Every year it seems there’s one team that wins in spite of its lineup and underlying statistics.
Last year, that team was Calgary. The year before, Colorado. The year before that, Toronto.
This year? The early candidate is New Jersey. The Devils are 10-6-1 after 17 games. They shut out the Penguins, 4-0, on Saturday.
“I think our work ethic has been there, and it’s been nice to be rewarded in some ways,” forward Travis Zajac told the New York Times. “That’s been a positive for us. Because of that work ethic, we’re in games, and we’re winning games.”
Nobody expected much from the Devils in 2015-16. This was supposed to be a transition season, from the Lou Lamoriello era to the Ray Shero one. If there was an expectation, it was to get in the draft lottery and add a much-needed blue-chip prospect, to go with sixth overall pick in 2015, Pavel Zacha.
And that could still be how it goes. The Devils have been winning games, but they’ve been far from dominant overall. Their special teams have been good. So has their goaltending, particularly starter Cory Schneider, who’s 9-4-1 with a .928 save percentage. Mike Cammalleri has 17 points in 17 games. Kyle Palmieri and Lee Stempniak each have 14 points. In one-goal games, the Devils are 7-1-1. All of which is to say, it may not be sustainable.
At the same time, that win over Pittsburgh was sure impressive.
“This was an important game for everyone,” Schneider told the Associated Press. “It’s great when everyone gets involved. It’s a lot of fun.”
The Devils kick off a three-game road trip Tuesday in Calgary.