New Jersey Devils at New York Islanders: Zone Exits and Passing Stats

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This is a look at the zone exit and passing statistics for the New Jersey Devils' 74th game of the season against the New York Islanders on March 29th. Read on for the details.

In yet another game that would sentence the New Jersey Devils to death by shootout, the matchup with the New York Islanders was, in many aspects, a microcosm of their season. Lots of chances created, very few going in the net, and a forgettable goal being scored against them. This team has been spinning its wheels for the better part of their last 100+ games with the same story unfolding more often than not. Against the Isles, it was more of the same.

There is something about the Isles that whenever the Devils play them, it’s a much higher-event game in terms of passes and shot-generation. The Devils attempted 347 passes against the Isles, around 100 or so more than their season average. Something about the way they play lends itself to the Devils dominating possession (60% of the forwards’ passes were attempted in the Islanders offensive zone). Let’s get to it.

Passing Stats

Forwards: Adam Henrique nearly had a standout performance; he still did in many ways, but it could have been better. Henrique completed each of his sixteen passes, generated six shot attempts (SAG), but failed to generate a single shot (SG). Wasteful in the end, but you can’t fault his precision passing to set up those chances. In fact, Henrique was one of only two forwards (Ryan Carter the other) that failed to generate a shot.

Other than Henrique’s eleven offensive zone pass attempts, Tuomo Ruutu (10), Dainius Zubrus (10), Michael Ryder (12), Travis Zajac (14), Ryane Clowe (18), and Jaromir Jagr (21!) were forwards that attempted double-digit passes in the offensive zone. Again, territorial domination by the Devils forwards.

Patrik Elias, Zubrus, Zajac, Clowe, and Jagr each generated two shots and the forwards as a group finished with a S/SAG% of 51.9%. A solid effort and one that probably deserved the two points and a win.

Defensemen: A quiet night in terms of shot generation from the defense: only two shots on four attempts. Completion percentages were quite good across the board, only Marek Zidlicky was a bit below the rest of the blue line. Each defenseman attempted at least three passes in the offensive zone, so everyone was getting involved, but there wasn’t as much to show for it this time.

Devils_isles_game_61_passing_1

Devils_isles_game_74_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: Another decent effort from the forwards, finishing at 55.6 PE%. However, there were four turnovers from the group: Brunner (2), Ryder and Elias (1 each). Brunner, Ryder, Carter, and Steve Bernier were the anchors on the group, combining for four possession exits on sixteen attempts. Elias and Zubrus were the standouts.

Defensemen: Andy Greene’s four incompletions were all failed zone exits, and he also committed two turnovers, so it was a mixed bag for him, finishing with a 43.8 PE%. Only Peter Harrold finished above the 50% threshold as four of his six exits were with possession. Zidlicky also added two turnovers and Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill committed one each. Mark Fayne was surprisingly inactive when it came to exit attempts.

Devils_isles_game_74_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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