A "Relative" Review of the New Jersey Devils Passing Stats: 30 Games In

Elsa

Patrik Elias: when he's on the ice, most of the team's shot attemps go through him. Playing against some of the opposition's top opposition and alongside shuffling linemates, Elias still has the highest Relative Corsi on the team. Quite simply, he's the most important player the Devils have. Let's take a look at how everyone else ranks.

Passing Data Season-to-date

This is a look at all New Jersey Devils skaters passing data from Game 1 until this point in the season. In this article, I’ll take a look at a player’s “Corsi Contribution” and some of the Relative Corsi stats from behindthenet to try and get a bit closer to determining who are the real engines of the team’s offense.

User “Statsguy” suggested tracking SAG by zone and I’ve started doing that, although the sample size is just a few games so I’ll be including those totals in the 40 game summary next month, though you may have seen those already in the individual game recaps.

I mentioned in my last summary that this time around I was going to look at individual shot attempts in addition to shot attempts generated. You’ll see those as SAG and iCF (individual Corsi For) in the charts. When you get down to it, my theory is if all shot attempts were divided equally, each player would attempt 20% of the 5-on-5 shots (100 divided by 5 skaters). So, you’ll easily see which players are more shot-heavy or SAG-heavy in their contribution rate, which adds these totals. For that figure, it’s a little more confusion to arrive at a “good” figure, but the most productive skaters seemed to be over 40%. We’ll see how they tracks as the season wears on.

You’ll notice these reports look different from the individual game reports. For each position group, you’ll see 2 charts: 1) Total passes and accuracy; and 2) Individual SAG and Corsi figures. This was done to ensure the charts weren’t too small when uploaded.

The Team CF and iCF figures were pulled from ExtraSkater. As stated above, the Corsi Relative, Corsi Rel QoC and QoT were pulled from behindthenet.

This summary will look at each defenseman, each forward, and finally the team as a whole.

Terms You May See:

DZ%: Defensive Zone Completion Percentage

NZ%: Neutral Zone Completion Percentage

OZ%: Offensive Zone Completion Percentage

SAG: Shot Attempts Generated

SAG/P%: Percentage of pass attempts that result in shot attempts generated

CF: Total Corsi For events for the team while that player is on the ice

SAG/Team CF%: Percentage of Corsi events that occur as a result of that player’s SAG

iCF: Total Corsi For events for that specific player

iCF/Team CF%: Percentage of Corsi events that occur as a result of that player’s individual shot attempts

CC%: Percentage of Corsi events that occur as a result of that player’s iCF and SAG; a player’s “Corsi Contribution Percentage”

Accuracy: Overall Completion Percentage (total completions/total attempts)

Corsi Relative: A player’s On-Ice Corsi compared to when he’s off the ice

Corsi Relative QoC: The average Corsi Relative of a player’s competition

Corsi Relative QoT: The average Corsi Relative of a player’s teammates

My 20-game summary can be read HERE. Let’s get to it.

Def_passing_30_games_1

Def_passing_30_games_2

Defensemen

Marek Zidlicky: Zidlicky’s passing percentage rose in all 3 zones, most notably the 6% increase in the neutral zone. You’ll see the number of passes Zid’s involved with decreased in the DZ, but increased in the NZ and OZ, suggesting that over the last 10 games, Zidlicky spent more time away from his own end than in the first 20 games. His SAG average dropped slightly from 1.9 to 1.83, and now stands at 55 on the season. That is still tops among defensemen by a wide margin. Zid’s SAG/Pass% dropped a tenth of a %, and his SAG/Team CF% dropped just over 0.5%, so his shot generation remained virtually the same. Improved accuracy and more pass attempts in the neutral and offensive zone is always a good thing, so it appears it was a decent stretch for #2.

Now, Zid’s iCF was 60 for the first 30 games. His SAG was 55. So, we can say that Zidlicky was directly responsible for 115 shot attempts (60 of his own shot attempts and 55 he created by completing passes to others that resulted in a shot attempt). What can that tell us about how important he is when he’s on the ice? Of all the 399 shot attempts the Devils attempted when Zid was on the ice, he was responsible for 15% via his shot, and 13.8% via his passing, for a combined 28.8 CC%. When Zid’s on the ice, nearly 29% of the team’s shot attempts go through him in some way. That is 2nd among defensemen to only Eric Gelinas.

Zidlicky also did this against 3rd highest Corsi Rel QoC among defensemen with 5th highest Corsi Rel QoT. So, one could deduce that Zid is doing well against his competition with inferior line mates, but his Relative Corsi is -5.5, indicating the team does better when he’s off the ice. Zid has the 3rd lowest CF% among defensemen, ahead of only Peter Harrold and Anton Volchenkov. Given that the latter has been paired with Zid recently, it’s no surprise that he doesn’t seem to have the effect some of his numbers would suggest.

Eric Gelinas: Gelinas increased his averages across the board in the last 10 games. He doubled his average attempts in the offensive zone and is above 80% in each zone in terms of accuracy. The reason his average doubled?Gelinas is now 46/54 in the offensive zone on the season after being 13/13 10 games ago. That is a huge increase. His neutral zone totals increased similarly. Needless to say, Gelinas has been very involved with the play in all 3 zones, and has spent considerable more time in the neutral and offensive zones than in his first 11 games.

His SAG increased by 6 to a season total of 14. Now, his SAG/Pass% (3.5) and SAG/Team CF% (4.8) are still low compared to Zidlicky. Where Gelinas makes up for it is in his shot; his iCF is 73, 13 more than Zid and he’s played in 9 fewer games. So, of the 294 shot attempts when Gelinas is on the ice, 24.8% of them are taken by him. Add that to the 4.8% generated by his passing and you arrive at the Devils defensemen with the highest contribution rate of 29.6%.

Gelinas had the highest Relative Corsi among defensemen at 9.5, indicating he’s in full “bombs away” mode lately. No complaints here. His teammates are better than the competition he’s facing, but that’s to be expected; he’s only played a little over 20 games in the NHL. In fact, he’s facing the 2nd lowest QoC and his teammates have been middle of the pack. He’s certainly making the most of his opportunity though, evident by his blue-line-leading 56.9 CF%.

Andy Green: Greene has the next highest CC at 27.3%; similar to Gelinas, over 20% of that came from his own shot attempts. He leads the blue line in attempts at 97, though Gelinas will surely overtake him at the next summary. His SAG increased from 22 to 30, making up 6.5% of his team’s shot attempts when he’s on the ice. He’s a half-point behind Gelinas in terms of CF%, but has done it facing the highest Relative QoC on the team by far. His QoT is the largest difference on the team and he’s only the 2nd defensemen whose QoC is higher than his QoT—Zidlicky being the other. All that being said, Greene stills out ahead and his Relative Corsi is a strong 4.3, 2nd on the team.

Greene saw his DZ and OZ completion percentages improve slightly, while his NZ% dropped 10 %. He’s been far more active in the neutral zone lately, attempting 35 passes in the neutral zone in his last 10 games, compared to 45 for the first 20. His NZ% took a bit of a hard hit, so we’ll see if he can rebound there. Otherwise, his averages stayed right around the same as the last summary.

Jon Merrill: Let’s not take a look at the sometimes-partner of Gelinas. The other rookie defenseman. Merrill has played in 8 games this season, but the last 7 he’s been heavily involved, so I feel okay discussing his play thus far. He’s the most accurate passer on the team for starters: completing over 86% of all 3 zones. He’s also been quite busy in most of the zones, completing better than the position average in the DZ and OZ, and attempting better than the position average in all 3 zones.

Production-wise, Merrill is not exactly Gelinas. He’s generated 5 shot attempts and taken 18, accounting for 23.5% of the 98 shot attempts when he’s on the ice. Still a respectable number, however. Merrill has played with the best QoT by far, and, curiously, has faced the 2nd strongest Relative QoC behind Greene. It remains to be seen how strong the competition will be in the next 10 games for he and Gelinas and whether they continue to play together, but this was a good start to the passing stats for Merrill.

Adam Larsson: The veteran 20-year old Swede experienced noticeable improvement in his play since being paired with Gelinas. He’s only played in 3 games since the last summary, and the numbers are close to the same. This summary for Larsson will be focused more on the SAG and Corsi numbers.

His SAG is 19 for the season thus far and his iCF is 44. Larsson’s responsible for 23.2% of the 272 shot attempts while he’s been on the ice—just behind Merrill. Larsson has faced the easiest Rel QoC and had the 3rd highest Rel QoT with him. His Relative Corsi is 3rd best on the team at 3.9, so he’s having a positive impact. I just think that we won’t get an idea of how he’s truly playing until he comes back from injury and rejoins Gelinas or has a regular partner for a longer period of time. No would deny his play improved alongside Gelinas; I think everyone just wants to see where it can go from there.

Mark Fayne: Fayne played in all 10 games since the last summary and his completion and attempt average rose in every category except for DZ attempts. His accuracy improved quite well, especially in the offensive zone when he’s the leading passer at 92.5%. Fayne improved his SAG total to 12 and his iCF figure is 50. Fayne’s CC% is 24.5, good for 6th on the blue line. Offense is not his game, and he’s competing against the 5th highest Rel QoC, with some strong teammates, but he’s still doing better on the ice than the team when he’s of fit as his Relative Corsi is 3.5. As Jerry wrote extensively HERE on the “Return of the Mark,” Fayne’s brought some stability to the back end.

Bryce Salvador: No change for Bryce, but when he was playing, his CC% was 20.9, the lowest on the team by far. His Relative Corsi was -0.9 and Sal played against the (then) strongest competition with the weakest teammates. Be interesting to see where Deboer puts him when he returns.

Anton Volchenkov: Volchenkov’s averages changed marginally, if at all in the 5 games he’s played since the last summary. His OZ% fell 5 points, and he added 2 SAG to bring his season total to 13. Surprisingly, he accounts for 25.7% of the team’s shot attempts when he’s on the ice. Think about it: Volchenkov has attempted only 18 fewer shots than Zidlicky. Crazy, right? His CF% is only a half-point lower than Zid and he’s been pinned back the worst of any defenseman at -8.2 Rel Corsi. Can’t say I’m surprised there.

Peter Harrold: Harrold’s also played in 5 games since the last summary, and about all that’s changed is his OZ% has dropped 5%. He’s been slightly more active in the neutral zone, but only generated 4 shot attempts in the 5 games from the last summary. Harrold accounts for 26.6% of the shot attempts while on the ice, good enough for 4th on the blue line. He does, unfortunately, have the lowest CF% of the defensemen, and is the only one below 50%. Even though he’s done okay in terms of generating shot attempts, his Relative Corsi is 2nd worst at -6.7. He’s not exactly facing the hardest competition either; in fact, his QoC and QoT are about even.

Fwd_passing_30_games_1

Fwd_passing_30_games_2

Forwards

Mattias Tedenby: Mattias Tedenby played in 3 more games since the last summary and improved 11% in the defensive zone. He had a small increase in the neutral zone and a small decrease in the offensive zone. Tedenby added 2 SAG each game he played in since the 20 game mark. His CC% is 35%, which is towards the lower end among forwards and below the forward average of 39.9%.Tedenby has among the worst Rel Corsi on the team and faces pretty weak competition. His Corsi Relative QoT isn’t great, but it’s stronger than his competition. We know what Tedenby is and I still think he could do okay with actual line mates, not the Energy and Cam-Jam show, his numbers suggest he may even struggle at that point.

Jacob Josefson: Josefson maintained his efficient passing in the neutral and offensive zones and he finally missed on a pass in the defensive zone, dropping his DZ% to 91.4. He only generated 5 shot attempts in his last seven games, much lower than the 12 SAG in his first six games. Josefson’s CC% was only slightly better than Tedenby’s, but Josefson had much weaker line mates and his QoC was stronger. Again, Josefson and Tedenby haven’t lit the world on fire, but I don’t think Jagr’s numbers would look great with Thing 1 and Thing 2 as his line mates.

Dainius Zubrus: Zubrus has been averaging about 23 SAG every 10 games at my last summary. He managed to add 28 in the last 10, so he’s been busy. Zubrus attempted 69 shot attempts himself, good enough to be tied for third among forwards. His DZ and NZ percentages increased a few points, while his OZ% dropped slightly (0.7%). He’s responsible for contributing to 38.1% of the team’s shot attempts while on the ice and he’s doing it against the 2nd highest Rel QoC. Zubrus also has a positive Rel Corsi himself and his Rel QoT confirms he’s playing with top line mates. His 55.0 CF% also confirms what he know about Zubrus: he’s among the most effective Devils forwards.

Reid Boucher: Only 2 games in the books at the 30 game mark, but my guess is he’s here to stay for at least a while. Boucher has the highest Rel QoC in those 2 games and was still a positive possession player to the tune of a 58.8 CF%. He’s been playing on the top two lines in those games, but it’s refreshing to see him hold his own. He’s even managed to generate 2 shot attempts each game. Hopefully more good things to come for Boucher.

Stephen Gionta: Gionta only played in 3 games since the last summary and still found ways to lower his overall completion percentages in all three zones. He added 2 shot attempts in those games. While Gionta has been on the ice, the Devils have attempted 123 shot attempts; he has taken 33 of those and passed to set up 14 others. His CC% is 38.2%, a tenth of a percentage higher than Zubrus. Gionta plays against the 2nd lowest Rel QoC and has weak line mates with him usually, but those are still better than his competition. He has the 2nd lowest Rel Corsi among forwards. His accuracy is also among the worst on the team. If the Devils were healthy, there’s no reason why Gionta should be among the 12 best forwards on the team.

Damien Brunner: In his seven games since the last summary, Brunner improved his DZ% by 5 points and only dropped 1% in the other zones. He added 10 SAG to bring his season total to 28. It’s obvious to everyone that where Brunner should be making his mark is by shooting the puck himself. It’s no surprise then that his iCF 2nd only to Jagr, 83 shot attempts. Of all the shot attempts taken when he’s on the ice, Brunner himself is taken almost a third of them (30.1%). Collectively, he’s responsible for 40.2% of the shot attempts. You’ll notice his SAG/Pass% is a paltry 10.1%, but if he keeps shooting at that rate, eventually they’ll start going in more often. Brunner plays with stronger line mates than competition, but only slightly, and his Rel Corsi is 2.7. Brunner consistently finds his way into the opponent’s end of the ice, evident by his 55.6 CF%.

Adam Henrique: Henrique’s NZ% dropped sharply due to one really bad game, but his DZ% increased 4% and his OZ% dropped 1.2%. He has stayed pretty consistent with his SAG, now up to 62 in 30 games. Henrique’s CC% is 36.9% and he does that against strong competition, but has better line mates than those he faces. Henrique’s Rel Corsi is -6 and his CF%, while above 50%, is towards the lower end of the forwards. Henrique is a key to this team getting secondary scoring and succeeding this season, so it would be nice to see a bit of bounce-back from him, given his favorable on-ice situations.

Michael Ryder: Ryder’s SAG only increased by 13 and now stands at 42 on the season. He had totaled 29 in the first 20 games, so his passing effectiveness has dipped. His completion percentages have increased, but the shot attempts haven’t come as frequently. Rdyer’s iCF was only 63, which is enough for 20.9% of the shot attempts while he’s on the ice. I would have that figure would be higher. Ryder’s CC% is 34.9% and he’s been doing this against stronger competition than teammates and still coming up positive in Rel Corsi. Ryder’s CF% is 53.6, another positive. All said, I’d like to see Ryder shoot more at Brunner’s frequency since Ryder doesn’t offer much more than the Swiss forward in terms of SAG.

Steve Bernier: Bernier stayed pretty consistent in the last 10 games, upping his NZ% by 9 while only his OZ% dropped and that was only by 3%. His SAG increased by 17, again, consistent with his 10 and 20 game splits. His season total is now 54. Bernier’s iCF is at 69, tied with Zubrus and he contributes to 40.3% of the team’s shot attempts while on the ice. Bernier has faced much stronger competition than his on-ice teammates and still has a positive Rel Corsi of 3.2. Considering his 55.6 CF% as well, Bernier’s had a solid start to the season and deserves every minute of ice time he’s earned on the 2nd and 3rd lines. If Clowe ever returns, I’d imagine Bernier gets bumped down to the 4th again, but he plays with competent skaters, he can still do damage to the opposition.

Ryan Carter: Carter still can’t buy a pass in the neutral zone, stuck on 59 NZ% on the season. That’s not good at all. His OZ%, however, is one of the highest totals on the team at 85.3%, and his DZ% is very good at 83.6%. Carter just needs to figure out the middle zone and he’ll be much better. In the last 6 games, Carter more than double his SAG output compared to his first 17 games, now sitting at 26 on the season. I really feel for Carter as he was starting to really come on before his injury. You’ll notice Carter’s CC% stands at 42.7%, mostly due to him taking nearly 27% of the team’s shot attempts when he’s on the ice. Unlike Bernier, Carter’s Rel Corsi stands at -6.7, which is to be expected from a 4th liner, and also since he’s playing against stronger competition than that of his on-ice teammates. Once healthy though, I think a 4th line of Carter-Josefson-Bernier would be a massive upgrade over the mythic CBGB line.

Travis Zajac: Zajac’s really come on recently in terms of SAG. In his first 18 games, he generated 45 attempts, or 2.5 a game. In his last ten, he’s generated 35, a full shot attempt per game more. DZ and OZ percentages remained about the same and he improved his NZ% by 6%. Zajac’s attempted 60 shots himself and is clearly more of a passer on his line with Zubrus and Jagr, evident by the higher percentage of SAG than iCF when he’s on the ice. Collectively, he’s contributed to 39.1% of the shot attempts. Zajac Rel QoC is one hundredth of a point behind Jagr and 2 behind Zubrus, which probably accounts for the few games where Deboer changed up a bit of the lines recently. His Rel Corsi is 7.3 and has a 56.0 CF% thus far. Compared to season’s past, I really like the way Zajac has been playing and if he, Zubrus, and Jagr keep it up, I don’t doubt that the goals with come.

Andrei Loktionov: Loktionov remains one of the better passers on the team and continued his solid SAG production as he’s now up to 69 on the season in 28 games. Over the last 9 games, Loki missed 4 passes in the defensive zone, 1 in the neutral zone, and 14 in the offensive zone. That comes to 19 total missed plays in 9 games, or about 2 per game. Remarkable. He’s been quite productive on his own shooting, with 56 shot attempts. His total contribution is 42.8% and he’s done this with about the same level of QoC and QoT, yielding a 5.4 Rel Corsi and 56.8 CF%. Put him between useful skaters, and you’ll see chances being created. Putting him between Sestito and Janssen…well, there’s really no point in him being on the ice, but that’s a discussion for another day. In fact, I think icing a 4th that included three snowmen might be more effective than putting one of your most effective passers between those two. Come to think of it, of the forwards with the highest overall accuracy, one rarely plays with players of any skill (Josefson), the other gets shuffled around the lineup (Loki), and the other’s a figment of our imagination (Clowe).

Patrik Elias: Patty’s percentages have increased across the board since he’s back to playing regularly now. He’s added 31 SAG in his last 10 games compared to the 35 he produced in his first 12, so he’s at least consistent in that department. Elias’ iCF is 51 and his SAG/CF% is the highest among forwards at 26.5%. His CC% is the highest on the team at 47%. What that simply means is that nearly half of the shot attempts that the Devils take when Elias is on the ice, he’s either setting up someone else to shoot, or shooting the puck himself. He’s playing against much stronger Rel QoC than Rel QoT and he still produces a (excluding Boucher’s 2 games) team best Rel Corsi of 10.8. If Elias can lead the team to reliable 2nd line production, it’ll be what this team desperately needs. Elias also has the one of the highest CF% rates on the team at 57.6%. Looking at these numbers, it’s not too difficult to conclude Elias as anything other than the most productive forward on the Devils.

Jaromir Jagr: Jagr’s passing percentages are still not great, but he’s attempting more passes than any other forward. We’ll see how percentages trend for everyone else when their attempts continue to climb. I still think he can be a bit more careful with the puck. His SAG increased to 86 the season now, highest on the team. His iCF is 86 as well, so he’s been perfectly balanced in his own production versus generating shot attempts for his line mates. He and Elias are the only two skaters whose iCF/Team CF and SAG/Team CF rates are above 20%. His total CC% is 45.9%, just behind Elias. As we all know, Jagr’s doing this against some of the opposition’s best players and with strong line mates. His CF% is 55.5% and Jagr’s Rel Corsi stands at 4.8. It’s just a question of how long he can hold up.

Ryane Clowe: Nothing new for Clowe. Although, at least we can take a look at his first six games and see how his contribution broke down. When on the ice, he was almost equal in terms of iCF (11) and SAG (12), for a CC% of 33.8%. His QoC and QoT are about even, but his Rel Corsi is a ghastly -26.8 and his CF% is 43.9%. Early on, Clowe was not exactly contributing. Let’s hope that changes once he returns.

Cam Janssen/Thing 1: I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry considering that Janssen has played in half of the Devils first 30 games. In those 15 games he’s attempted 22 passes, completing 18 of them, so he’s not entirely incompetent. He’s generated 2 shot attempts and taken 7. Janssen’s contributed to 17% of the team’s shot attempts, which gives you an idea of just how few the team generates when he’s on the ice (53). He plays against weak opposition, plays (now) mostly with Tim Sestito as his fellow winger and his Rel Corsi is -4.9. But he does have a 52 CF%. So, there’s that. Tim Sestito/Thing 2: Sestito’s played in 3 games at the 30 game mark, and is about the same as Janssen. He’s taken 8 shot attempts in those 3 games and has a few surprises in that small sample size: His Rel QoC is significantly higher than his Rel QoT, yet his Rel Corsi and CF% are both good numbers. Is Sestito really not as terrible as Janssen? Doubtful, but we’ll see how it goes. You know Deboer’s going to keep them in their record. Sigh.

Team Review

This time around, I decided to include some graphs so to be a little easier on the eyes. I’ve put together one graph for each position group to show where each individual defenseman or forward compares against the team overall team accuracy. I’ve also included the chart with the raw data underneath as some of the lines get a little close for the forwards.

Def_accuracy_30_games

Def_accuracy

The blue line is the team accuracy across all three zones. The green line, purple, and red lines show the peaks and valleys of the individual defensemen across the defensive, neutral, and offensive zones. It will be the same for the forwards.

It’s from the same data as above, but easier to notice how they compare against one another in this format. Fayne’s OZ% really stands out against supposed “Offensive Defenseman” Zidlicky. Salvador’s DZ% is really cause for concern. Sound off below on what other information you’d like to see charted. Let’s move on to the forwards.

Fwd_accuracy_30_games

Fwd_accuracy

Tim Sestito had a 0 DZ%, so that’s why it goes off the graph. It was more readable this way rather than have the percentage extend to 0%. You’ll see Loktionov and Josefson are the only forwards either at or above the team average in all three zones. Bernier and Tedenby are very close to all three being at that mark, only off a few points.

Feedback and criticism are encouraged! What are your thoughts on these passing stats? Do you think it’s a viable exercise in tracking and reporting them? What are some questions you have about them? Is this presented easily enough to process? I know it’s a lot thrown at you, especially if this is new, so let me know if I need to rearrange, reword, or redo anything.

In the Next Review

What should be a focus for next time? I was thinking about some type of point ratio to iCF, SAG, and/or Corsi Contribution, but I’m not sure about that yet. Next time we will have 13 games of data to track SAG by zone, so that could be interesting. What do you all think? What’s missing that you want to see?

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