The New Jersey Devils have started 2017 in the best way possible. If they want to keep it that way, the power play will have to improve.
It’s been a year since the New Jersey Devils have scored a power play goal. Well, not really, but you get the point. Adam Henrique’s goal against the Penguins on December 27th was the last time the Devils scored with the man advantage. Since then the Devils have gone 0 for 21 on power play chances.
In terms of the league the Devils are next to dead last, with only the Red Wings having a worse power play. The Devils have scored 18 times one man up this season, having 136 chances, which is 13.2%. The Devils are also tied for third in terms of short handed goals allowed, with five.
One issue with the power play is too much passing. The Devils are looking for the perfect pass to ensure a goal. Simply not enough pucks are going on net, or are being blocked. Another trap the Devils fall into is having the same two players shoot from the same position. It varies between Mike Cammalleri and Kyle Palmieri.
The Devils will set up in the 1-3-1. Then comes a game of catch until either of the two players set up in the circles is open for a shot. After a second power play in a game, the opposition has caught on. Now, to the credit of the coaches and players, it has worked on a few occasions this season.
A big part of any successful power play is setting up the play. The Devils have had a bad habit of relying on the dump and chase method and it has not worked out. Someone with the skating speed of Miles Wood could help try and change this trend, but he can’t be out there every shift. The Devils simply don’t have the speed to sustain the dump and chase style.
The power play has gone through several long streaks this season without scoring. The longest streak was when they went 0-29 during November before Beau Bennett scored against the Maple Leafs. Two streaks of 20+ attempts without the power play connecting is a reason why the team has a slump at the end of 2016. They are still searching for their first power play goal of 2017.
Far too many times this year, the Devils have gone 0-4 or more on the power play. Going 0-2, 0-3 on the power play in one game is understandable. However, going 0-6 or 0-9 is completely unacceptable. With a team that is, on paper, better offensively then last season, they should be scoring once every four or five power play attempts.
Last season, the Devils finished the season with the 9th best power play in the league. It helped that Kyle Palimeri had a break out season on the PP. With the addition of Taylor Hall, one would assume the power play would have been better. The Devils also traded Lee Stempniak last season, who had a nice season offensively. Some of that was on the power play.
But back then the Devils were sellers. This season, if the improvements keep on coming, they could be considered buyers this. Perhaps a player that could help them on the power play isn’t a crazy thought?