Where and How Zach Parise Scored His Goals for the New Jersey Devils: Part 2

No word on whether Zach Parise took any questions about how awesome he is at close range and reacting to pucks as opposed to just firing them in like a sniper. (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images for the New Jersey Devils)

Back on Valentine's Day, the NHL went on it's Winter Olympic break and the New Jersey Devils went into the break with a really sad, hard-to-watch whimper.  Based on a suggestion an associate of mine made back in February, I took the time to stop dwelling on the Devils' poor performances to examine where and how Zach Parise has scored his goals so far in 2009-10.  I discovered that the majority of his goals came when Parise was in the slot or around the crease; and off reactionary plays, such as shots off rebounds, loose pucks, and deflections.   At a minimum, it justified what commentators, analysts, and fans have been saying about Parise for seasons: he truly has a nose for the net.

Today, I'd like to follow up on that post by looking at the 11 goals - 10 in the regular season, 1 in the playoffs - that Parise scored for the New Jersey Devils.  Just as in that post, I'm taking a casual look as to where he was on the ice when he scored his goals, noting anything special about how he scored (e.g. off a rebound, off a loose puck, a deflection), and providing links to the NHL.com video of each goal for your review and enjoyment.   Given that I've begun a project where I'm looking at goals allowed by the Devils, it's nice to focus on times where the Devils lit the lamp themselves.

So feel free to get excited about talking about some goals.  High five someone.  Consider a chest bump, even.  Or just continue after the jump to see links to the goals and what I've found out about them.

 

The 11 Goals Zach Parise Scored for NJ After the Olympics

Date Goal # About where was Parise? Anything of note? Video Link
3/5/2010 29 At crease One-timer Link to Goal
3/5/2010 30 At crease Off rebound Link to Goal
3/10/2010 31 At crease Off rebound Link to Goal
3/15/2010 32 In slot Off rebound Link to Goal
3/17/2010 33 At crease Shot off loose puck Link to Goal
3/23/2010 34 In slot Off rebound Link to Goal
3/23/2010 35 At crease Posterized Mason Link to Goal
4/3/2010 36 Behind goal line Shot off loose puck Link to Goal
4/6/2010 37 At crease Deflection Link to Goal
4/10/2010 38 At crease Off rebound Link to Goal
4/16/2010 P1 In slot Partial breakaway, SHG Link to Goal

 

Note: I defined "at crease" as Parise being right in front of the crease and "in slot" as Parise being further in that traditional "box" between the hash-marks a little bit ahead of the top of the crease.   Feel free to disagree with me or demand to see actual shot distances, but the larger point of the results remain the same.

Parise was around the net or in the slot when he scored for nearly every goal. The sole exception was goal #36 where he ended up behind the goal line, right at the side of the net, jamming a puck among traffic that bounced in the net.  Basically, all 11 goals were really at close range for Parise.  Further evidence that he's a nightmare down low for opponents.  Here's a quick breakdown of all 11 goals:

Parise's location for goal # of Goals Percentage
Parise in the slot 3 27.27%
Parise at/around the crease 7 63.64%
Parise not in slot or crease 1 9.09%
Special note about the goal # of Goals Percentage
Off rebound 5 45.45%
One-timer 1 9.09%
Shot off loose puck 2 18.18%
Breakway goal 0 0.00%
Off d-man's skate in front 0 0.00%
Deflection 1 9.09%
Re-direction 0 0.00%
Swept in by goalie's stick 0 0.00%
Nothing of special note 2 18.18%

 

What's really striking about the breakdown was that 82% of all of the goals Parise scored after the Olympics came off reactionary plays like knocking in a rebound or pounding on a loose puck.  The only exceptions were goal #35, where Parise dropped a highlight move on Chris Steve Mason right in front; and It's a further testament to Parise's seemingly innate talent of finding the puck among chaos and making the right decision.

Here are some other interesting findings that I learned while doing this: The Devils happened to enjoy great success when Parise scored.   After the Olympics, the Devils were 7-1-0 when Parise scored with the only loss coming against the Calgary Flames on March 5.  Of these goals, two were the eventual game winning goals: goal #32 (3-2 win over Boston) and goal #38 (7-1 pasting of the Islanders).  The lone playoff goal (P1) that Parise scored was the first goal scored in the Devils' sole playoff win this spring and the only shorthanded goal he scored after the Olympic break.  Speaking of special teams, Parise scored 3 power play goals (Goals #30, 31, and 34) and no empty net goals among these 11.

Lastly, Parise's goals per game average rose from 0.459 before the Olympics to 0.476 afterwards.  That said, he did have two games where he scored twice, so he really only scored in 8 out of 21 post-break games.   Quibbling about his production rates aside, where and how Parise scored his goals didn't really change after the Olympics. He kept on striking in close and often out of reaction.

The Where and How of Parise's Goals for the Whole 2009-10 Season

That's all well and good, but let's add these 11 goals to the 28 he scored before the Olympics (note: the linked post also has links to those goals as well).

Parise's location for goal # of Goals Percentage
Parise in the slot 13 33.33%
Parise at/around the crease 18 46.15%
Parise not in slot or crease 8 20.51%
Special note about the goal # of Goals Percentage
Off rebound 10 25.64%
One-timer 5 12.82%
Shot off loose puck 5 12.82%
Breakway goal 5 12.82%
Off d-man's skate in front 2 5.13%
Deflection 2 5.13%
Re-direction 3 7.69%
Swept in by goalie's stick 1 2.56%
Nothing of special note 6 15.38%

 

The where is rather straight forward: Parise scored the vast majority of his goals in 2009-10 for New Jersey, 31 out of 39 or 79.49%, either in the slot or at close range around the crease.  This shouldn't be so surprising.  The same conclusion came in the last post, and Gabe Desjardens proved that a majority of goals scored in the NHL happen in this range in this Puck Prospectus article.  At a minimum, the 11 goals reviewed here are further evidence that Parise is a nightmare for opponent's down low.

What's amazing is that Parise isn't a big player at 5'11" and 190 pounds, nor is he just standing in front like Brian Gionta did a few seasons ago.  Other teams know he's lethal at close range and yet, that's where he succeeds. He's done it in a variety of ways, just look at the 11 goals reviewed for evidence. Sometimes, Parise does position himself in front of the goaltender and just beats his defender with the right decision to react.  Goals #33 and #38 are great examples of this.  Other times, Parise is actually a trailing player where the action is and just drives to the net and discovers the puck where he's going for a great scoring chance.  Goal #31 is a fine example of this phenomenon.  In total, this falls in line with Parise's talents and skills. He's very quick and agile enough to keep swarming down low or just to react to an on-going play.  He's tenacious enough to battle for pucks when necessary.  And he's not at all a bad stickhandler or shooter, as evidenced by goals #29, 35, and P1. 

A common demand for a defenseman is to be able to clear the crease.  With that in mind, Parise must give opposing coaches headaches when trying to gameplan for him.  How do you clear out Parise?  He may not even be there, as he can dart in and strike quickly on a loose puck.  He can turn a defender in front. And yet he can be elusive enough to be found open at the worst possible place.  You'd almost have to fence off the entire slot and the crease area to stop Parise and even then he may just create a gaping hole with it.

Moving on to "how:" 15 out of 39, or 38.46% came off either rebounds or loose pucks.  I suppose other teams really should clean up any messes created by other shots.  When you consider all reactionary goals - rebounds, loose pucks, one-timers, deflections, and re-directions - they represent 25 out of 39 (64.10%) of all of Parise's goals. Not all of them are pretty, but a "garbage goal" is more desirable than a glorious miss or stop by the opposing goalie. It's fair to say that while Parise isn't a sniper, he definitely has an innate goalscoring ability when you consider how he scored these goals.

Just as I said back in February, if Zach Parise works on his shooting range, then the rest of the league should be worried, very worried.  It would be another tool among his dynamic array of talents.  It would force defenders to worry about him outside of the slot and crease areas, leaving others to get in close for any rebounds.  Most of all, it wouldn't take away from his other talents, allowing him to be used in a greater variety on offense.  

If Zach Parise doesn't get any better, then that's OK.  I think Devils fans all around the world would be just fine with creating over 300 shots and putting in around 40 goals for another season.  I'd expect most of those to be in the same locations where he scored his 39 goals in a New Jersey Devils uniform last season.  He's a special player, and it's easily seen from where and how he scores goals for the Devils in addition to just that he scores loads of goals at all.

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.  Did you appreciate looking at Parise's goals from this past season?  Did it improve your opinion of Parise, or really just justify what you may already feel about him?  What else do you think Parise can improve on with regard to goalscoring?  What would improve this analysis?  Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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