Here are the headlines for the New Jersey Devils after 4 games – The Devils are 4-0. Taylor Hall (and Nico Hischier) are still looking for their first goals. The backup goalie (Keith Kincaid) has two shutouts and 4 wins, and leads the NHL in goalie stats. Oh yeah, and Kyle Palmieri (see article from NBC) is among the league leaders in goals with 7.
If, two weeks ago, you predicted any of these occurrences, you get a gold (red) star. Well, we didn’t see much of this coming (although we have Kincaid on our fantasy teams, lol). However, we have been telling anyone who will listen over the years that KP has always been a heck of a player according to our mistake minimization metric (consistently top quartile). We also opined last year that playing Hall with KP instead of Jesper Bratt has meant a symbiotic advance by all measures for both players (as well as Nico Hischier, at least last year).
The additions of other key players since their horrific 2016 campaign (here’s looking at you Vatanen, Johansson, Mueller and Butcher), and the Devils have essentially a new team; its young, exciting, tight, and quick….and is demonstrating an ability to outpace many other teams in the NHL. While we erred mightily on their performance last year, we won’t get fooled again. This team is a tough out.
As for KP, he has always been great at drawing penalties. In essence, he is one of our prototypes….not quite Helm-ian, or Debrusk-esque, but pretty darned good. Heck, he had 23 drawn to 11 taken last year, which resulted in an AB score of almost 4. In the scheme of things, there are a LOT of NHL teams that could sorely use a guy like KP.
We are writing this entry to comment on a comment within the article referenced above from NBC. One of the readers asserted that KP was not an adequate player in ANA. We disagree. He was essentially what he is now, except that a player of his intangible value was not prized by ANA, as much as it was in NJ. Note – ANA has historically not shared our philosophy on mistake minimization, yet somehow they perform admirably. They have consistently been an outlier according to our metric, and frankly, we can’t really explain their success, save for when they had Frederick Andersen. Goaltending can bail out a team that otherwise would be a disaster….Carey Price is a great example of this point.
Digressions aside, we are high on the Devils, as we wrote the other day, and are interested to see how the Devils top line continues to perform as the season progresses. We think that that the fans holing those Palm things in Newark will be pretty happy!