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Detroit Red Wings 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' 63rd game of the season against the Detroit Red Wings on March 4th. Read on for the details.

Bruce Bennett
A late Stephen Gionta deflection past Jimmy Howard secured a vital two points for the New Jersey Devils. Some might say that the Devils were even lucky to be in that situation (tied 3-3 in the third) as every time I looked up it seemed like Detroit had the puck and wouldn’t give it away. To compare their last two games, the Devils attempted fifty more passes and generated eighteen more shot attempts (SAG) against the Sharks than against the Red Wings. Of course, they only generated six more shots (SG) against the Sharks, so perhaps they were doing more with less against the Red Wings? Let’s get to it.

Passing Stats

Forwards: To reiterate from above, the forwards only attempted fifty-nine passes in the offensive zone, compared to over 100 against the Sharks. Having said that, it doesn’t really matter if you’re Adam Henrique or Patrik Elias lately: they combined for ten SAG and seven SG. Dainius Zubrus had a strong game as he generated three attempts and two shots. Other than that, the offense dried up quickly for the Devils.

Defensemen: Similar to the Sharks game, the defensemen generated eight shot attempts. They added one more shot generated against the Red Wings, but it’s still poor. Marek Zidlicky (3 SAG, 1 SG) and Mark Fayne (3 SAG, 1 SG) were the most productive from the blue line.

In the Sharks game, the defensemen attempted 22% of their passes inside the Sharks zone. Against the Red Wings, they attempted only 13% of their passes in the offensive zone. Territorially, the Red Wings controlled most of this game and so the Devils defense simply couldn’t contribute as much.



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: Terrible. 37.2 PE% is 15% lower than their season average. Michael Ryder (one possession exit on seven attempts), Elias (3/8), and Ryane Clowe (0/4) were the worst offenders. Zubrus may have been the most efficient forward on the night as he generated offense and had a 60 PE% rate. Eight total turnovers were committed by Stephen Gionta (2), Steve Bernier (2), Travis Zajac (1), Ryan Carter (1), and Elias (2).

Defensemen: Exits were much better than I anticipated (58.3 PE%). Each defenseman was at 50 PE% or higher, with Jon Merrill leading the way at 4/4. There were still seven turnovers between Zidlicky, Fayne, Andy Greene, and Eric Gelinas, but they were at least better coming out of their own end when they weren’t turning it over.


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?