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Phoenix Coyotes 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' 73rd game of the season against the Phoenix Coyotes on March 27th. Read on for the details.

Bruce Bennett
The shootout woes continued against the Phoenix Coyotes. Personally, after watching the New Jersey Devils swarm in the overtime period, I’m all in favor of extending it. The Devils fell behind 2-0 to the Coyotes and if not for a last-gasp goal off of a Jon Merrill centering pass in the second period, this game might have been far more depressing than it turned. Adam Henrique (who else?) tied it in the third period and the Devils earned a point as they kept their faint playoff hopes alive. Let’s get to it.

Passing Stats

Forwards: Tuomo Ruutu (12/15) was the most efficient Devils forward as he generated three shots (SG) on three shot attempts (SAG). Patrik Elias (14/17) generated two shots on four attempts and Ryane Clowe (10/12) generated one shot on four attempts as those two led the forwards with four SAG each.

Adam Henrique (9/10, 3 SAG, 1 SG), Jacob Josefson (12/13, 2 SAG, 1 SG), Dainius Zubrus (12/13, 2 SAG, 1 SG), and Jaromir Jagr (9/14, 2 SAG, 1 SG) were the other forwards that generated a shot. Only Elias and Ruutu generated multiple shots.

Defensemen: Marek Zidlicky had a strong game at the offensive end of the ice, generating four shots on six attempts. Overall, his accuracy was lower than usual, even by Zidlicky-standards, as he completed twenty-six of his thirty-six pass attempts. Andy Greene was the busiest defenseman in the defensive zone, attempting twenty four passes there alone, but still was able to get forward enough to generate four shot attempts—unfortunately, there were no shots as a result.

Peter Harrold did his usual thing: generate chances (3 SAG, 1 SG) and miss on passes. He finished 16/26 for a team worst 61.5% completion rate. Jon Merrill went 18/22 and generated one shot on one attempt. Mark Fayne played a steady game, completing all but one of his nineteen passes and generating one shot attempt.



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: Not a bad performance from the forwards (54.8 PE%). Only Stephen Gionta, Elias, and Ruutu were under the 50% mark. Jagr and Ruutu had the group’s only turnovers. The attempts were spread quite evenly as each forward attempted no fewer than two attempts and no more than five.

Defensemen: Eight total turnovers, so at least they are out of the double-digits, but the defensemen turned in a poor performance. If any area of stats I track are continually cause for concern, it is this one. The Devils defense simply does not exit the zone with possession enough. Think about it for a second. This team has trouble scoring, so if their defensemen cannot make that all-important breakout pass to transition defense to offense even fifty percent of the time, the team’s possessions are limited, and by extension their chance to generate offense are limited.

Only Mark Fayne and Eric Gelinas finished at or above the 50% mark, but they combined to attempt only nine zone exits. The majority of the exits were attempted by Greene, Harrold, and Merrill. No one was good. Merrill had three turnovers, Harrold and Greene each had a turnover and an icing. There were a lot of missed passes, eleven to be precise, which gifted possession back to Phoenix.


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?