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.
Like last week, I'm trying something different and want to look at which Devils are combining with each other most often. What you see below are two charts (defense and forwards) for how many shot attempts players combine on. These totals are from the Devils last week or so of games against the Columbus Blue Jackets, St. Louis Blues (home and away), and Detroit Red Wings. Recaps for said matchups are here, here, here, and here. I'll work in shots and efficiency as I go, but it was a busy week. I attended the War-On-Ice Hockey Analytics Conference at Carnegie Mellon University this past weekend. You can watch my presentation here (I start around the 20:00 mark). Let's get to it.
Marek Zidlicky was involved in twenty-eight passing events, an even split between those he generated and those he was the recipient of. His primary targets were Damien Brunner, generating four attempts for the winger, and Eric Gelinas, generating three attempts for the young defenseman. On the flip side, Bryce Salvador and Jacob Josefson each generated a pair of attempts for Zidlicky. What does this tell us? Well, it shows that Zidlicky can get involved with anyone on the ice as he can get into space and play provider or target-man for his teammates. He’s not dependent on one line or group to be effective.
The rest of the defensemen are a mixed bag. Jon Merrill only played in one of these games, I believe, so excuse his lower totals. Adam Larsson was the next highest defensemen in terms of shot attempts (10) via passes, though Gelinas and Damon Severson were right behind him with nine each. Last season, Gelinas and Larsson were most involved in the passing game when paired with each other and we’re seeing some of that play out this season as well. Gelinas was the blue line’s second-best provider in terms of volume.
It is somewhat alarming to see Andy Greene’s production below Salvador’s, but I’m wondering if Greene will be more defensive-minded with Severson as a regular partner. Severson is significantly more offensive-minded than Mark Fayne was, so I’m expecting more conservative totals this season for Greene if these pairings stay together.
Michael Ryder and Tuomo Ruutu were most involved in passing combinations over this stretch of games—seventeen each. Both were more shooters than providers, with Ruutu leading the group with twelve attempts and Ryder just behind with ten. Five of Ruutu’s generated attempts came from Stephen Gionta and Mike Sislo, so this would suggest the fourths are doing a good job in the passing game.
Travis Zajac (11), Jaromir Jagr, and Adam Henrique (both 10) generated the most attempts among forwards. Henrique generated three for Patrik Elias and two for Larsson as his most common targets. Zajac and Jagr combined on five attempts (three for Jagr, two for Zajac). Jagr also generated multiple attempts for Brunner and Greene.
Elias (8 events as shooter, 6 as passer), struck a good balance, but it was quite evident that the Henrique-Elias-Ryder line was looking great before Henrique’s injury. With Martin Havlat and Mike Cammalleri on the verge of returning, I’d really like to see Henrique with Havlat and Elias for a few games. Think that line has strong potential.
What'd you think? As I do more of this, we'll be able to look at which players are most efficient, who is most involved with each other in transition, in scoring chances, etc. What are some areas you'd like to see presented differently? Sound off below!