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On Zacha's streakiness, Coleman's strong play, and Hischier without Hall

January 11, 2019, 11:55 AM ET [28 Comments]
Todd Cordell
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1) One of the things that makes Pavel Zacha such a frustrating player to watch is his inconsistencies. Nobody on the roster goes through the highs and lows that he does and the last 14 games are a perfect example of that.

In the first half of the segment, he looked fantastic. The Devils dominated territorially with Zacha on the ice – no player owned a higher Corsi For% – and he was piling up the chances. Zacha looked to be making legitimate progress and you could begin to understand why the Devils drafted him where they did even if, like myself, you didn't agree with the decision.

Then, suddenly, everything changed. Zacha's possession numbers tanked, as did his chance numbers. It's not an exaggeration to say the only time you'd notice him was while killing penalties. He made absolutely no positive contributions at 5v5.

At this point, stretches like this are to be expected with Zacha. Every year, he strings together a couple excellent weeks of hockey that suck you back in thinking there's hope he'll pan out. Then he follows it up with some of the worst hockey imaginable. It's just who he is.

2) At 5v5, Blake Coleman ranks 3rd on the Devils in shot attempts/60, 2nd in scoring chances/60, and 2nd in high-danger chances/60. He's been one of the most dangerous offensive players on the team all season long. Perhaps *the* most dangerous in the absence of Taylor Hall. And yet he's played fewer than five minutes on the power play this year. I think he deserves a shot, especially with how stale its been of late. I mean, it can't hurt to change things up when the likes of Travis Zajac, Brian Boyle, and Zacha are featured on the top unit. What is there to lose?

3) I've seen people knocking Nico Hischier for his offensive play without Taylor Hall by his side. I don't think it's warranted. At all. Over the last eight games, Hischier is averaging 2.19 points/60 and 9.3 chances/60 at 5v5. His yearly averages in that game state are 2.06 points/60 and 8.23 chances/60. In other words, his offensive game hasn't slipped at all. He's actually been a little more dangerous while shouldering more of the responsibility in terms of facilitating the offense. The Devils have a ton of problems with Hall out of the lineup. Hischier's play isn't one of them.

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