Throughout the offseason, I’ll continue to discuss the good, bad and ugly of the Devils’ 2009 – 2010 season. While I’ve already previewed some good, including the overall season and the team’s performance against the Atlantic Division. In this post, I’ll look at the bad, possibly even the ugly, in talking about the Devils' powerplay.
The Devils powerplay finished 18.7%, good for 11th overall in the league. While that number looks successful, a deeper look at the numbers shows a dull picture. The team tied for 21st in the league in powerplay goals (51) and sat alone in 21st with powerplay assists. While Zach Parise tallied nine man-advantage goals, no one else really stood out. Niclas Bergfors, who was traded midseason, ranked second on the team with eight powerplay goals. Brian Rolston netted seven goals, but guys like Patrik Elias (11 total powerplay points) and Ilya Kovalchuk (two goals) couldn’t produce with the extra man.
When the Devils reached the postseason, the situation became dire. The team went 4-for-32 during the playoffs (12.5%), and that ranking reflects the team’s powerplay output (12th in both powerplay goals and assists). As we saw, the Devils allowed each opportunity to slip by, not making the Flyers pay for their penalties. Rolston scored two goals in game three, and that accounted for half – yes, half – of the Devils’ powerplay goals in the series. Clearly, the powerplay’s futility added to the Devils’ inability to beat the Flyers.
Throughout the season, the Devils’ powerplay operated below an efficient level. In the playoffs, it even became their Achilles heel. The Devils thoroughly struggled throughout the season, including the months of February and March, when the team went 9-for-67 (13.4%). Even the addition of Kovalchuk couldn’t spur the powerplay. The team clicked on 19.02% of their powerplay opportunities before Kovalchuk, but dropped to 16.53% after acquiring the left-winger.*
*To be fair, the team slumped when Kovalchuk joined them. He wasn’t the main reason for the powerplay not succeeding. But it didn’t work as well in the 121 opportunities since his acquisition.
All of these numbers speak for themselves. At first glance, the Devils’ powerplay looked solid. But, in actuality, the team struggled the entire season, even after the addition of Kovalchuk. The great numbers on the powerplay were dictated by the 2009, when the Devils 30-for-144 (20.8%). But as the team slumped in 2010, the powerplay slumped with it.
So the Devils are now faced with a problem. How do they fix their problem with the man advantage. You can read my solutions right after the jump.