That is a wrap.
After 15 days and 111 video games, the NHL’s 2023 pre-season is within the books. And whereas we by no means wish to learn an excessive amount of into outcomes of exhibition play, the New Jersey Devils deserve a tip of the cap for being the one crew to roll via with an undefeated document.
Choosing up the place they left off final 12 months, Lindy Ruff’s crew went 7-0-0 and outscored their opponents 30-13 alongside the best way.
Whereas bettering by 49 factors within the standings in 2022-23, the Devils have been sturdy in almost each statistical class. They tied for fourth with 3.52 objectives per recreation, have been eighth with 2.71 objectives allowed and have been tied for the league’s fourth-best penalty kill at 82.6 p.c.
New Jersey’s energy play was a bit weaker however nonetheless within the prime half of the league, ranked thirteenth at 21.9 p.c.
After a number of low season roster adjustments, together with the departures of defensemen Damon Severson and Ryan Graves and the addition of Tyler Toffoli up entrance, the Devils have appeared as sharp as ever via pre-season. They surrendered simply two objectives in 22 occasions shorthanded, for a penalty kill charge of 90.9 p.c. And on the ability play, they have been 8-for-21. That is a charge of 38.1 p.c that even exceeds the Edmonton Oilers’ record-setting 32.4 p.c in the course of the 2022-23 common season.
The Devils’ power-play scoring was principally led by who you’d anticipate. Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt and Dawson Mercer had two objectives apiece. Singles got here from Timo Meier and rookie defenseman Simon Nemec, who additionally scored this shorthanded magnificence within the Devils’ 3-0 highway win over the New York Islanders on Friday.
I don’t subscribe to the “can’t have two 20 12 months olds on the identical protection” opinion.
If each Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec should play, they each should play.
Nemec is doing every little thing he can with this stunning objective for the New Jersey Devils.
— Vinnie Parise (@VinnieParise) October 7, 2023
And whereas the Tampa Bay Lightning are in powerful to keep up their standing as an elite squad whereas Andrei Vasilevskiy is on the shelf for the subsequent couple of months, their special-teams play was elite as they skated to a 5-2-0 pre-season document.
Giving up two objectives on 23 shorthanded events over these seven video games, the Lightning completed up at a formidable 91.3 p.c on the penalty kill. At 8-for-22 with the person benefit off the sticks of eight completely different scorers, they slot in just under the Devils at 36.4 p.c on the ability play.
One crew that positioned an enormous emphasis on its penalty kill throughout pre-season was the Vancouver Canucks. The membership has gone from unhealthy to worse whereas shorthanded for the reason that return from the pandemic pause and hopes that it has bottomed out at its 71.6-percent kill charge final season. The one crew on this millennium that was worse was the 2020-21 Devils within the 56-game shortened season, at 71.0 p.c.
Vancouver went out of its option to discover extra gamers with penalty-killing chops in the course of the summer season. Within the pre-season, new acquisitions like Teddy Blueger and Pius Suter delivered.
The Canucks completed out their exhibition schedule on Friday with simply three objectives allowed on 23 occasions shorthanded, for a really respectable kill charge of 87 p.c.
“We’ve bought seven or eight guys that may P.Okay. for us,” coach Rick Tocchet mentioned after Friday’s recreation. “That’s big. I just like the angle and I just like the construction. (Assistant coach) Mike Yeo is doing a pleasant job of educating what we wish.”
Citing the rear — three groups that modified up their teaching staffs this summer season weren’t in a position to get their particular groups to click on throughout pre-season.
Probably the most worrisome might be the New York Rangers, who skated to a 1-5-0 document. The Blueshirts are only one 12 months faraway from their journey to the Japanese Convention closing, and their new coach, Peter Laviolette, has a Cup-winning pedigree and is understood for his tight defensive programs.
New York was shorthanded a league-low 15 occasions throughout pre-season play. However with six objectives allowed whereas shorthanded, the Rangers completed with a worrisome penalty-kill charge of simply 60 p.c.
And after ending seventh on the ability play at 24.1 p.c in 2022-23, New York managed only one pre-season power-play objective, by Adam Fox, in 21 makes an attempt, for a 4.8 p.c success charge that was additionally the league’s worst.
Followers on Broadway have to be hoping that Panarin, Zibanejad, Kreider and firm are ready to show it on when the video games that rely start.
The information is not a lot better in Nashville. With the Florida Panthers, Andrew Brunette did not miss a beat when he took over from Joel Quenneville two years in the past. The Panthers cruised to the Presidents’ Trophy with a 24.4-percent energy play and 79.5-percent success charge on the penalty kill. However even being named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award wasn’t sufficient for Brunette to maintain his job within the Sunshine State.
After a 12 months as an affiliate coach with the Devils, the previous Predators winger is again — this time, behind the bench. And along with his outdated coach Barry Trotz now holding the GM’s reins, the new-look Predators struggled to seek out their footing in pre-season. They skated to a 1-4-1 document, and their particular groups additionally sat close to the underside of the league: 2-for-28 on the ability play for successful charge of seven.1 p.c with objectives from Filip Forsberg and Tommy Novak and a decidedly grim 16-for-24 on the penalty kill, simply 66.7 p.c.
That being mentioned, Juuse Saros was his normal sharp self, posting a .927 save share over three video games. He is the type of back-end anchor which may assist the Predators stabilize as they get extra comfy with their new coach and their massively overhauled lineup.
Lastly, there’s Anaheim. Not a lot is anticipated within the O.C., the place the most important speaking factors in the course of the pre-season have been the hard-line negotiation ways of GM Pat Verbeek with promising Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale. However as Greg Cronin lastly will get his first NHL head teaching gig at age 60, you’ll be able to guess that he has needed to place his greatest foot ahead.
The Geese completed out the pre-season with a decent 4-4-0 document, however they ended on a low word with a 7-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes in Tucson on Saturday. Anaheim additionally had its possibilities with the person benefit however went simply 1-for-9 on the ability play. That dropped the crew’s general document to 4-for-35 via pre-season, or 11.4 p.c.
Shorthanded, the Geese allowed Arizona only one objective on 5 alternatives on Saturday. They completed out exhibition play with eight objectives allowed on 29 possibilities, a profitable kill charge of simply 72.4 p.c.
Like with Nashville, Anaheim has many new faces within the combine this fall and a coach who has not but had the chance to actually work along with his group on a day-to-day foundation. There’s work to be executed, however virtually nowhere to go however up in Southern California.
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