3 reasons why the Devils are off to their best start ever
Hands in the air if you predicted the New Jersey Devils would be in first place in the Metropolitan Division two days into November.
That's what we thought.
While some pundits expected the club would be much improved thanks to Nico Hischier and a revamped offense, very few thought the Devils would earn 18 out of a possible 22 points to start the campaign.
Looking at how New Jersey climbed atop the Metro to start the second month of the season gives the impression that this group of Devils is much different from versions past - and their success could be sustainable. Here's why.
Scoring by committee
The Devils don't have a single player in the top 40 goal-scorers; Brian Gibbons is their only forward with five goals or more. This would potentially cripple most clubs. However, for John Hynes' men, it's a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
Across the first 11 games of the season, New Jersey features 16 different goal-scorers and has tallied the 11th-most goals in the NHL, a respectable 40. Only the Columbus Blue Jackets have more players with a goal (17).
The Devils may lack the pure, bona fide goal-scorer that most teams long for, but they're getting the job done as a group on a nightly basis.
The mark of any good team is how well it can play on the road. After five away contests to start the campaign, New Jersey is a perfect 5-0-0 and the last remaining undefeated road team in the league.
More impressive than the record is the way the club's been winning away from Prudential Center. The Devils have won their five road contests by a combined score of 22-11, including victories over the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators.
If New Jersey can continue to rack up points on the road, it'll be a very difficult team to deal with.
Consistency in the crease
One of the biggest flaws of last year's Devils was the poor play of their No. 1 goaltender, Cory Schneider. In his worst season since becoming an everyday starter five years ago, he registered a lackluster save percentage (.908) and goals-against average (2.82) to go along with only 20 wins.
Schneider's seemingly turned the page on his poor campaign, however, putting up better numbers this fall while earning back the respect of Devils fans and management.
Across eight starts, Schneider has registered a 6-1-0 record with one shutout and a .921 save percentage. A lot of credit is due to the defense in front of him, and of course he can still play better, but he appears to have his confidence back.
Balanced offensive contributions, a propensity to put up points on the road, and a reinvigorated starting goaltender have the upstart Devils sitting pretty, and potentially set up to stay that way.
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)