NHL: Why Scott Stevens and Matt Shaw Will Improve the New Jersey Devils
Stevens, the three-time Stanley Cup winner and former captain of the Devils, will return to the bench after serving as a part-time assistant under Jacques Lemaire during the 2009-2010 season. Shaw will join the team after serving the last three seasons as an assistant for the San Jose Sharks.
While former coaches Adam Oates and Larry Robinson helped guide the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final last season, the additions of Stevens and Shaw could potentially make the team better then last year.
According to NHL.com, Anton Volchenkov led the team in hits with 177 last season, but that ranked him just 44th in the NHL. Behind Volchenkov were forwards Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson, and the only other defenseman with more then 100 hits was Bryce Salvador.
Larry Robinson, who was considered to be one of the better assistants in the NHL, leaves the Devils after turning a no-name defense into one of the best performing units in the postseason. However, Scott Stevens should bring a tougher defensive scheme to New Jersey while maintaining a scoring balance that made him a +393 plus-minus during his 22-year career.
As an assistant with San Jose last year, Matt Shaw led the Sharks to the No. 2 ranked power play in the NHL with a 21.1 percent success rate. Shaw is expected to improve a power-play unit that ranked 14th in the league last season (17.2 percent), and a team that has not recorded a 20 percent success rate since the 1999-2000 season.
Although Adam Oates was well liked by the players, fans grew disgruntled with his lack of change on the power play. Oates actually got worse in his second year with the team in 2010-2011 (down 14 percent from 18 percent), and the Devils never ranked in the league's top 10 in his three years with the organization.
Shaw and Stevens should also blend well together on the same stuff due to their past experiences in coaching. Both Stevens and Shaw gained experience in the NHL while coaching under former Devils coach Jacques Lemaire at different points in their career; and Shaw coached with fellow assistant coach Dave Barr for three seasons in the AHL.
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