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New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils: Zone Exit and Passing Stats

This is a look at the zone exit and passing statistics for the New Jersey Devils' 71st game of the season against the New York Rangers on March 22nd. Read on for the details.

Bruce Bennett
The New Jersey Devils needed a win against the rival New York Rangers in a bad way. The effort put forth by the skaters and a solid performance in net from Martin Brodeur cannot be faulted. The execution, however, most certainly can. The Devils attempted nearly three hundred passes at even strength in this game, generated thirty-nine shot attempts (SAG) via their passing, and spend considerable time in the Rangers defensive zone. Unfortunately, of those thirty-nine shot attempts, a mere eleven resulted in actual shots on net (SG). This is a story we’ve heard all too often with these Devils, going back to the lockout season. Alas, we hear it once more. Let’s get to it.

Passing Stats

Forwards: Oh, what missed opportunities. Five Devils forwards attempted fifty-seven passes in the Ranger defensive zone, generated seventeen shot attempts, and a measly six shots. So much promise and territorial presence that resulted in so little to show for it is depressing. Those five forwards were the usual suspects: Dainius Zubrus (17/21, 2 SAG, 1 SG), Travis Zajac (14/20, 3 SAG, 1 SG), Patrik Elias (17/22, 5 SAG, 1 SG), Ryane Clowe (16/21, 4 SAG, 2 SG), and Jaromir Jagr (17/21, 3 SAG, 1 SG).

As you can see, it was quite balanced between these five as they each attempted between twenty and twenty-two passes. Tuomo Ruutu and Adam Henrique were less impactful as each generated two shot attempts, but no shots. Steve Bernier generated three attempts but none found the frame of goal either.

Defensemen: With Anton Volchenkov leaving due to injury, the other five blue liners had to shoulder the load. They came through it with a solid performance. The quintet of Marek Zidlicky (5), Andy Greene (2), Mark Fayne (2), Bryce Salvador (2), and Jon Merrill (3) generated fourteen shot attempts and five shots. Not the best S/SAG% (35.7%), but the volume put forth by the defensemen was admirable. Zidlicky (26/30) and Greene (26/28) both attempted at least ten passes in the offensive zone alone. Fayne was the only defenseman to generate multiple shots (2).



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: Six turnovers isn’t bad for a night the forwards finished with a 61.7 PE%. In fact, every single forward was at or above fifty percent. The only real fault with the group were the turnovers: Jagr (2), Elias, Clowe, Josefson, and Gionta with one each. Zubrus had the best night as he went 6/8 with possession. Josefson had the next highest attempts (7), with four maintaining possession. Michael Ryder went 4/6 exits with possession and was turnover-free, so a positive night for him.

Defensemen: With a 52.4 PE%, the defense group’s fine play extended beyond just their passing and shot-generation. They still committed nine turnovers, so it wasn’t all roses, by any stretch. Zidlicky (2), Greene (2), Salvador (2), and Merrill (2) each committed multiple turnovers. Fayne had one as well. Despite the turnovers, Zidlicky and Fayne led the blue line with a PE% at or above 70%. Merrill (37.5%) and Greene (41.7%) had subpar efforts exiting the zone.


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?