Skip to main content

Who Needs Help in the Faceoff Circle

Today's feature comes via the prompting of David, a reader of this blog who noted to me in an email that "it seems that teams on the power play seem to win face-offs most of the time. I figured it was just one of those weird perception things... that really had no merit." David then showed some numbers from selected teams that seemed to indicate a trend, so I went ahead and pulled all the data for this season up through the games of February 13, and came up with the following results for teams depending on the situation (even strength, power play, shorthanded):

Faceoff Percentages By Team & Situation
TeamEV %PP %SH %Tot %
Anaheim Ducks51.09%50.97%42.45%49.68%
Atlanta Thrashers52.74%58.81%40.92%51.87%
Boston Bruins49.14%54.99%38.19%48.33%
Buffalo Sabres45.99%61.76%42.52%47.71%
Calgary Flames50.33%54.57%41.96%49.71%
Carolina Hurricanes50.08%58.02%46.97%50.92%
Chicago Blackhawks51.74%60.68%46.41%52.41%
Colorado Avalanche47.80%54.29%37.77%47.52%
Columbus Blue Jackets53.04%56.76%44.10%52.29%
Dallas Stars49.14%55.45%49.32%49.98%
Detroit Red Wings54.20%57.71%54.07%54.70%
Edmonton Oilers49.81%59.54%48.43%50.89%
Florida Panthers49.33%53.83%41.89%48.84%
Los Angeles Kings47.38%55.09%42.69%48.00%
Minnesota Wild46.64%53.61%41.47%46.84%
Montreal Canadiens49.02%53.46%41.51%48.65%
Nashville Predators50.84%50.12%45.48%50.04%
New Jersey Devils49.65%56.46%44.42%49.90%
New York Islanders51.43%58.84%45.40%51.45%
New York Rangers51.69%57.70%48.06%52.14%
Ottawa Senators52.09%54.30%43.28%51.08%
Philadelphia Flyers49.07%60.00%41.59%49.63%
Phoenix Coyotes48.97%53.87%36.70%48.06%
Pittsburgh Penguins47.03%54.27%42.40%47.53%
San Jose Sharks51.55%61.59%42.78%52.05%
St. Louis Blues51.26%51.05%55.21%51.76%
Tampa Bay Lightning50.14%56.70%38.46%49.46%
Toronto Maple Leafs50.06%56.39%42.09%49.98%
Vancouver Canucks48.34%55.26%41.74%48.38%
Washington Capitals50.47%52.44%48.49%50.43%
Grand Total50.00%56.04%43.96%50.00%

The Grand Total line does seem to indicate that teams on the power play fare better in the faceoff circle; this makes some sense, given the presence of at least one extra player who can gain possession of the puck after the drop. Taking this view does provide an additional perspective when thinking about what certain teams might try to acquire at the trade deadline. Just about every year, some team picks up a good faceoff guy (like Yannic Perrault), but when reviewing this data, which teams might need help in that area?

The overall laggards are Minnesota, Colorado, Pittsburgh and Buffalo, all below 48% in total. If you look at players who are likely to be acquired for their faceoff ability, however, most of those guys are defensive specialists, not the ones who get prime time on the power play. So, for example, the Nashville Predators (50.12%) and Anaheim Ducks (50.97%) which have won the fewest draws while on the power play, picking a specialist up in trade probably won't help there (although it might be worth considering, given how Anaheim is 23rd on the PP and Nashville is 27th).

It is perhaps more useful to focus on even-strength (where Buffalo, Minnesota and Pittsburgh all lag) and particularly shorthanded (with Phoenix, Colorado and Boston) situations to find teams that could both use and take advantage of help in the faceoff circle. You can also look at the Tampa Bay Lightning, who, at 49.46% overall, would appear to be in good shape, but when you examine their breakdown by situation, you'll see a lousy shorthanded performance. If they become sellers at the trade deadline they could look for a solid PK specialist who can win more of those draws and take some of the load off the Big Three (Lecavalier, Richards, and St. Louis).

The Red Wings boast a sizable lead at 54.7% of faceoffs won in total, including an outstanding figure of 54.07% in shorthanded situations (only St. Louis is also above the 50% mark while a man down). If the Blues and/or Blue Jackets fall out of the Western Conference playoff hunt might they be able to offer assets that could help teams like Colorado and Boston, which are in the midst of exceedingly tight playoff races? I'll leave that for Spector to ruminate on, but hopefully this provides some insight into how your favorite team is working the faceoff dot in various situations.

Popular posts from this blog

How I'm Trying To Make Money Sports Blogging

To kick off this series of articles general sports-blogging articles here at OTF Classic, I think it's best to start with a comment that Brad left here last week, after I shared my goals for 2012, which include specific revenue targets:
I considered diving into the world of internet marketing myself, but I felt that my friends would hate me for bugging them about stuff. I mean, it's pretty low-risk high-reward, so it's tempting. I wouldn't mind reading about tips on how to maximize impact of blogging in general to make it a legitimate income source. Trying to make money at sports blogging can be a very touchy subject - for the vast majority of us, this is an activity we pursue to both exercise our creativity and share our love of the game, whether it's hockey, football, badminton, whatever, with fellow fans. Mixing that personal conversation with a commercial message can turn people off, especially if it becomes too intrusive for the reader.

It's not unreasonabl…

Get Your NHL Super Schedule 2008-9 Right Here!

Click here for the 2009-10 NHL Super Schedule, at my new site,!

The NHL announced the 2008-9 Regular Season schedule today, so of course, it's time right here to publish my very own NHL Super Schedule 2008-9 as well.

For those unfamiliar with what I did last year, the NHL Super Schedule is a spreadsheet that I put together and make publicly available via Google Documents*. It includes an entry for each game in each team's 82-game regular season schedule, with additional information such as how far that team has had to travel since its last game, how many days have passed since that previous game, and various statistics relative to the opponent that evening, such as 2007-8 Winning Percentage, Goals Per Game, Goals Against Per Game, etc. For example, you can total the distance that each team will travel during the upcoming season, or find who plays the most back-to-back games. Check out which team faces the toughest opposing offenses, or which power plays…

Canadian Baloney, starring James Mirtle

A tireless refrain from the Canadian media is that Nashville is an absolute failure as a hockey market, and failing to move the team north of the border is an exercise in folly by the NHL.

Our latest exhibit comes from James Mirtle, usually one of the more thoughtful hockey bloggers extant:
But Nashville, quite simply, has proven it cannot sustain an NHL hockey team. Even with the lowest ticket prices in the entire league (I know: I've looked into flying there for a game or two) and a ridiculously forgiving arena lease, the team has had attendance issues despite having one of the best records in the league.

It's not a matter of Canadians not wanting teams in the southern U.S.; I've argued time and again in favour of teams like Dallas and Tampa Bay that have supported their teams and really brought something to the table in terms of bringing news fans and new energy to the game. That's a good thing.

The Predators, however, are not that, not in the beginning and certainly no…