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New Jersey Devils at Colorado Avalanche: Zone Exits and Passing Stats

This is a review of the zone exits and passing stats for the New Jersey Devils in their 49th game of the season against the Colorado Avalanche.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
The Devils spent a large portion of the first 40 minutes trying to fish the puck out of their zone. As a result, nearly half of their passes on the night occurred in the defensive zone and the team attempted 95 zone exits. There were some bright spots though, notably Patrik Elias and Adam Henrique among the forwards, and Marek Zidlicky and Jon Merrill on defense. Let’s get to it.

Passing Stats

Forwards: Everyone except for Andrei Loktionov generated at least 1 shot attempt. The line of Dainius Zubrus, Travis Zajac, and Jaromir Jagr played together for the first 2 periods, but regardless of their line mates, the trio continues to control the puck in the offensive zone better than any other forwards. They combined to generate 10 shot attempts, with Zajac responsible for 6 of them.

Henrique and Elias, however, had the best nights in terms of SG: Henrique had 5 SAG and 3 SG, and Elias had 5 SAG and 4 SG. They also generated a combined 5 chances from outside the offensive zone.

Most of the other forwards generated a single shot attempt due to Colorado’s dominant 2nd period. The forwards were below average for their overall pass attempts as well as those attempted in the offensive zone.

Defensemen: Zidlicky missed a few passes in the offensive zone (1/4), but was 17/18 in the other two zones. He generated 3 shot attempts and 2 shots. Merrill went 20/21 on the night, finishing with 2 SAG and 2 SG. Bryce Salvador had another decent passing game (12/13) but was unable to generate any offense. Eric Gelinas got back to producing in the offensive zone as he went 5/5 with 1 SAG. Mark Fayne had a busy night (18/21) and generated 1 SAG. Andy Greene was a bit off as he finished 17/23 with 1 SAG and 1 SG.


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: Zajac led the forwards with 7 attempts, converting 5 of them into possession exits. Henrique (50 PE%) and Reid Boucher (33.3 PE%) were next with 6 each. Besides Boucher’s night, the only poor percentage rates were from Steve Bernier. Collectively, nearly every forward was above 50% as the group finished with a 61.1 PE%. The forwards are now above 50% on the season due to their last 10 – 15 games of solid results.

Turnovers continue to be a problem, however, as the forwards added 5 more, 1 each from Henrique, Boucher, Bernier, Zajac, and Ryan Carter. They weren’t as bad as the defense (7 turnovers), but 5 is a little high for the forwards.

Defensemen: Zidlicky was successful on all 9 of his zone exits, 6 with possession. Greene had the next highest attempts total with 8, but finished with only a 66.7 PE%. The other four defensemen totaled 6 exits apiece, but their possession rates were anywhere from 0 (Gelinas) to 66.7 (Fayne) and in between. Collectively, the group finished just under 44%, or about where they are not averaging for the season.

As I mentioned in the forwards section, the 7 turnovers was a little alarming for the defense. Greene did not have a good night as he committed 3 of them; Gelinas added 2 more as one would expect from him; Salvador and Merrill each added 1 of their own. Zidlicky and Fayne were turnover-free and it was a good thing they were due to how often they were handling the puck in the defensive zone.


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?