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Five observations from New Jersey vs New York:
1. 5v5 offense remains stagnant
New Jersey's offense in that game state was not overly good to begin with. In Taylor Hall's absence, the Devils have reached a new low. Since he went down with an injury, they have averaged 48.76 attempts and 21.66 chances per 60 minutes of 5v5 play. Those totals are absolutely abysmal. Unsurprisingly, a date with the stingy Islanders was not what the doctor ordered to get back on track.
After a strong start to the game, the Devils reverted back to their usual selves. Chances came few and far between and it was very difficult for them to sustain offensive zone pressure throughout.
In ~44 minutes of 5v5 play, they mustered up just 33 attempts and nine 'Grade B' scoring chances. For those doing the math at home, that equates to 45 attempts and 12(!) chances per 60. Even worse than their recent averages, which, again, are really bad.
Suffice to say, creating offense at full-strength is a massive problem right now and it's only going to get worse if the Devils continue selling off pending free agents (like Marcus Johansson).
2. Cory Schneider deserved better
It wasn't a crazy night in terms of volume (NYI had 28 shots). The quality was certainly there for the Islanders, though. They had numerous breakaways, odd-man rushes, open looks in the slot, and Schneider came up big time after time to keep the Devils in the game. It was as good of a performance as you could ask for from a goaltender, especially considering how rocky the last year has been for Schneider. Even members of the Islanders took notice.
And yet, as well as Schneider played, it still wasn't enough to snap his crazy long losing streak. In typical Devils fashion, they just didn't score for him. Schneider is not the guy he once was – clearly – but even when he was at his best, the Devils never gave him much run support and always did their best to squander his efforts. It was more of the same last night. Deja vu.
3. The power play looked better than it was
It wasn't as much of an eye-sore as in recent games. They did a pretty good job of setting up shop in the offensive zone and the puck movement was fine. Still, they weren't able to really break down the Islanders and generate quality looks. That's very evident when looking at the heatmap.
Besides maybe Kyle Palmieri, who is going to score from that distance without a big-time screen or deflection in front? The answer, of course, is nobody.
And another thing: maybe use Blake Coleman on the power play. He is 2nd on the team in goals, chances, and high-danger chances. You'd think he'd be one of the *checks notes* eight regular forwards to play on a power play unit.
4. Jesper Bratt stood out
On a positive note, I was really impressed with Bratt's performance. I think he was the team's best skater vs the Islanders. He was making quick and accurate passes to teammates in the offensive zone. He was effective driving play up ice. Bratt also did a nice job of weaving around defenders to create space for himself to make plays and generate shots. When all was said and done, Bratt recorded an assist, seven shot attempts – including a double post in overtime – and finished with a team-leading +7 on-ice shot attempt differential at 5v5.
5. Kyle Palmieri's 5v5 struggles continued
He is having a rough go right now. He really is. Despite leading Devils forwards in 5v5 ice (15:43), they generated just six attempts and two chances with him out there. Palmieri was not responsible for even one of either. He has finished with a sub 41 Corsi For% in four of his last five games and recorded one 5v5 chance or fewer in nine of his last 12. The guy can shoot the puck but he is not a facilitator, which has become crystal clear with Taylor Hall out of the lineup.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com.
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