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New Jersey Devils at Buffalo Sabres: Zone Exit and Passing Stats

This is a look at the zone exit and passing statistics for the New Jersey Devils' 76th game of the season against the Buffalo Sabres on April 1st. Read on for the details.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor
The New Jersey Devils simply couldn’t get it done against the worst team in the league. The usual refrain was sung afterwards: “We did enough to win. We should have been up by two or three goals. We had enough chances. We let them hang around.” We’ve heard all that before, but the bottom line is when you say those things for a season and a half, chances are you’re just not very good; you’re average at best. Against the Buffalo Sabres, that’s what the Devils were: average at best. Let’s get to it.

Passing Stats

Forwards: Travis Zajac had a strong game, completing 18/21 passes in the offensive zone alone, generating two shots (SG) on six shot attempts (SAG). He finished 25/31 and was strong on the puck all night. He should have drawn a penalty that would have negated the Sabres second goal, and also could have scored in both regulation and in the shootout. It was almost a great game, but you would have liked to see him bury one of his chances.

Patrik Elias led the forwards with seven shot attempts generated, resulting in three shots. He completed 21/29 passes overall. Michael Ryder (10/12, 4 SAG, 2 SG) and Damien Brunner (9/10, 2 SAG, 2 SG) were the only other forwards to generate multiple shots. Jaromir Jagr generated only a single shot attempt.

As a whole, the forwards were quite inefficient, as only ten of their twenty-seven SAG figures resulted in shots, 37%. Same story, different verse.

Defensemen: Marek Zidlicky and Peter Harrold certainly drove the offense from the backend. Zidlicky (29/38, 7 SAG, 3 SG) and Harrold (29/36, 6 SAG, 4 SG) combined to generate thirteen shot attempts and seven shots. They were both very active at the offensive end of the ice, completing seventeen of twenty-five passes in the Sabres zone.

Adam Larsson followed up a solid debut by being not as solid. He completed 21/24 passes, generating three shot attempts, but his three incompletions led to turnovers, which you’ll see a bit further down this article. Eric Gelinas wasn’t great either, failing to generate a shot attempt and prone to turnovers again. Andy Greene and Mark Fayne were steady, if unspectacular.



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:Dainius Zubrus was his usual consistent self as all three of his zone exits were with possession. Ryan Carter and Elias each committed two turnovers and were the only forwards to do so. The results were mixed as the forwards finished just below the 50% mark (49%). Those most at fault were Zajac, Mike Sislo, Jacob Josefson, Steve Bernier, Michael Ryder, and Elias.

Defensemen: Turnovers were a big problem for the defense as Larsson (4), Greene (2), Gelinas (2), Fayne (1), and Harrold (1) all committed at least one. Zidlicky was the only defenseman without one, as he finished with a 81.8 PE%, a solid night from him. Harrold was still above 50% (54.5) despite the turnover, so overall he was successful. As a group, the defensemen finished at 46.2 PE% with ten total turnovers. Not a good night.


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?