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Chicago Blackhawks at New Jersey Devils: Zone Exits and Passing Stats

In a game the Devils kept close for two periods, they owed most of that to the bottom 6 forwards. If the top 2 lines could have only found a breakthrough at some point, we'd be talking about getting a point rather than coming up 1 goal short. This article takes a look at the zone exit and passing stats for tonight's, the 42nd, game against Chicago.

Jeff Zelevansky
For two periods tonight, the Devils played right with the best team in the league. In a span of six minutes to start the 3rd period, we all saw why they are the best team in the league. Some sloppy play in their own end allowed the Blackhawks to put a few quick ones past Martin Brodeur. Let’s take a look at the zone exits and passing stats to see how the bottom 6 forwards contributed more than the top 6. Let’s get to it.

Passing Stats


As will be a common theme tonight, Dainius Zubrus had a very quiet game by his standards: 6/8 with no SAG. Travis Zajac had a decent game, completing all 13 passes and generating 3 shot attempts, but none resulted in shots. Jaromir Jagr completed only 10/16 passes with 4 SAG and 1 SG. Not your typical night from the top line.

The newly formed 2nd line of Adam Henrique, Michael Ryder, and Ryane Clowe wasn’t much better. Henrique went 10/11 with 0 SAG; Ryder 8/11 with 1 SAG and 1 SG; and Clowe with 10/11 with 0 SAG. Certainly the volume wasn’t there for everyone due to the special teams play in the first 2 periods, but take a look at some of the other numbers for the rest of the forwards.

Newcomer Mike Sislo completed 7/8 passes with 1 SAG and Reid Boucher completed 5/8 passes with 2 SAG and 1 SG. They did this alongside Andrei Loktionov who reminded everyone what he can do when he plays with competent hockey players: 14/16 passing and 6 SAG with 3 SG. Very nice game from Loki.

My usual whipping boy, Stephen Gionta was back with Ryan Carter and Steve Bernier and they had a good game. Watching them tonight made me think of the Devils 2003 Stanley Cup Video where Lou Lamoriello spoke about why he broke up the A Line when he traded Jason Arnott: he felt that they couldn’t play with other players and that wasn’t good for the team overall. I only thought of that because they seem so much better as a trio than whenever they are separated.

Gionta completed 5/6 passes with 1 SAAG and 1 SG; Carter completed 5/7 (all in the offensive zone) and 2 SAG and 2 SG; and finally, Bernier was pretty busy tonight, completing 13/15 passes with 5 SAG and 3 SG.


Marek Zidlicky had his typical give and receive type of game, but he contributed 7 shot attempts and 2 shots via his passing. Overall, he finished the night 17/22. Bryce Salvador was the only other defenseman to generate a shot, but he missed 4 of his 8 pass attempts in his own end. Andy Greene completed 17/19 passes, generating 1 shot attempt. Mark Fayne completed 11/13 with 1 shot attempt. Eric Gelinas only completed 11 of 17 pass attempts and generated nothing offensively. Jon Merrill had a low-event passing game as he completed 7/8.


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


Finishing at 55.8 PE%, the forwards were good but not great due to 4 turnovers committed by Clowe and Gionta. Clowe led the team in attempts with 11, with 6 maintaining possession. Zubrus was next with 7 attempts and 6 keeping possession. Most forwards only attempted 3 – 5 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?