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.