To borrow an awfully cliched and paraphrased quote from the media ether, “Adam Oates isn’t walking through that door.” When Oates left Jersey this past summer to become the head coach of the Capitals, he took the Devils’ power play with him. So the Devils went out and got Matt Shaw from the Sharks, who happened to have the No. 2 overall power play last year. So how will things differ this season? Pete DeBoer explains:
“Matt’s coming from San Jose, which is a version of what the Detroit Red Wings do because of (Sharks head coach) Todd McLellan and Mike Babcock having been together at one point,” DeBoer said.
After working the power play a different way under Oates the last two seasons and having only sporadic success – the Devils ended up ranked 15th in the NHL at 17.2 percent last season after getting off to a terrible start – DeBoer anticipates it might take some time for the players to adjust.
“We’re asking guys to change their mindset, a lot like when I came in last year and implemented some of the systems I did,” DeBoer said. “It takes a while to get up and running.”
When asked to summarize what the differences are, DeBoer replied, “Probably in the simplest form, this is a shooting power play. It’s about generating shots more than clean looks at the net.”
Corey GriffinWith a team that looks like it will struggle to score even strength, the man advantage will be huge for the Devils this season. However, patience will be key. Fans tend to get frustrated when the team goes five, six, seven or eight power plays without scoring, but that very well could be the case early on this season. Also, with very little practice time, there won’t be a ton of on-ice instruction. The team will have to learn by doing. The good news is that a shoot-first power play should help the team shake the cobwebs off. With a team firing every chance they get, it’ll be easier for them to get goals off deflections and off scrums in front, which could help jump start the team on nights when they’re maybe playing their third game in five nights. Keep an eye on not how many goals the Devils are scoring, but how many times in a given power play they’re attacking the net and putting pressure on the opposing team. Even if shots are getting blocked, that’s still getting players out of position and setting up possible scoring opportunities for guys on the half boards down.