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New Jersey Devils at Tampa Bay Lightning: Zone Exit and Passing Stats

This is a look at the zone exit and passing statistics for the New Jersey Devils for their 68th game of the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 15th. Read on for the details.

Paul Bereswill
The New Jersey Devils needed a win in Tampa Bay to salvage their road trip through Florida. They did not get it and now face an uphill climb to even get a sniff of the playoffs this year. Similar to the previous night’s effort against the Panthers, the Devils were again wasteful in their shot-generation. Only 44% of the shot attempts generated (SAG) resulted in actual shots on goal (SG). In a piece that will post tomorrow morning at 11:00AM, you’ll see why this is a bad sign. Let’s get to it.

Passing Stats

Forwards: Adam Henrique (13/16) had another strong game, generating three shots on five attempts. Tuomo Ruutu (11/15) also continues to be effective by these metrics, generating two shots on four attempts. Travis Zajac (8/9, 3 SAG, 2 SG) and Ryane Clowe (13/16, 2 SAG, 2 SG) were the only other forwards that generating multiple shots.

Jaromir Jagr (11/14) created three shooting opportunities, but none of them reached the target. Patrik Elias was the busiest forward in the offensive zone for the Devils with fifteen of his twenty-one pass attempts coming from the Tampa end of the ice. He was able to generate three attempts and one shot.

Only Steve Bernier and Stephen Gionta failed to generate a shooting attempt. Jacob Josefson (6/7, 1 SAG) looked okay in his limited minutes. Now he’ll either get promoted to the top line or go back to the press box.

Defensemen: Marek Zidlicky had one of his best games of the season. He completed all twenty-one passes and generated two shots on three shot attempts. Ten of his passes were in the offensive zone and with the Devils needing to win at all costs from here on out, his play will be a key factor in whether or not they can do that.

Mark Fayne and Jon Merrill also got in on the action as each completed 5/6 in the offensive zone, generating one shot on two attempts each. Andy Greene was the busiest passer on the night (23/32, 1 SAG, 1 SG), but wasn’t his normal accurate self, which led to missed opportunities.

Bryce Salvador went 12/16 and didn’t attempt a pass in the offensive zone. On a night when the other five defensemen attempted thirty-two passes at Tampa’s end of the ice, that’s indicative of how ineffective the Captain really is. Even Anton Volchenkov was decent passing the puck (12/14).



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: Josefson finished at 60 PE%, again, he’s responsible with the puck. Gionta actually led the forwards with eight exit attempts and kept possession on four with one turnover. Normally reliable Dainius Zubrus (33%), Elias (40%), and Ruutu (40%) kept the Devils down a bit, but overall the forwards exited with possession 53.8% of the time—a slight bump over their season average. It was a good team effort in the zone exit department.

Defensemen: A solid night for the defensemen. Zidlicky went 4/4 on his exits, keeping possession on all of them. Greene, Volchenkov, and Merrill each were at 50 PE% or higher. Fayne only had two attempts, but neither maintained possession. Merrill (2) and Volchenkov (1) did have three turnovers between them. The worst offender was, you guessed it, Salvador as he finished with a 36.4 PE%. The group still produced a 54.3 PE% rate, which is a good 10% over their season average, but without Salvador’s “efforts,” that would have been a good deal higher.


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?