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New Jersey Devils at Anaheim Ducks: Zone Exits and Passing Stats

This is a look at zone exit and passing stats for the Devils and Ducks. Similar to the other West Coast games, the Devils got off to a slow start, but gradually got back into the game in part because of the solid work of the Zubrus-Zajac-Jagr line. Let's see who struggled and who had some success.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Early on, the Devils struggled getting out of their zone and couldn’t get forward as often as we’d have liked. The Devils got better as the game went on. They were effective at generating shot attempts via passes and Travis Zajac and Dainius Zubrus in particular had strong games together. Others, such as Peter Harrold, did not have a good game by either metric.

Passing Stats

Forwards: Dainius Zubrus and Travis Zajac had stellar nights in all three zones. Zubrus generated 7 shot attempts and Zajac had 3. Zajac was 12/12 in the offensive zone and Zubrus was 12/13. The two of them really put on a clinic, which makes it all the more curious that Jaromir Jagr did not have a good game. He went only 3/8 with and generated zero shot attempts. Of course, he did score a goal, so we’ll let it slide a bit. He wasn’t his usual Jagr-self though.

Andrei Loktionov generated 5 shot attempts and passed well, completing 13/15 overall and 8/10 in the offensive zone. Patrik Elias was a bit better than in recent games, completing all 10 of his passes and generating 2 shot attempts. Steve Bernier completed 6/7 in the offensive zone, generating 3 shot attempts. The only forwards who did not generate a shot attempt were Michael Ryder, Cam Janssen, and Jagr. Defense: Woe unto Peter Harrold. He went 13/19 in his own end and generated 1 shot attempt. You’ll see some worse numbers for Harrold in the zone exit section, but his passing isn’t pretty. If he’s attempting the most passes out of the defensive group, it’s usually not a good sign. Marek Zidlicky had a reduced workload in his own zone, seemingly, but he also went 5/6 in the offensive zone and generated 2 shot attempts.

Adam Larsson went 16/16 overall, completing 14 in his own zone. He generated 1 shot attempt as well. Andy Greene misfired on a few passes in the defensive zone, but was 8/8 in the other two zones, generating 2 shot attempts. Mark Fayne and Eric Gelinas had steady games, failing to generate shot attempts, but playing well enough not to drag the team down. Fayne, and the defensemen as a group, were busy in the neutral zone, completing and attempting more passes there than the entire group of forwards.

Passing Data Explained:

Pass: A reasonable and deliberate attempt to get the puck to a teammate which maintains possession or results in a shot attempt. This excludes zone clears, dump-ins, and anything that is akin to a desperate swipe at a loose puck. If a player passes a puck into space or off the boards, it finds a teammate, and it appears it was done deliberately, that shall be a pass. When in doubt, common sense will prevail.

What you see below 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.

Zone Exit Stats Forwards: Overall, the forwards did very well. Only a few did well in possession, however. Elias had the most effective game, exiting with possession 75% of the time. Loktionov and Ryder had the most attempts (6) and both did well overall and in possession. Even Janssen had a decent time exiting the zone.

A few notable players had 0% for possession: Zajac, Bernier, and Adam Henrique. Damien Brunner and Stephen Gionta also had 0%, but it was more surprising to see the former group finish so low. It was a low total for the forwards as a group, so perhaps it’s just a small sample size, but it was alarming.

Defense: I don’t mean to pile on Harrold, but so often he’s the worst of the bunch at zone exits. His overall success rate was only 64.7%, and his possession exit rate was 35.3%. He committed 5 turnovers. Granted, Fayne and Zidlicky had slightly worse possession rates, but they attempted far fewer exits than Harrold did. Gelinas had the best night, exiting with possession 60% of the time and 100% overall. Greene and Larsson had decent games, though Greene had 2 turnovers and Larsson had 1. Eventually Volchenkov and/or Salvador will be healthy again, so you’d think someone will come out. I really wonder if that shouldn’t be Harrold. With Zid, Greene, and Gelinas in the lineup, I don’t think he’s needed necessarily.

Zone Exits: 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 Exits:

(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.

Every 10 games or so, I’ll post a separate article looking the cumulative data.

Have any questions? Comments? Suggestions? Hit me up on Twitter at @RK_Stimp.