After the New Jersey Devils lost to the Islanders, 3-4 in overtime, I had plenty of thoughts and one question. I wrote a recap to get the thoughts out there, as usual. The one question deserved its own post. Are any of the defensemen on the 2018-19 New Jersey Devils good?
I am confident I am not the only Devils fan to ask this question. I am confident there are fans who had that question before this season even began. This is an organization who had a dominant blueline at its peaks when they were trapping chumps, winning Cups, and making many in the hockey world moan and whine about the Devils. However, those years are well in the past. It was a defensive corps with two Hall of Famers (Stevens, Niedermayer), a lock for the Hall of Very Good (Rafalski), and other solid defenders (White, Driver, Daneyko before he got old, etc.). That level of talent isn’t on the 2018-19 roster. But the game in the National Hockey League has also changed from the late 1990s and early 2000s too. We must ask this question with respect to current times and current defensemen. And so we must at least compare the current group of Devils defensemen with their current peers.
Micro vs. Macro
Before jumping further, there is a larger philosophical question to address. What makes a player good? In the heat of a moment or in the short term of a few games, we would expect a good player to succeed at what they do and not fail miserably cheap nhl jerseys
in the process. For a defenseman, those failures would include coughing up the puck in their own end or not stopping a player from collecting their one rebound in a one-on-one situation. Those are micro situations. Events, if you will. We can agree that a player can have a bad event. And those with particularly good memories will remember specific events over anything else, even good events like scoring a goal, helping the goalie prevent one, creating a breakout, and so forth.
The macro situation looks at multiple games, such as the season so far. A player with several bad events or a lack of good events will show up in a macro view. Such as that when they are on the ice, the team sees an increase in shots or scoring chance against. Or that they are not contributing to offensive plays so the play often is in their end of the rink.
My take is that any defenseman of any quality at any level will have good and bad events. Like any other fan, I am bothered by the bad events and pleased with the good ones. However, if a player is truly good (or bad), then they I want to see a macro view rather than focus on a micro view. So even though one game and a couple of bad plays is driving this post, I need a larger pool of information and see how the Devils defensemen have done this season to really say if they are good or not.
This is a big part of why I use stats the way I do. So, yes, Defenseman X made a bad play one time and I wish he didn’t make it either and I’m glad you remember it, but a one-time error does not undercut an entire season. If he is as bad as you may think, then we’ll see it in the stats.