s always pressure in this job and there always will be and I welcomed that when I took the job,” Blashill told MLive.com this summer.

“But really, I don’t spend lots of time worrying about what could happen bad. I spend all my time worrying about how we’re going to do things to make sure we win.”

Bouwmeester named to Canada’s World Cup team, replacing the injured Duncan Keith

KANATA, ON - AUGUST 25:  Jay Bouwmeester #3 of Team Canada skates against Team USA during their exhibition game in the World Cup of Hockey on August 25, 2004 at the Corel Centre in Kanata, Canada.  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/WCOH via Getty Images)
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St. Louis Blues veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester has been named to Canada’s 23-man roster for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

He will replace Chicago Blackhawks blue liner Duncan Keith, who is rehabbing a right knee injury.

“As Duncan continues offseason rehabilitation on the right knee injury that he sustained last season, we understand his decision not to participate in next month’s World Cup of Hockey,” Blackhawks team physician, Dr. Michael Terry, said in a statement.

“We believe it is in his best interests to focus on getting stronger and not risk further injury.”

Bouwmeester, a left-handed shot just as Keith is, which maintains the left-right philosophy for defensive pairings, joins his Blues teammate Alex Pietrangelo on the Canadian roster.

The two not only play together in St. Louis, but they were matched together on the blue line for Canada when it won gold at the 2014 Olympics.

The decision is, well, an interesting one and open to plenty of debate, as the Team Canada brass opted to take Bouwmeester over other Canadian blue liners — right-handed shots P.K. Subban and Kris Letang among the names — with far more offensive production from the back end.

 

Former Avs tough guy Bordeleau signs with the Devils … in Cardiff, Wales

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 02:  George Parros #15 of the Montreal Canadiens and Patrick Bordeleau #58 of the Colorado Avalanche engage in a fight in the first period at Pepsi Center on November 2, 2013 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Patrick Bordeleau is on his way to play for the Devils — of the Elite Ice Hockey League in the United Kingdom.

The Cardiff Devils announced that they have agreed to terms on a contract with Bordeleau, who played 129 games in the National Hockey League with the Colorado Avalanche.

In his time with the Avs, from 2013 to 2015, the 30-year-old forward — who stands an imposing six-foot-six-inches tall and 225 pounds — scored eight goals and 16 points with 185 penalty minutes.

As you can see from the clip below, he was known more for fisticuffs than finesse.

That has the club in Cardiff all kinds of excited about this signing.

From the Devils:

Aside from his reputation as an enforcer, the level of skill and ability of Patrick Bordeleau arose the attention of Devils player coach Andrew Lord who is delighted to add him to the roster.

“Patrick Bordeleau brings an awesome dynamic of size, energy and physical play.  He skates well and will add a great presence to our forward unit while also playing quality minutes.  He played multiple seasons in the NHL and his experience and character will be huge for our group.”   

Last month, another former NHL tough guy, Jay Rosehill, signed in the EIHL with the Braehead Clan, which continued a trend that has seen a number of pugilists continue their careers in the UK.

Blues to name Pietrangelo 21st captain in franchise history

St. Louis Blues' Alex Pietrangelo (27) skates against the Chicago Blackhawks' in an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce)
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Shortly after the Blues’ PR department unveiled a “major announcement” scheduled for Thursday, the Post-Dispatch broke news that Alex Pietrangelo will become the team’s new captain.

It’s a big honor for the talented defenseman, who joins the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, Al MacInnis, Chris Pronger, Scott Stevens, Brian Sutter, Bernie Federko and Al Arbour as those that have captained the Blues.

Pietrangelo, 26, was taken fourth overall by St. Louis  in 2008 and has spent his entire professional career within the organization.

A staple of the Team Canada blueline and a two-time NHL 2nd team All-Star, Pietrangelo inherits the captaincy from David Backes, who wore the “C” for five years before signing with Boston in free agency.

Pietrangelo had previously served as one of Backes’ alternates — first earning his “A” in 2013 — along with forward Alex Steen, who’s served as an alternate since 2011. It’s logical to assume Steen will retain his role in the leadership group, but it will be interesting to see who gets the other alternate captaincy.