Devils’ Jesper Bratt Deserves More Ice Time

Jesper Bratt only recorded 15:57 time on ice (TOI) in the New Jersey Devils’ 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. Only five New Jersey forwards had less ice time than the Devils’ 2020-21 scoring leader, but he still managed to record two assists and was the only Devils’ player to have a multi-point game. If he didn’t prove it last year after his 73-point season, he certainly showed on Thursday why he needs more playing time if New Jersey hopes to push for the playoffs.

Bratt Dominating Advanced Metrics

The Devils out-attempted the Flyers 30-4 when Bratt was on the ice, which equates to an 88.24 Corsi percentage (CF%) for the 24-year-old Swede. A CF% over 50 percent signifies that a team created more chances than it gave up when a specific player was on the ice, so having a percentage as high as his in Game 1 is excellent. He also had the highest shot attempts (iCF) with 12.

Bratt’s 86.77 expected goals (xGF%) was also the best on the Devils, which is similar to CF% in that any percentage over 50 percent signifies one team is expected to out-score the opponent when that specific player is on the ice. The former sixth-round pick recorded a team-high 93.75 scoring chances percentage (SCF%,) which compares scoring chances for when a player is on the ice with scoring chances against.

Related: Devils Need Jesper Bratt To Take A Big Leap Forward

Since most of these stats are delivered in percentages, it shows that not only did Bratt dominate in creating offense, but he also dominated in preventing the Flyers from creating their own offensive scoring chances.

“I didn’t check his ice time, how much did he get?” head coach Lindy Ruff asked. ‘I think it was sixteen minutes.’ “That’s not enough ice time?”

Ruff has a history of reducing Bratt’s ice time for inconsistency and poor defensive play but Bratt excelled in all areas of the game Thursday and still had his ice time mismanaged.

Devils’ Inability To Penetrate Middle Of Ice

The Devils recorded 37 shots on goal against the Flyers but only 12 of those shots were from inside the dots; the Devils could not create quality scoring chances from the center of the ice. The Flyers also blocked 28 shots to the Devils’ nine and out-hit the Devils 28-18, which contributed to the Devils’ lack of access to good ice.

New Jersey would have had a much greater chance of generating scoring chances with Bratt on the ice more, as 52 percent of his goals in 2021-22 came from the area right outside the crease, exactly where the Devils couldn’t get to in their season opener. Bratt is quick, nifty, and not afraid to go to the net despite his small stature.

A Visibly Underwhelming Power Play

The Devils’ power play finished 1-for-3 Thursday, with Alexander Holtz scoring the lone goal on the man advantage. Although 33.3 percent is a good benchmark for New Jersey to strive for, the power-play unit did not look to be much improved from last season. I understand that all goals count the same and not to take anything away from Holtz, but Flyers’ goalie Carter Hart should have saved the shot, which would have set the Devils’ power play at 0-for-3 on the night.

Related: Devils’ Power Play Struggles Are Nothing New

Bratt was deployed on the Devils’ second power-play unit where he recorded 1:49 TOI, which was the second-fewest of all players who saw power-play time. This is especially surprising since Bratt led all New Jersey players in power-play TOI and power-play points last season.

Bratt was one of the only bright spots on the Devils’ power play that was ranked fifth worst last year, but the opportunities were not consistently provided in New Jersey’s season opener Thursday.

There is no reason that Bratt shouldn’t be amongst the Devils’ leaders in TOI based on his performance last season and in this season’s first game against the Flyers. If New Jersey hopes to take a leap in this year’s standings, its coaching staff needs to find ways to get Bratt on the ice much more often than they did Thursday.

Advanced stats from Natural Stat Trick

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