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San Jose Sharks 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 62nd game of the season against the San Jose Sharks on March 2nd. Read on for the details.

Jim McIsaac
This was a game in which the Devils did far better than the NHL shot attempt trackers would have you believe. The Devils generated forty-five shot attempts off of their passing alone against the Sharks, whereas ExtraSkater (which pulls its data from the league) portrays a far different story. This game would be exhibit one in “Devils under-record shot attempts” theory. At first, I was a bit concerned I was seeing things, but after going back and double-checking my work, I stand behind it. This isn’t the first time what I record hasn’t always jived with sites like ExtraSkater put out there from the league play-by-play, but this game represents the largest difference in terms of shot attempts.

Having gotten that out of the way, I’ll get a clearer picture once I track the Sharks side of the passing game, but the Devils forwards had a very productive afternoon. There were several shifts in which the Devils were able to pin back the Sharks and generate attempt after attempt. The fourth line was quite noticeable in the third period and for good reason. Unfortunately, you have to convert on your attempts, and after battling to a 2-2 tie into the third period, the Sharks were able to convert on two opportunities (the last of which on a terrible turnover by Eric Gelinas) to skate away with a 4-2 win. Let’s get to it.

Passing Stats

Forwards: A strong performance from the forwards. They generated thirty-seven shot attempts (SAG) and eighteen shots (SG). The ratio could have been better as less than half of their SAG made their way to the net. Only Jacob Josefson failed to generate a shot attempt, which was odd considering he was quite active in the offensive zone and went 10/14 overall in his passing. In fact, the entire fourth line was quite active: Stephen Gionta went 7/9 with two SAG, but Ryan Carter had a fantastic game, finishing 12/16 with six SAG and three SG. This may have been one of his best games as a Devil since I’ve been tracking these.

Patrik Elias led the team with seven SAG and four SG on 14/17 passing. Adam Henrique had a solid day as well, going 14/16 with four SAG and three SG. Steve Bernier didn’t disappoint totally, finishing 10/13 with four SAG and three SG. A great, great game from that trio.

Jaromir Jagr (13/18, 3 SAG, 2 SG) has been more accurate lately and still generating chances for his line mates. Travis Zajac (12/16, 1 SAG) had an okay game. Dainius Zubrus (8/9, 3 SAG, 1 SG) had an okay game as well. Is it just me, or does this line seems to have hit a wall of sorts? Maybe because Henrique and Elias have been tearing it up makes it look like they aren’t as productive.

In Andrei Loktionov’s penultimate game with the Devils, he went 7/8 with two SAG and one SG. Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder were a little quieter without Henrique, but still okay.

Defensemen: Having praised the forwards above, the defensemen were big on quantity, not so much on quality. The group generated eight shot attempts and only two shots. Marek Zidlicky (27/32, 3 SAG, 1 SG), Eric Gelinas (24/27, 4 SAG), and Jon Merrill (17/20, 1 SAG, 1 SG) were the only blue liners that generated anything off of their passing.

The group finished above 82% completion rate in each zone, which is quite good. The trio of Merrill, Gelinas, and Zidlicky were incisive in their offensive zone passing as they combined to go 18/19. No real negatives from a passing standpoint, but you would have liked to see more shots generated as opposed to just attempts.



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: Four turnovers for the forwards (Josefson, Gionta, Bernier, and Zajac) as the group finished 5% lower than their average performance at 47.6 PE%. Ryder actually led the group with six attempts, four of which were with possession, so at least he’s transitioning defense to offense while he’s not scoring. The attempts were spread out quite evenly with each forward other than Ryder attempting between two and five zone exits. Most were at 50%, but a few were under, so the group finished slightly under as well.

Defensemen: Finishing at 42.2 PE% is about right for the defensemen. It’s their season average. Zidlicky was lowest among the defense with only two of his nine exit attempts maintaining possession. Gelinas also attempted nine exits, but finished with a 55.6 PE%, good to lead the group on the day. Andy Greene led the group with eleven attempts, but only five with possession.

Unfortunately, the defensemen committed eight turnovers against the Sharks. Zidlicky, Greene, Gelinas, and Mark Fayne each committed two while Merrill and Anton Volchenkov were turnover-free.


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?