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Washington Capitals 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’ 77th game of the season against the Washing Capitals on April 4th. Read on for the details.

Bruce Bennett
The Devils started with eleven forwards to begin the game, ten to start the second period, and nine to start the third. They would finish with only eight forwards as injuries to Patrik Elias, Adam Henrique, and Jacob Josefson forced coach Pete DeBoer to rely heavily on his top line of Travis Zajac, Jaromir Jagr, and Tuomo Ruutu. Honestly, there’s very little a coach can do with only eight natural forwards. He did throw Eric Gelinas on as a makeshift third/fourth line with helped if only to give the players a bit more of a breather. In the end it was a hard-fought victory in every sense of that cliché. The Devils got exceptional goaltending from Cory Schneider and goals from Ruutu and Ryan Carter to, at the time, make the playoff chance a little more interesting. Let’s get to it.

Passing Stats

Forwards: The aforementioned line of Zajac, Jagr, and Ruutu had a solid game, generating twelve shot attempts (SAG) and nine shots (SG). The trio led the forwards in offensive zone pass attempts s well as total attempts and simply had their way with the Capitals whenever they were on the ice. Should Jagr re-sign for next season, this may be the Devils top line. Based on this game and some others this season, I wouldn’t complain.

Apart from them, only Jacob Josefson (4/4, 1 SAG, 1 SG) and Ryan Carter (4/6, 1 SAG, 1 SG) were the only forwards to generate a shot. Damien Brunner (7/10, 3 SAG) was moving and generating offense, but his production was certainly impacted with Elias and Henrique leaving the game.

Defensemen: Each defenseman generated at least one shot attempt with Marek Zidlicky (4) and Adam Larsson (3) leading the group. Only Zidlicky (2) and Anton Volchenkov (1) generated shots. Larsson had an efficient passing game, missing only once on sixteen attempts. Zidlicky was erratic as usual, finishing 17/25.

Andy Greene (22/27) was the busiest on the night, especially in the neutral zone where he went 8/9. Mark Fayne (16/19) and Peter Harrold (14/17) had quietly efficient nights. Gelinas and Volchenkov didn’t have much volume in their pass 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: Six turnovers clouded an otherwise efficient 52.5 PE% game from the forwards. Dainius Zubrus, Michael Ryder, Brunner, Henrique, Jagr, and Ruutu each committed a turnover. Ruutu actually led the team in attempts (8) and finished with a 75% PE%, so another strong performance in this area for him. Brunner was the next best with 4/5 exits with possession. Carter also had a solid game as 4/6 of his attempts maintained possession. Josefson and Ryder went 0/5 in possession exits, while Zubrus, Jagr, and Mike Sislo went a combined 3/9.Those were your delinquents on this occasion.

Defensemen: As efficient as Larsson’s passing was, his zone exits were, decidedly, not. Only one of his seven exit attempts was with possession and he committed two turnovers. Zidlicky, Fayne, Gelinas, and Volchenkov added turnovers of their own. The defensemen finished at 34.1 PE%, an awful number. Only Zidlicky and Volchenkov were at 50% or higher. Greene led the group with nine exit attempts and only two were with possession. He and Larsson certainly brought the group down.


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?