In this series, I’ll show you how many there were, from where on the ice they were created, and who was involved in each of the offensive chances created from the passing of the New Jersey Devils and their opponents. If unfamiliar with passing statistics, please refer to my primer. This week, we focus on the opener against the Philadelphia Flyers and Saturday’s trip to take on the Florida Panthers.
A few notes on how to read the charts: The "Close" columns indicate which events a player was involved in while the game was within a goal in the 1st or 2nd periods, and a tie game in the 3rd period. The columns that do not have the "Close" designation represent a player’s stats over the course of the game in total.
A second note: This may change from week to week as I’m only concerned with bringing to light the key stats for each game in the past week. Deeper dives and reviews will take place throughout the season to examine all the stats in each situation.
Finally, while last season’s findings led to a perceived importance on transition offense and efficiency, since I’m tracking new data, I’m not beholden to last year’s findings in this investigation. It will take several games to discover what matters and if there is any correlation between last season and this season. Let’s get to it.
Devils and Flyers
Starting with the potential secondary assists (A2), we see the Devils were able to participate in sustained passing offense more often than the Flyers. The Devils defense generated ten attempts and three shots overall, five attempts and one shot in close situations. Andy Greene, Marek Zidlicky, and Jon Merrill each generated a shot, while Greene’s was in a close situation.
Their counterparts from Philly generated the same amount of shots overall and in close situations, yet weren’t able to be involved with as many consecutive passes that led to attempts overall. The Flyers were more efficient, but, as I mentioned above, it will take time to uncover whether or not anything new this season will be as, or more, important than efficiency.
Moving to the forwards, we see how much more successful the Devils forwards were in generating offense from sustained passing plays. The forwards generated nine attempts and six shots through A2 passes, while the Flyers only generated four attempts and three shots. The line of Martin Havlat, Patrik Elias, and Dainius Zubrus were responsible for six of the forward’s nine A2 SAG figures, suggesting that line was more pass and move than the other three.
Moving to the primary passes, each Devils defensemen not named Greene generated at least one shot, and Zidlicky (2), Merrill (1), Bryce Salvador (1), and Damon Severson (1) each contributed in close situations. Overall, the group generated eleven attempts and six shots; they were about as efficient in close situations with nine attempts and five shots.
The Flyers defense is a hot mess. They managed to generate seven attempts and three shots, but none in close situations. Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, and Andrew McDonald were the only Flyers defensemen to generate offense via primary passes.
The forwards for the Flyers were a different story. They generated twenty-eight shot attempts from primary passes and eighteen shots—ten attempts and seven shots in close situations. The Devils generated twenty-three and nine shots overall—twelve and four in close situations. Part of that was the offensive output from the blue line for the Devils that was lacking for the Flyers, and part of that was the fact that the Flyers just have some solid forwards at the top of their lineup.
Devils and Panthers
This was just a game the Devils dominated and then coasted to the finish line, so there’s not too much in the way of stats. Merrill was strong in the A2 department, generating two shots in close situations (impressive considering that was only the first few minutes of the game). Zidlicky added one later on.
The Panthers didn’t generate anything in close situations, but Brian Campbell and Dmitry Kulikov each generated two attempts and three shots between them.
Moving to the forwards, we see the Devils were successful at generating shots from sustained passing as they finished with seven A2 SAG and five A2 SG. In close situations, they generated one shot on two attempts. The Panthers, again, didn’t have anything generated in close situations, but finished with five attempts and one shot generated.
Looking at the primary passing for both teams, the Devils defense played a second strong game in a row, generating three shots on four attempts as all of their offense was during close situations. That tells you that they were busy early on. Greene, Merrill, and Gelinas were responsible for those three shots generated.
Sadly for the Panthers, they generated five attempts and two shots, but nothing during close situations. It’s almost like they weren’t on the ice until the Devils went up 2-0. Dylan Olsen and Erik Gubranson each generated a shot and Campbell led the group with two attempts.
Overall, the Devils forwards generated nine shots on fourteen attempts, one on three in close situations. They were efficient, didn’t have much to do after the first period, and helped to coast the game to an easy finish. Mike Cammalleri, Michael Ryder, and Tuomo Ruutu each generated two shots to lead the group. Ruutu had the group’s only shot generated early on while the game was still in a close situation.
The Panthers generated one shot on two attempts in a close situation, and nine shots on fifteen attempts overall. Dave Bolland led the group with four SAG and two SG, while Nick Bjugstad, Sean Bergenheim, and Jonathan Huberdeau each generated one shot and multiple attempts.
A2 and Scoring Chances
In their first two games the Devils generated twelve attempts from inside the scoring chance area, leading to seven shots. Their opponents generated merely four attempts, which led to two shots. An early hypothesis will be that offense centered around volume and efficiency from the scoring chance area may end up proving more influential to the game’s outcome than overall efficiency.
The A2 stat that is also new this season led me to start thinking about it as a way to measure sustained offense, which I referred to a few times above. If a team has a high number of these figures, their passing game is, in theory, resulting in multiple completed passes and offensive chances.
I’ll need more games before anything concrete, obviously, but those are some of my early thoughts.
I’m working on a few different ways to present this new data, but there are so many data points that I haven’t decided the best way to do it. This served as an overview of the two games. What are some ways you’d like to see it? Are there any questions on the new data? Give me your toughts!