The Oil and faceoffs…

By , October 22, 2010 3:11 pm
This graph actually took me forever to do... be impressed.

This graph actually took me forever to do... be impressed.

So I figured I’d point it out, but the Oilers have had 5 games so far, and I’m not so sure there is a coincidence that they have been terrible in games where they have been equally terrible in the faceoff circle.

Game 1 vs. Calgary, the Oilers played fantastic and dominated the play. Overall on the night, they were 52% on the dot (which, granted, is marginally ahead). Horcoff did struggle on special teams draws, however. Aside from that, everyone else seemed to be doing well.

Game 2 vs. Florida, the Oilers won, but they barely deserved to win. Actually… they didn’t deserve to win. The faceoffs again seem to support that, as they were brutally dominated, winning only 33% of all draws on the night.

Game 3 vs. Minnesota, again, the Oilers deserved to lose, but they did lose this time. This time around, they were on the losing end of the majority of draws, with 46%. The Oil were murdered by 4 PP goals, and were a mere 25% on the dot while short-handed.

Game 4 vs. Calgary, the Oilers were again outplayed, this time by the Flames that they outplayed on opening night. This time the Flames got the best of the Oil on the dot, with a dominant 71% of faceoffs won.

Game 5 vs, Minnesota, the Oilers played a hell of a game, but they just couldn’t seem to solve Backstrom. They deserved the win here. The faceoffs again also support that trend, with the Oil winning 60% of all draws.

So, I’m not saying there is a direct relationship, like the graph would show… but there definitely is a bit of a relationship there. The Oilers have been focusing on draws more and more, especially after Renney called the whole team out after the loss to Calgary. That seemed to have worked a bit, as the Oilers did put on a faceoff clinic to a team that owned them just a week before.

Hopefully this is something we see the Oilers putting a lot of time in. Personally, I think faceoffs aren’t just won by the guy on the dot. It’s a line effort. The wingers really have to do their job to recover pucks after the draw, which is something we’ve struggled with for quite a while. Gagner’s quote at the beginning of the season about not really working on draws because it’s not something you can practice was a bit unsettling, but it looks like the whole team is putting effort into it now.

I think if the Oilers keep working on this though, we could see this team pull things out of the fire. But really, everyone knows it.. it’s hard to win games when you’re constantly fighting to get the puck back. It’s disappointing that our GM has never seen a need for a faceoff guy, but I’m hoping that with all this work the team puts into faceoffs, they will be able to improve within the organization without looking for outside help.

14 Responses to “The Oil and faceoffs…”

  1. Racki says:

    Added thought here…

    If the Oilers can’t consistently get around 50% or better, I think they need to bring in someone that can help in that area, in addition to continually working at it in practice. In addition, moving Brule back to center would help a lot too.

  2. LateNightOilFan says:

    I’ve always valued faceoff success as having a direct impact on the flow of the game, due to increased puck possession and your analysis seems to point to that as well, albeit we are looking at a small sample. But I feel the same as you about investing in a faceoff guy. I’m keeping tabs on the Isles in that dept this year, they so far are noticing a difference with the addition of Konopka IMO.

    At least the Oilers have Sillinger, bring him in to do some work with the players, if he doesn’t already.

  3. Racki says:

    Yah for sure the small sample provided here doesn’t help, but I suppose we could also use the past few years as examples too. Obviously there isn’t a direct one-to-one relationship between the two, and it’s not our only problems. If you look at 2006-07 season, that’s an example where the team excelled at draws, but was ended up 25th overall in standings.

    But yah, it just is no secret that winning more draws leads to more puck possession, leads to more scoring chances, leads to more goals. I just thought it was interesting how direct the relationship has been so far this year between good and bad games, but it is a very small sample set still, as you pointed out. I’ll be interested to see if this continues or not.

  4. LateNightOilFan says:

    Well that’s the thing, you have to be careful with the relationship. We may have been great on draws in 06/07, but we also had AHL and Jr D-men due to all the injuries on the blueline and lost 18 of our final 20 games including 12 in a row. Definitely a year to forget!

  5. Ktown says:

    I remember during the Cup run in 06, the Oil were dominant on the dot. I don’t think there’s too far a leap to say that a team can’t be successful without face-offs. I really hope last night’s numbers are indicative of the added focus the team is putting on draws.

  6. Racki says:

    LateNightOilFan: Well that’s the thing, you have to be careful with the relationship.We may have been great on draws in 06/07, but we also had AHL and Jr D-men due to all the injuries on the blueline and lost 18 of our final 20 games including 12 in a row.Definitely a year to forget!

    Yah for sure.. I think in this case though I think the faceoffs have played a big factor in our ability to win or lose games. Especially with the smaller forwards, we don’t want to have to be battling for pucks all the time.

  7. zackman35 says:

    This has been quite a popular topic for the last week. I’ve been looking up stats the last few days (last season too) about this.

    Sidney Crosby went ~56% in the dot with 1791 FO taken. He never ceases to amaze me. Stastny was up there too but wow… Over 1000 draws won (Crosby) if its any consolation Horcoff took 1337 draws last year.

    When you compare teams we must also realize what the centers had to work with (in 2006/07). Top in points with Smyth, Sykora, Hemmer and Horc all just reaching over 50 tallies in the points column. This has all been mentioned by LNOF already though.

    I can’t think of too many “winning” teams that are weak down the middle. It does frighten me too when Gags mentioned not being able to work on Faceoffs but if you think about it, it would be quite difficult. Higher somebody to drop pucks with you for an hour or two out of your day, how do you feel like there’s any progression? It’s not like he can lace up and head to a local rink and practice with some guys there (he should be able to win 90% of the draws, if not all). Still though, it’s like teaching your body any other type of movement… you do it enough times and myelin will form around the cell/group of cells. Eventually you should increase the efficiency and reaction time of the movement. In a nutshell, we can’ teach FO’s in one night, or over a period of a few clinics. We will need to trade to acquire someone.

    Interesting to note, Horcoff (621) was followed by Potulny (389) and Gags (336) in face-off wins last year.

    Note: Gagner did quite well last night, winning all the draws in our zone and going 13/18 72% in the dot.

  8. Racki says:

    Yah for sure they can’t train faceoffs over night, but I still think it’s a group effort. Horcoff used to be mid-50s, and now he’s 40s. Why? I think part of that has to do with him not having strong enough wingers to battle for loose pucks too. That’s what I’m talking about training in.. more of a group thing. Part of being a good faceoff man is having the speed and timing for sure, but there are guys that can get by without the speed by being strong and tying up their opponents too. That kind of stuff can be worked on, and you can do the off ice training to help there. Who was it that mentioned that Koivu and someone else on the Wild constantly works on faceoffs? There are plenty of other guys in the league that do it too. For some guys it comes naturally, sure, but there are guys that have put a LOT of time into it too.

    I do think that they can learn to be a better faceoff team. Individually it will be hard for them to boost their FO%, but working on it together in practice (which they’ve been doing) might get them a bit more of an advantage on a draw.

    That said, I do wish that the Oilers would pick up another faceoff man, but I’ve been saying that for what must be 3 years now. So I’m not holding my breath.

  9. zackman35 says:

    Oh I understand what you are saying Racki and I definitely think that can be improved too but working on the “team” effort of a face-off can only get you so far. I don’t know the stats on the clean draw wins vs. “dirty” draw wins but I think it would be better to have guys who can win them cleanly for the most part.

    I would suggest some names for guys I would like to see in/back in an Oilers jersey but I would just be blowing smoke. (I think that’s the right phrase). Just went over to ON and found out Brownlee mentioning (along with another blogger) of the possibility of Re-Khabi of being traded. I tell you, the day ST makes a roster move (trade), before the season of evaluation is up… well I don’t know what I’d do/say. Surprised would be an understatement.

  10. Racki says:

    LOL @ the evaluation stuff.

    And I agree that it would really help to have guys who are natural on the dot (if there is such a thing). I just think that there are those Koivus and Stolls that spend a lot of time outside of practices/games working at faceoffs. So hearing Gagner say he couldn’t work on it, was a little disconcerting. I don’t think he can work on it easily, and I don’t think it will be an overnight thing, but I think if he busts his balls working on it, over a couple of years, he’ll start to see the results.

    But that’s Gagner… and maybe Cogliano. I’m not suggesting we waste much time on a bottom six guy that isn’t a developed faceoff man. I’ve always thought that it was well worth it to just hire out in that area.

  11. Mr.Majestyk says:

    Agreed on hiring out for bottom six guys. At the start of the offseason you had made a list of possible FA signings to fill our 3rd line center spot. I’m pretty sure every one of those guys got snapped up by an NHL club, many of them going really cheap(Belanger for one). It seems like every season those guys can be had. Not sure why we’d spend so much time developing one when we could just sign one that is ready to go from day 1. For that matter, we can stop complaining about trading Reasoner and Brodziak too. Losing them wasn’t a big deal, signing someone to replace them was the problem. Its fine if you want to allow someone else in the organization an opportunity to take on that role, but if they aren’t cutting it, you should act and get someone who can do it. Of course, last season and this season there isn’t really much incentive to do anything to make the team better. It is what it is.

  12. Racki says:

    Yah I agree with that, Mr. M. It also goes back to your statement in the other discussion about management knowing who the core guys are too. These guys are really important, but I wouldn’t consider them the core at all. To save money, we’d want the cheapest guy available who can get the job done.. and these guys usually don’t sign for that high a price tag.

    I will say though, I’m still one of the delusional folks that thinks this team still has a shot at the playoffs. Or at the very least, it’s still too big of an unknown not to at least give it your best shot. I’ve never been a fan of writing the season off before it’s really starter. There should be a cut-off point where you figure out if your team has a chance (trade deadline has always been that for teams), but this is too early. So they basically have to give it an honest effort. I think the role player and shutdown D would give us a good boost in the right direction.

  13. Mr.Majestyk says:

    Definitely anything can happen in the NHL these days as even the bottom teams can remain in playoff races with all the loser points available and whatnot. I would say that everything has to go right for us to make the playoffs though, because so many teams are desperate to make the playoffs, they will do whatever it takes to get the team in. If we’re already talking about how we don’t have good enough faceoff guys this early in the season, and not feeling confident that management will address that, its not a great sign. Now, most other teams in the same situation would make moves to bolster their rosters and we won’t. So, its gotta work out for us the way things are, or it won’t.

  14. chucker says:

    Racki: Yah I agree with that, Mr. M. It also goes back to your statement in the other discussion about management knowing who the core guys are too. These guys are really important, but I wouldn’t consider them the core at all. To save money, we’d want the cheapest guy available who can get the job done.. and these guys usually don’t sign for that high a price tag.I will say though, I’m still one of the delusional folks that thinks this team still has a shot at the playoffs. Or at the very least, it’s still too big of an unknown not to at least give it your best shot. I’ve never been a fan of writing the season off before it’s really starter. There should be a cut-off point where you figure out if your team has a chance (trade deadline has always been that for teams), but this is too early. So they basically have to give it an honest effort. I think the role player and shutdown D would give us a good boost in the right direction.

    Yeah, I’m fully on board with this. Like Racki, I’ve been saying this for a while now too. These guys are available every single off season as FA’s. Sign them, they come cheap and you can always trade them at the deadline for picks if you’re not in the hunt. It serves two purposes.

    1, you keep your team salary low and the team competative.

    2, it’ a great way to get “free” bottom end draft picks if you can trade them at the deadline.

    Having said that, we’ve made a couple glaring mistakes with guys who we had that were really good bottom six guys. Brodziak and Glenncross specifically, but if you’re looking at the salary end of it, perhaps not as good of deals as one would find on the market.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Panorama Theme by Themocracy

%d bloggers like this: