Zone Exits and Passing Stats at the Olympic Break: Forwards

Loktionov. The most underrated Devils forward? - Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

This is a comprehensive look at the zone exit and passing stats for the New Jersey Devils forwards at the 59-game point in the season. It attempts to rank the forwards based on possession and shot-generation data I've collected all season long. Read on for the details.

Season-to-Date Passing and Zone Exit Stats for Devils Forwards

This is a look at the zone exit and passing stats for the Devils Forwards from the start of the season through the Olympic Break. You’ll see several new columns compared to the single-game recaps. There are only a few new stats this time: using the NHL’s Even Strength Time-on-Ice totals, we can identify how frequently a player attempts a pass, creates a shot attempt, and creates a shot. You’ll see that down below and the columns are broken down by Even Strength Minute per Pass (ESM/P), Shot Attempt Generated (ESM/SAG), and Shot Generated (ESM/SG).

All Corsi, Quality of Competition, and Quality of Teammates figures were pulled from ExtraSkater. Time On Ice figures were pulled from NHL.com.

Terms You May See:

Terms

40 game summaries are here and here for your reference. Let’s get to it.

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Dainius Zubrus: Big Z increased his PE% by 2.5% as he continues to be one of the team’s best when it comes to transitioning defense to offense. It now stands at 57.8%, though, like most of the team, Zubrus was guilty of a few more turnovers since the 40-game mark and is now up to just about 1 every other game. His passing hasn’t changed much (up 1% in the NZ, down 1% in the OZ) as it’s stayed around the same rates all season.

The shot attempts that Zubrus generates haven’t been finding the goalie as frequently as others; his S/SAG% has dropped 16%, but he’s still above-average for the forwards (which tells us that his early rate was probably unsustainable). For every 2 SAG Zubrus generates, 1 of them is getting on net, just about. 16% of his passes result in a shot attempt and 6.2% of his passes result in shots, both of which are slightly below average for the forwards.

Zubrus’ CC% has climbed slightly as he’s just about split evenly between iCF and SAG contribution (@ 19% each) for a total CC% of 39%. It’s far lower than his regular line mates, so Zubrus is certainly more dependent on Jagr and Zajac than they are on him. John brought this to light a few weeks ago in his post on Jagr.

By zone, Zubrus has remained consistent when compared to the 40-game mark. Zubrus attempts a pass every 1:03, generates a shot attempt every 6:33, and generates a shot every 17:44. You’ll notice in this article that the SAG and SG time figures are generally much lower than those of the defensemen, which makes sense as the forwards do most work in generating shooting opportunities in the offensive zone. Zubrus’ frequency of ESM/SAG and/or SG can lead us to conclude he’s not a top-line winger and is better served on a 3rd line. I remember he, Bernier, and Alexei Ponikarovsky playing a solid game as a 3rd line; that may be Zubrus’ best role. He’s been serviceable for now alongside Jagr and Zajac, but the team needs Elias or another winger up there.

Travis Zajac: Zajac improved his PE% 2.5% (seems to be a common increment here) and his turnovers remained about the same. Zajac greatly improved his neutral zone passing and it now stands at 84.4%. His defensive zone passing went down 1% and his OZ% had no change.

Zajac is one of the busier forwards in terms of shot-generation. He has a similar S/SAG% as Zubrus—just about 50%, but his CC% is far superior as it stands at 48.5%. The great thing about Zajac is that he’s split quite evenly between how much of the team’s on-ice Corsi is from his own shot attempts and those created by his passing. Zajac is one of only 4 Devils skaters to have at least 10% of their passes result in shots on net for teammates. 20% of his passes result in shot attempts.

By zone, Zajac really cut down on his defensive zone time, almost 3% actually. It didn’t all go towards offensive zone time as that only went up 1%, but having your 1C spend less than a quarter of his pass attempts in the defensive zone is a good sign of winning the territory battle, I would think.

Zajac is one of 3 forwards on the team to generate a shot in under 10:00 of ice time game. He attempts a pass every 0:59, generates a shot attempt every 4:57, and generates a shot every 9:46.

Mike Sislo: In his 7 games with the big club, Sislo had an 84.6 PE%. 22 of his 26 zone exits maintained possession. From purely a possession standpoint, this is why I’m more disappointed in him being sent back when Gionta is still in the lineup. Actually, by any of these metrics, Sislo could have really added to the team’s 4th line.

Sislo’s CC% was a strong 48.9%, which would be higher than Gionta, Bernier, and Carter’s. He was regularly involved as well: Sislo attempted a pass every 0:42, generated a shot attempt every 4:55, and generated a shot every 22:08. Yes, he only played 44:17 in the 7 games he was up here, but, when looking at these stats and his sterling PE%, he really should have stayed up on the 4th line. A familiar mantra you’ll hear me say is rearing its head again: Deboer has installed a great system, but continually picks some of the wrong players for it. The Devils need a Director of Pro Personnel to set the lineups.

By zone, Sislo clearly benefited from his zone starts (70.8% O/DSt%) as his offensive zone pass percentages mirror his zone starts. But, as we see with his exits, when he was in his own end, he certainly could exit with puck.

Jaromir Jagr: Jagr leads the forwards with a 63.2 PE%, just ahead of Loktionov. His turnovers still remain low, though he’s committed a few more in the last 19 games than the first 40. His passing percentages didn’t change much except for a 2.4% increase in his neutral zone passing.

Jagr leads the team in terms of volume of SAG and SG, converting a little less than half of the attempts he generates into shots. He’s taken on more of a shooting role as compared to the 40-game mark where he was more of a playmaker, as Jagr has now taken a third of the team’s shooting attempts when he’s on the ice. He’s maintained his shot-generation contribution, however, and so he’s finally supplanted Elias in leading the team at CC% with 59.3%. Again, that means that of all the shot attempts the Devils take while Jagr is on the ice, 59.3% of them are either a result of him attempting a shot, or passing to someone who then attempts a shot. Amazing how important he is to the Devils offense.

Jagr attempts a pass every 0:47, generates a shot attempt every 4:43, and generates a shot every 10:24. Apart from Mike Sislo and Joe Whitney who had small sample sizes, Jagr attempts the most passes of the forwards based on ice time. He generates shot attempts at the 2nd quickest rate, behind only Elias. As he’s become more of a shooter in the last 19 games, Jagr is only 4th quickest to generate shots on the team.

By zone, Jagr has shifted pass attempts from the defensive and neutral zones to the offensive zone, where he attempts 57.1% of his passes.

Patrik Elias: Elias still isn’t as high as I would have thought (51.9%), but he’s improving each time I do one of these season snapshots. He reduced his turnovers slightly. His completion percentages have dropped a bit as he’s now under 80% in each zone.

Elias converts his SAG to SG at a 58.5% clip, which is excellent, highest among forwards with at least 10 SG. Nearly 11% of Elias passes result in a shot being generated, which is 3rd among Devils forwards. Despite missing several games this season, Elias has generated the most shots from beyond the offensive zone, documenting his playmaking ability to pass teammates into space for a shot. Elias has increased his contribution to his team’s on-ice Corsi figures by shooting more often, similar to Jagr’s jump.

Unfortunately for Elias, he gave way to CC% Crown over the past 19 games. He’s still up there with a 56% CC rate. I think we want Elias shooting the puck more anyways, so if his SAG/CF% drops slightly (1.3% in this case), but his iCF/CF% increases 7%, that’s a trade we’d all make.

Elias attempts a pass every 0:50, generates a shot attempt every 4:35, and generates a shot every 8:35. So, with this data, we can confirm that Elias generates offense at a faster rate than any other skater on the team. Not surprising, but we can identify just how much more frequently it happens now when compared to other skaters.

By zone, Elias remained the same. I’m not surprised since Elias simply produces with whomever he’s skating with at that point in time.

Adam Henrique: Henrique remained at the same 49 PE% rate, slightly below the forward average now. Turnovers stayed the same as well. He’s settled into this range now and I don’t expect it change much going forward. Henrique’s passing hasn’t changed much, a 2% drop in the defensive zone, a 2% increase in the neutral zone, no change in the offensive zone.

Henrique’s S/SAG rate is a bit below some of the other top forwards on the team at 43.8%. Henrique has significantly improved his SG/Pass% rate as now 11.2% of his passes result in a shot being generated, good enough for 2nd on the team. So, though he’s not converting as many of his SAG #s into SG, it doesn’t take him as many passes as other forwards to generate a shot.

Similar to other forwards, Henrique has increased his shooting as a percentage of his team’s on-ice Corsi, as he’s now responsible for 25% of the shot attempts while on the ice. His CC% is now over 50% for the first time all season as Henrique is starting to show signs of a center that can generate significant offense via his passing and his shooting ability. He’s not far off of Zajac (44) and Jagr (42) in terms of shots generated at 39.

Henrique attempts a pass every 1:02, generates a shot attempt every 5:01, and generates a shot every 9:57. He’s 1:22 behind Elias in generating a shot, but he’s only 0:11 off of Zajac’s pace. Could Henrique overtake Zajac as the 1C in terms of offensive production? I don’t think it’s that far off. We’ll see what next season brings, but it’s great that Lou locked up Henrique when he did.

By zone, Henrique reduced his passing in the defensive zone by 2%, a slight amount in the neutral zone, and increased his time in the offensive zone by nearly 3%. That’s a significant amount from just 19 games of data. Henrique’s clearly been pushing play forward in the last 19 than the previous 40, due, in large part one would think, to the Newfoundland line.

Ryane Clowe: Clowe seems to be the designated player to exit the zone recently as he continually leads group in attempts. I say there’s good reason to it as he ranks quite highly at a 58.3 PE%, up 12% from the 40-game mark. He’s averaging a full turnover per game, so that’s not good, but with the amount he’s handling the puck, it’s to be expected. Clowe’s completion percentages have increased in both offensive and defensive zones, and dropped in the neutral (it was always going to since he hadn’t missed a pass at the last summary). He’s one of the more accurate forwards.

Clowe has generated 26 shots in 19 games. He’s just above average for the forward group’s S/SAG conversion rate (42.6%). In terms of Corsi Contribution his iCF/CF% stands at 21.1% and his SAG/CF% is 1% higher. He’s lower than the average mark for forwards by about 4%, but with Henrique picking up his play, it’s not surprising.

Clowe attempts a pass every 0:59, generates a shot attempt every 5:17, and generates a shot every 11:46. His rates seem to be in range for the 2nd line players on the team. You’d like to see him generate shots at a quicker rate (he’s 2:00 behind Zajac, for example), but Clowe’s role seems more about securing possession for his line both in the defensive zone (high number of zone exits) and in the offensive zone along the boards.

By zone, Clowe has actually spent more time in his own end, to the tune of 4% more. That’s odd considering Ryder and Henrique saw significant decreases in their pass attempt percentage in the defensive zone. Although, Clowe does attempt more exits than any other forward, so perhaps he’s the designated forward to retrieve the puck and begin the attack.

Michael Ryder: Ryder has done quite well recently, well enough to have nearly a 3% increase on his season totals at the 40-game mark. He now sits at 51.9% while keeping his turnovers at the same .4/game rate. Ryder’s completion percentages went up a bit in the DZ, down a bit in the NZ, and had a small increase in the OZ.

Ryder’s been much more involved since being paired with Henrique and Clowe, so much so that at the 40 game mark Ryder had attempted 93 shots, but in the last 19, he’s attempted 124. There were some games in that 19 game sample where that line simply dominated, so it’s not all that surprising. He’s more of a shooter than a passer (obviously), but he’s still converting SAG to SG at a 44% rate, not terrible. As a result of his shooting, Ryder accounts for 34.2% of all shot attempts while he’s on the ice. His CC% is 3rd highest on the team at 50.8%, mostly due to his shooting.

Ryder attempts a pass every 1:23, generates a shot attempt every 7:39, and generates a shot every 15:51. You can really see the separation between a shooter like Ryder and a playmaker like Elias in terms of how often they both attempt passes.

By zone, Ryder posted similar changes to Henrique’s: 2% decrease in the DZ, 1% decrease in the NZ, and 3% increase in the OZ. Andrei Loktionov: Loktionov went up to 62.6 PE% as he remains one of the team’s best at moving from defense to offense with possession. Turnovers remain quite low. His passing remains top notch and he actually improved a bit in the last 19 games. Loktionov is second to only Jacob Josefson in terms of accuracy among Devils forwards with at least 100 pass attempts. I guess the press box is where you’d want to keep someone like that. Think about that please: the Devils have their two most accurate passers out of the lineup more often than not.

Loki sits at about average in terms of S/SAG conversion rate (40.7%). Looking at his stats, you can see that Loki generates shot attempts as good as anyone not named Elias or Jagr, but they don’t always turn into shots. I think this part of the stat is partly based on the passer, but also the shooter. Loktionov has had more line mates than I can count, so I think the skill of the shooter affects the chance whether it will become a shot to some degree.

Loki attempts a pass every 1:03, generates a shot attempt every 5:03, and generates a shot every 15:38. Here we can also see that no matter who Loktionov plays with, he’s still effective at generating offense. His 5:03 ESM/SAG mark is behind only Elias, Jagr, and Henrique, yet on a team starved for goals and shots, Deboer can’t find a spot in the lineup for him? Give me a break. Randy Miller can write all the puff pieces he wants about Deboer being loved by his players, the bottom line is he’s making a mess of this lineup.

By zone, Loki has benefitted from high zone starts—63.9 O/DSt%—but he’s made the most of it as nearly 62% of his passes are attempted in the offensive zone.

Steve Bernier: Bernier has fallen off a bit recently. His PE% went from 47.6 to 44.8% and his turnovers increased slightly. His overall success rate took a small dip, so it’s not just possession exits, but exits in general he’s struggling with. His completion percentages, however, did not fall off as they increased in each zone by 1.4% (DZ), 3.1% (NZ), and 2.2% (OZ).

As stated above, Elias (58.5%) leads the team in terms of S/SAG% conversion rate among forwards with at least 10 shots generated. Would you believe me if I said Bernier was 2nd on the team at 50%? Would you also believe me that Bernier has the highest percentage of passes that results in shots? Above I suggested that the shooter’s ability possibly affected Loktionov’s disparity between how frequently he generated a shot attempt and a shot, but Bernier isn’t playing with top 6 talent, is he? So, maybe Bernier just sets up teammates a bit better than Loktionov? Could it be?

Bernier attempts a pass every 1:19, generates a shot attempt every 5:42 and generates a shot every 10:47, only 0:23 behind Jagr. If you put better talent on a line with Bernier, he may rack up some assists.

By zone, Bernier has spent a little less time in the DZ and increased his time in the other zones ever so slightly. Not a big change, but nice to see less time in his own end than more, I suppose.

Damien Brunner: Brunner went up 2.6% as he’s just under that 50% rate. His turnovers stayed about the same. Surprisingly, in the 9 games he played since the 40-game mark, he didn’t chip a puck out of the zone once. That’s usually one of the most common exits, so to go 9 games without doing that is pretty strange. 17 of his 30 exits during that time were with possession. Solid. The forwards overall are getting much better.

Brunner’s completion percentages, aside from a 1.5% bump in the NZ, haven’t changed much. He’s had a start to his shot-generation (remember, he missed most of the first 10 – 15 games I started tracking the stat), and he sits at a 66% S/SAG conversion rate, which would put him 1st among forwards, but it’s a small sample size still.

Brunner is just behind Ryder in terms of owning the on-ice shooting attempts. Brunner attempts 33.8% of the Devils shots while he’s on the ice. His CC% is 44.4%, so even though he’s generating shots, he does so at such a low rate compared to other forwards. He’s a shooter though, so it never will be that high.

Brunner attempts a pass every 1:15, generates a shot attempt every 11:07, and generates a shot every 13:55. Be interesting to see if that 13:55 rises or falls as he gets more games in. Also, without Elias on a line with him, does he become more involved in the passing game, or does he still focus on shooting?

By zone, Brunner has seen a slight increase in the OZ pass attempts, but not much has changed. Jacob Josefson: JJ came back for a week or so, playing in a handful of games. He still found a way to improve on his fantastic possession exit rate as he’s up to 56.9%. He also found a way to lower his turnover rate in those few games. More on him in the summary below. Josefson’s the team’s most accurate passer and sits in the press box. He’s only played in 18 games. 18! Just trade him and let him have a career elsewhere already.

Josefson’s small sample size with regards to shot-generation lands him in the same high percentage as Brunner—66%, but we can’t laud him for it yet. After all, we may never see him again.

Josefson attempts a pass every 1:05 (yes, more frequently than Ryder, Brunner, Gionta, Carter, Bernier, and Boucher), generates a shot attempt every 6:38 (yes, more frequently than all of those forwards plus Zubrus), and generates a shot every 16:55 (small sample size, but still better than Zubrus).

By zone, Josefson spent a little more time in the neutral zone in his return to the Devils, but not much else changed.

Mattias Tedenby: No change as Tedenby’s Devils career is probably over. He attempted a pass every 1:20 and generated a shot attempt every 9:56. Tedenby hasn’t played since I started tracking shots generated.

Reid Boucher: Boucher played 11 more games after the 40-game mark and his PE% dropped 2% and his turnovers rose to .83 a game (.58 was the previous), so about 1 more turnover every 4 games. Boucher’s completion percentages rose in both DZ and NZ by around 3%, but dropped in the OZ slightly.

Offensively, Boucher converted 56.3% of his SAG to SG, though ended on 9 shots generated in total, but it was certainly a solid start from the rookie. He was more a shooter than passer as he attempted 25.1% of the team’s shot attempts while on the ice. He added 16% through his passing for a CC% of 41.2%. A slight drop from the last review, mostly due to lower SAG totals.

Boucher attempted a pass every 1:06, generated a shot attempt every 7:01, and generated a shot every 22:03. By zone, Boucher increased his offensive zone time by about 4% in his last 11 games with the big club.

Stephen Gionta: Gionta dramatically improved his possession exits as they are now at 41.5 PE%, still way behind most forwards, but this is a 15% increase since the 40-game mark. His turnovers increased, though not as much as some others: he’s at 1 turnover every other game now. Solid work on Gionta improving the exits though. Gionta also significantly improved his completion percentages by 11.5% (DZ), 4.7% (NZ), and 7.7% (OZ). Solid improvement all around for Gionta.

Unfortunately, Gionta has one of the lower S/SAG conversion rates among the forwards. It is a smaller sample size (only 6 shots generated) though, so he can improve. Oddly enough, Gionta is more a shooter as he accounts for 32.1% of the team’s shot attempts while on the ice. He’s also one of the few forwards with a CF% under 50%.

Gionta attempts a pass every 1:37, generates a shot attempt every 12:57, and generates a shot every 44:25. Those are not good and they are lowest of all forwards not named Cam Janssen. He’s made significant improvements in the zone exit and passing phase of the game, now he simply needs to keep it up.

By zone, Gionta remained the same in the offensive zone and shifted some of his pass attempts from the defensive zone to the neutral zone. He has the lowest O/DSt% of the forwards (38.3%) so that certainly impacts where he will pass the puck most often. Ryan Carter: Carter went up slightly (0.5%) and now sits at 42.1 PE% for the season. He’s committing an extra turnover every 4 games now. Carter’s completion percentages went up slightly in the DZ, up 8% in the NZ, and down 3% in the OZ.

He’s generated 9 shots since returning to the lineup, sporting a conversion rate of 45%. Like Gionta, Carter attempts a large amount of the team’s on-ice shot attempts (28.5%) and I’m sure they both have Bernier to thank for that. Carter attempts a pass every 1:31, generates a shot attempt every 9:27, and generates a shot every 21:30.

By zone, Carter saw a strong shift in territory as well. A 4% drop in DZ and an equal increase in the OZ. Good stuff from Carter, especially considering his O/DSt% isn’t that high (44.3%).

Cam Janssen and Tim Sestito: No change as they haven’t played since 40-game mark. Well, Janssen suited up for 1 game, but he didn’t do anything. Janssen is technically the best passer on the team, but he’s only attempted 38 passes and none were more than a few feet away. Actually, they were more “pushes” than passes.

By zone, these two didn’t change much. Janssen saw a little less time in the DZ and more in the OZ; Sestito was the opposite.

It’s a lot to digest, I Know, so Here’s a Summary of What it All Means

It might be tough slogging through all of the data and individual player summaries, so this section will expound on what might be most important. In the spirit of the Olympics, I’ll hand out a Gold, Silver, and Bronze to the Devil’s forwards in terms of how, when you consider all of this data, just how valuable they are to the team and why. This is for those that maybe aren’t as interested in the actual data.

Similar to how the defensemen were ranked, each forward would compete in 6 events: Possession Exit %, Defensive Zone Turnovers Per Game, Corsi For %, Shot Attempts Generated/Pass Attempt %, Overall Accuracy, and Corsi Contribution %. Why these events? I kept to those related to possession and shot-attempt generation as those the more commonly accepted and debated stats in the hockey analytics community. I ranked each player based on their totals (the best forward received a “1” for that category and the worst received a “9”, etc.) and then ranked them overall based on who had the lowest total number. This was done to determine who was not the “best” player, but the most efficient and possession-friendly player. Before we get to the results, let’s look at a few of the events themselves.

Jagr and Loktionov went 1-2 in PE%, as they have almost all season. Jacob Josefson finished as the number 1 ranked passer in terms of accuracy among forwards, number 2 in terms of fewest turnovers committed, and 5th in PE%. If that’s not the recipe for a smart, two-way, bottom 6 center, I don’t know what is. He scored lower on the offensive rankings, but he did play with face-punchers for several games, who can barely find their sticks, let alone attempt a shot or pass the puck.

Bernier leads the team in terms of SAG/Pass%, which is him just begging for better line mates.

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Gold: Andrei Loktionov finished in the top 2 of 5 of 6 categories. The only one he didn’t was CC% and he finished 6th. Is he really that bad of a player if he has the best turnover rate, 2nd best PE%, 2nd most accurate passer, 2nd highest CF%, and has the 2nd highest percentage of pass attempts?

Silver: Jaromir Jagr came in 2nd, but it wasn’t that close. He nearly double Loktionov’s rankings (29 – 15), but and really only fell off 1st due to his horrible accuracy. Of course, Jagr attempts so many passes and generates such a large percentage of the offense that it’s almost necessary. He led the team in PE%, CF%, and CC%.

But Who is Deserving of Bronze?: So, we forgive Jagr (and to a lesser extent, Elias) for wasteful passing because they are attempting those risk/reward type plays, right? Well, Zajac is right up there with the two of them in terms of CC%, CF%, and SAG/Pass%, and he’s the 3rd most accurate forward. Zajac was 5 total points behind Jagr.

Elias finished just off the podium at 37 points, 3 points out of Bronze. Henrique and Bernier tied for 5th with 40 points. Josefson and Ryder tied for 7th with 42 points. There was a bit of a drop here to Zubrus (50) and Clowe (51), followed by another drop to Brunner (58). Carter and Boucher were well down the rankings as well.

Mattias Tedenby finished last in 3 events, 3rd last in 2 others. He’s the consensus worst forward, but Gionta nearly nabbed that prize as he finished only 2 points ahead of Tedenby. So, the Captain is the worst of defensemen, and the coach’s pet is the 2nd worst forward across these 6 categories.

Here it is again: Deboer needs someone else to tell him how to set a lineup.

Reviewing the Pass by Zone and Minutes Per Pass Sections

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These are relatively new to you, readers, so I wanted to take some time and discuss them. If you’ve been reading since October, then you know I’m using soccer stats as a template for how I approach passing and shot-generation stats for ice hockey. Soccer tracks a lot of things by the minute as to how frequently a player creates a chance, completes a dribble, wins a tackle, etc. Naturally, I wanted to know how much a player was doing with their ice time.

Dividing a player’s total even strength ice time by their total pass attempts gives us an approximation on how frequently that player has the puck and how involved they are with the play. This also gives us a snapshot of the different in SAG quality among skaters, i.e. if a player is generating a shot attempt every 10 minutes of ice time, but only generates a shot every 60 minutes, chances are those are the best shot attempts to begin with.

This furthers our cause to identify the true shot-generators on a team, not just by volume, but by frequency and quality as well.

The Pass by Zone that I introduced last time has made its way into my single-game recaps if you haven’t noticed. I’ve referenced it and am thinking about posting the pass totals by period in the recap to see how each period unfolded and who controlled more of the possession. It’s taken the viewing even further in terms of identifying just who was spending time in which zone and how well the team was performing. Let me know your thoughts on this and how you might like to see it incorporated along with the other stats. Right now, it’s simply a measure of territorial presence.

I think if I were to look at these statistics and put together a lineup, it would look something like this:

Elias – Zajac – Jagr

Clowe – Henrique – Ryder

Zubrus – Loktionov – Brunner

Sislo – Josefson – Bernier

I’d roll with that for a few games and see how things go. You’ll notice that the top 11 names from the Olympic Rankings are on here plus Mike Sislo. He wasn’t included due to him only playing 7 games, but he would have won in a landslide as he started very strong in terms of efficiency.

The top six speak for themselves. Loki and JJ are the team’s most accurate passers and that would help the bottom six. Sislo, as mentioned above, showed promise early on, not just offensively, but also defensively with his strong zone exit play. Paired with JJ, they would be responsibly defensively and could get forward enough to be a solid 4th line. Bernier would have more skill in those two than he does in Carter and Gionta and the chances he creates might end up going in more often. Stabilize the bottom six and go after a top-tier defenseman at the deadline and I think this team’s scoring woes are gone.

What? Don’t we need a forward at the deadline? Not necessarily. There is very little offense generated from the back end on this team and taking out Salvador/Volchenkov for Larsson/Gelinas isn’t the answer right now, it may be next year, but not in February of 2014. Acquiring a top-4 defenseman with proven offensive abilities might be the more balanced approach to find more scoring. Of course, that’s just as hard to acquire as a top winger anyways, but I see more stability in this group of 12 forwards than I do in the 6 defensemen.

In the Next Review

Throughout the Olympic Break, I’ll be posting examples of pass totals from games involving Devils opponents, i.e. how well did Nashville pass the puck against the Devils on January 31st? How about the Avalanche? Capitals? Oilers? From this, we can get an idea of who controlled the puck more than the other team and look and possible new ways to evaluate how the team is doing. Also, if Corsi is based on which team is attempting more shots than the other, this might lead into another discussion on how much passing stats matter if one controls one of these stat categories more than the other: 1) Offensive Zone Attempts? 2) SAG? 3) SG? 4) Specific SAG/SG by zone? 5) Overall Pass Attempts? 6) Offensive Zone Completion %? There are so many new ways to analyze a single game with this data and that is the next step in this process.

Are there any specific games the Devils played this season you’d like to see the passing stats for the opposing team? Sound off below and I’ll get on it. I hope to get quite a few done over the break. Don’t be shy.

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