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New Jersey Devils at Buffalo Sabres: Zone Exits and Passing Stats

I think we all feel a little like this today. This is a look at the Devils zone exits and passing stats for their frustrating display against the Sabres. The zone exits were strong for both defense and forward groups, but the passing stats were a mixed bag.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor
The Devils didn’t generate that much in terms of shooting attempts via their passing against the Sabres. They played an ugly game and took some avoidable penalties, two of which led to two Sabres power play goals. The top line got back to work, but, like most of the team, they couldn’t generate that much off their high volume of passes. The result was a 2-1 Sabres victory and, at least for me, quite a bitter loss.

Passing Stats


Dainius Zubrus went 16/23 with 3 SAG and 1 SG. His completion percentage wasn’t great, but the volume returned to both he and his line mates, so that was a positive sign of their possession habits returning. Travis Zajac went 21/23 with 2 SAG and 1 SG; Jaromir Jagr went 17/19 with only 1 SAG and 1 SG. Again, the volume and possession were there, but the end result in terms of shot attempts wasn’t.

Adam Henrique was the most efficient passer in the offensive zone, completing all 8 passes, generating 3 SAG and 2 SG. No one else besides the top line and Henrique attempted more than 5 passes in the offensive zone. Stephen Gionta and Michael Ryder were the only forwards that did not generate a shot attempt. Collectively, the forwards generated a meager 16 shot attempts via their passes.


The defensemen generated 13 shot attempts, which was just about their season average. Marek Zidlicky, one again, accounted for significant production with 7 SAG and 2 SG. He finished the game 20/23 passing. Bryce Salvador generated 3 shot attempts and 1 shot. Jon Merrill completed all of his passes (17 total) and 15 of which were in the defensive end. As a group, the defensemen only missed 10 passes in total. Not bad.


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


The forwards finished at a 62.5 PE%, so it was a strong night exiting the zone. Zubrus led the team with 9 exit attempts, keeping possession on 7 of them, though he did have 1 turnover Gionta (50 PE%) and Jagr (83.3 PE%) each had 6 attempts. Ryan Carter, Henrique, and Mike Sislo were the only forwards under 50%.



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?