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Faceoffs, a part of the game that some consider vital, while others consider them to be practically meaningless.  And to an extent, one can consider that to be true, particularly the ones in the neutral zone.  But for the other ones, they can be crucial, particularly late in a game. 

Consider this case scenario:

There’s 10 seconds left in the game, Team A is losing to Team B by a score of 3-2.  There’s a faceoff deep in the Team B zone.  The coach of Team A calls the timeout and draws up a play for the players to execute in the offensive zone upon their victory of the faceoff.  Team B also uses the time to draft a play to get the puck out of the zone when they win the draw.  See anything familiar?  The key to the potential success of the play depends on the faceoff…  And then there’s you, “Joe Fan”.  When you see the teams line up to take the draw, what’s one of the first things to run through your mind?  Who’s taking the draw, and is there a second centreman on the ice in case someone jumps the gun?  Again, thinking about faceoffs.  While the execution of a play is the most vital piece, it cannot come to fruition unless the team wins the draw; this is the case for both Teams A and B.

So, to put it more in an NHL perspective, what NHL team would be the most successful in the above scenario (based on their success percentage?)  Furthermore, who is the one particular player you, as a coach or a fan, would like to see out there?  And are they on the same team? 

I can tell you that the answer to question 2 is Canadiens’ centre Yanic Perreault, followed by Oilers’ centre Adam Oates.  And to answer number 3, no, neither of these centremen are on the league’s top faceoff team.  Who is the top faceoff team?  As always, the chart will explain…

Team Faceoff win percentage Rank
Anaheim 54.87% 1
Atlanta 47.00% 27
Boston 52.18% 5
Buffalo 50.01% 14
Calgary 51.57% 8
Carolina 54.44% 2
Chicago 49.46% 19
Columbus 48.33% 23
Colorado 49.81% 17
Dallas 51.05% 11
Detroit 52.88% 3
Edmonton 50.79% 12
Florida 45.94% 30
Los Angeles 52.32% 4
Minnesota 46.24% 29
Montreal 51.39% 9
Nashville 47.80% 25
New Jersey 47.14% 26
New York I. 49.77% 18
New York R. 51.78% 7
Ottawa 48.20% 24
Philadelphia 50.61% 13
Phoenix 48.80% 21
Pittsburgh 46.97% 28
San Jose 49.00% 20
St. Louis 49.89% 16
Tampa Bay 49.97% 15
Toronto 52.06% 6
Vancouver 51.38% 10
Washington 48.58% 22

Faceoff statistics (both team and individual) as of games played through Friday, January 30th, 2004.

So, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim actually do have something going for them so far this season, as they are the top faceoff team in the NHL, led by the likes of Sergei Fedorov, Steve Rucchin, Sami Pahlsson, Andy McDonald and Jason Krog.  As a team, they have a combined percentage of 54.87%, which is roughly 10% lower than that of the most successful faceoff individual, that being Perreault, who wins at a clip of about 65%.  The worst team in the particular statistic, Florida, is about 9% lower than the Ducks, which shows that there isn’t a team who stands out amongst the rest in terms of winning faceoffs.  This particular stat also shows that being the best, or near it doesn’t guarantee success in the standings, as shown by Anaheim and Carolina, both out of the playoffs by a long shot at this time.  But as always, the only stat that matters in terms of the standings is goals scored versus goals allowed, having a good record in all of these other stats can only contribute to the cause.

Here are a couple of other little tidbits in this particular stat:

  • The average victory percentage is 50.01, which seems a little odd considering there’s a winner and a loser in the faceoff, it’s 50-50. (Real reason: Percentages were rounded to the nearest hundredth, leaving a ±0.01% percent margin of error) .

  • The median (middle) victory rate was 49.93%, the top team being approximately 5% higher, the worst team roughly 4% lower.

In terms of the Montreal Canadiens, only 5 regular forwards are winning faceoffs at a rate equal to, or higher than, 50%, one of them obviously being the aforementioned Perreault.  Given the current trade scenarios involving Perreault, I opted to figure out what the Habs’ faceoff victory rate would be without him.  The answer: 48.75%, which would fall under the 22nd best ranking in the league, down from 9th where they currently are.  What does this mean?  Before Perreault potentially gets shipped out of town, perhaps it would be wise to consider acquiring a centre in return who’s adequate at winning draws (if possible of course).

To end this, here’s a little Habs faceoff trivia:


Name the only Montreal Canadiens defenceman to take (and win) a faceoff this season.


A:  Sheldon Souray

B:  Andrei Markov

C:  Craig Rivet

D:  Stephane Quintal

(The answer will be posted in next weeks’ article.)

Questions/comments?  E-mail me at [email protected].

Statistics courtesy of NHL.com