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New Jersey Devils at Los Angeles Kings: Zone Exits and Passing Stats

This is a look at zone exit and passing stats for the Devils when they took on the LA Kings. The Devils struggled mightily to exit the zone and thus the Kings were able to pin them back repeatedly. Let's take a look at the worst offenders.

Paul Bereswill
The Devils came out and played Hockey in the third period. The only problem was the Kings started playing in the first and rarely let up. The team’s zone exits were terrible and the passing wasn’t strong enough to generate a whole lot going forward. In the third period, the Devils managed to even the ice and play some decent hockey, deciding that they couldn’t exit the zone that well, maybe they’d play a bit more in the Kings’ end.

Passing Stats

Forwards: The forwards had a completion percentage of 71.4% in the defensive zone, which certainly didn’t help out the defensemen very much. In the offensive zone, the forwards had 14 fewer pass attempts than they’ve averaged this season, giving you an idea of how little presence they had in the Kings end throughout the game. They managed to generate 19 shot attempts, which was almost 2 less than their season average, so they weren’t completely useless.

Jaromir Jagr had a good game, going 8/8 in the Kings’ zone, generating 4 shot attempts. After him, Adam Henrique and Steve Bernier had the next strongest games, completing all 11 passes in the King’s zone between them, each generating 3 shot attempts. Andrei Loktionov was his usual active self, going 7/9 with 2 SAG. Michael Ryder had a low-event, yet effective game. Ryan Carter and Stephen Gionta even contributed a bit. Of course, most of these totals occurred in the third period.

Defense: Marek Zidlicky was the busiest defensemen and played pretty well given how the game started and continued. He only misfired on 3 of his 22 attempts, all of which were in the defensive zone. Eric Gelinas was busy in the neutral zone, completing all 5 of his passes there. The defensemen didn’t pass poorly overall, as they were 5% above their season average in the defensive zone. Adam Larsson, Peter Harrold, Mark Fayne, in addition to Zid and Gelinas, all finished in the 75 – 81% completion percentage in their own zone. Andy Green was the only defensemen to complete each pass he attempted. Harrold and Fayne were the only defenders unable to generate a shot attempt. Of course, the defense only generated 4, a full 2 under their season average.

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: In a word: horrible. The forwards had a possession exit percentage of 36%. That is atrocious. On the season, the Devil’s forwards haven’t been exceptional at 48%, but games like this will just take it down. Zubrus, Jagr, and Elias each attempted more than half of the exits for the entire forward group, which would be ideal, only 9 of their 27 attempts were exits with possession. Surprisingly, Mattias Tedenby had an 80% possession rate and was successful on all 5 attempts overall. Most everyone else had a poor game one way or the other.

Defense: And this is why the team struggled so mightily to get forward. In addition to the forwards having trouble passing and exiting in their own end, the defensemen were even worse. Aside from Zidlicky, no one had decent game. A total of 12 turnovers were committed by the 6 defensemen. Larsson and Harrold accounted for 7 of these. Zid was the only defenseman to hit the 50% Possession Exit %.

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.