Calgary Flames at New Jersey Devils: Zone Exit and Passing Stats

Bruce Bennett

This is a look at the zone exit and passing statistics for the New Jersey Devils' 79th game of the season against the Calgary Flames on April 7th. Read on for the details.

It would happen like this. It had to happen like this. Dominating for most of the game, one defensive breakdown, one goal against, zero goals for. The trio of Jaromir Jagr, Travis Zajac, and Tuomo Ruutu simply, well, dominated in terms of shot-generation. They generated twenty-five shot attempts (SAG), but only eight shots (SG). On the night the New Jersey Devils’ playoff hopes faded to “Countin on a Miracle” Springsteen status, their performance was the perfect example of just who this team has become over the last two seasons: controlling play, getting shot attempts, but losing close games. Let’s get to it.

Passing Stats

Forwards: Jagr attempted twenty-five passes in the offensive zone alone. He completed nineteen of them and generated nine shot attempts, converting two into shots. Ruutu went 10/12 in the offensive zone and generated four shots on ten (!!) attempts. He might be the first player that’s hit double-digit SAG totals for a single game. I’d have to check, but I don’t think it’s happened this season. Zajac went 12/14 in the offensive zone, generating two shots on six attempts. Lots of control, lots of shot attempts being generated, but not many shots. Your 2013-2014 New Jersey Devils.

Damien Brunner had a lively game, going 14/21 passing and generating two shots on three attempts. He could have done better in the final third of the ice with his passing accuracy, but had a jump in his step all night long. Ryan Carter also generated three attempts and one shot and could have (should have?) had a goal if there was a camera underneath the goalie’s legs.

Defensemen: Marek Zidlicky went 10/14 in the offensive zone (28/35 overall) and generated two shots on two attempts. Andy Greene (13/16, 2 SAG, 1 SG) and Peter Harrold (15/15, 3 SAG, 1 SG) were the only other defenseman with multiple shot attempts generated. Harrold actually had a good game around his passing stats.

Once Anton Volchenkov went down with an injury or benching, Eric Gelinas went back to playing defense and didn’t generate any offense (not surprising) and finished 12/15 passing. Jon Merrill was quite busy, second only to Zidlicky in total pass attempts, and finished 25/28 with one shot attempt generated.

Devils_flames_game_79_passing_1

Devils_flames_game_79_passing_2

Passing Data Explained:

Pass: A reasonable and deliberate attempt to get the puck to a teammate which results in 1 of 3 outcomes: 1) Maintaining possession; 2) Allows for the recipient of the pass to make a “hockey move” (dump in, deflection, another pass etc.); 3) A shot attempt. When in doubt, common sense will prevail.

What you see above is a chart illustrating pass completions, pass attempts, and pass percentages for each player in all three zones. A pass that goes across a zone or two will be marked as occurring in the zone it originates from.

Each completed pass that results in a shot taken by a teammate counts as one “shot attempt generated” or “SAG” in the chart below. This is tracked to attempt to determine which teammates are better at generating opportunities to shoot. You’ll also see a “shot generated” or “SG” column to track the highest quality of shot attempts. The last column totals the percentage of shot attempts that result in shots on net.

Zone Exit Stats

Forwards: A 67.6 PE% pretty much says it all—an incredibly efficient night exiting the zone. This may be one of the highest possession exit rates the forwards have achieved this season. Is it a surprise, then, that it would be one of their strongest SAG nights as well? One of the projects for the summer will be to look at PE% and the team’s SAG and Corsi totals to see how much of a correlation, if any, there might be.

Only Tim Sestito was under 50% as just one of his three exit attempts was with possession. Everyone else was solid, except for the two turnovers committed by Brunner and Michael Ryder.

Defensemen: Only three turnovers as the blue line nearly reached 50 PE%, coming in at 48.6%. Gelinas, Volchenkov, and Zidlicky had the turnovers, but three is not bad for this group. It’s quite good actually. Mark Fayne was the only defenseman under 50 PE% as just one of his exit attempts was with possession. Zidlicky and Merrill led the way with ten and eight attempts, respectively.

Devils_flames_game_79_zone_exits

Zone Exits Explained: Any attempt made by a player to advance the puck from their defensive zone. These actions fall into the below categories (as illustrated on the below chart).

Possession Exits:

P) Pass: When a player passes the puck out of the zone and it successfully finds a teammate.

(C) Carry: When a player skates with the puck out of the zone, maintaining possession.

Successful Zone Exits without Possession:

(FP) Failed Pass: When a player passes the puck out of the zone, but it fails to find its target.

(FC) Failed Carry: When a player skates with the puck out of the zone, but loses possession shortly thereafter.

(CH) Chip: When the player lifts the puck out of the zone or throws it off the boards and out.

(X) Other: Any action that results in a successful zone exit not already covered.

Unsuccessful Zone Exit:

(PT) Pass Turnover: When a player fails to clear the zone with a pass and it results in a turnover to the opposition.

(CT) Carry Turnover: When a player fails to skate out of the zone with the puck and loses possession.

(I) Icing: An attempt to clear results in icing the puck.

(T) Turnover: Any action that results in a turnover not already covered.

What reaction do you have to these stats? How do they compare with your viewing of the game?

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