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Monday, September 12, 2011

Hockey Faceoff 101


I think its time to head back to school, faceoff school! How many years are the Edmonton Oilers going to take to fix this problem? I know, I know. We all have heard it a million times. We have discussed it a million times. Question is, when will it start changing? Maybe the problem is, they are not sure what a hockey faceoff is. Let's see...hmm..I got it!

Wikipedia: Hockey faceoff
"When two teams line up in opposition to each other, and the opposing centres attempt to gain control of the puck after it is dropped between their sticks by an official."

Not sure the definition will help the Oilers either. I do have another thought however. What if they were to learn from some of the best in the business?  The Washington Capitals center David Steckel has won 64.5% of his faceoffs a year ago ; no one has finished the season with a percentage that high since the NHL lockout in 2004-05. Center Boyd Gordon was 58% with Washington as well. Those are some high numbers. In fact because I care so much, I personally went out and had the faceoff teaching from these fabulous faceoff players brought to the Oilers via our website here at

Here is the Video:

On second thought, maybe this may be a little too complicated at this point in time. Maybe we could start smaller? Perhaps it is possible to start by learning the art of winning a faceoff in "Air Hockey" first. After all you know what they say (practice makes perfect)

 If worse comes to worse, we could always considering paying off the referee's to drop the puck a little more to our side.

ok, enough with the stupid talk. I know the Edmonton Oilers work on their faceoffs in practice. They take the centers and work on techniques and drills several times. Because we don't hear of the Oilers doing this in practice, it would be ignorant of us to believe they wouldn't take time to hone this part of their game. In  fact during their 2011 Development Camp in July, I personally sat and watched Coach Sillinger working on faceoffs with Lander, Nugent-Hopkins and Pitlick.

What was sweet, was to see RNH put those new skills into practice in the World Jr development camp, red and white scrimmage games. In fact Nugent-Hopkins won 75% of his faceoffs the first game in Edmonton and about 60% the next night. His main opponents were Ryan Johanson and Ryan Strome. They may not be veterans but they are known to be pretty decent faceoff guys.

I was pretty excited to see this. I knew RNH was average in the WHL playoffs, but I held out hope. I knew Lander (thanks to Lowetide) was averaging almost 50% against men in the SEL. So to say last night's rookie game caused some disappointment is a understatement. I recorded as best as I could, faceoff winning percentage by player. I thought the Oilers website would have this statistic, so decided to stop following by the 50 minute mark of the game. Turns out, they didn't record FO%. My statistic may be off a 2% but is pretty accurate. I found the following for faceoff % by individual player.

Ryan Martindale 50% 
(He started by winning 25%  in first half but then won 75% the last half )

Anton Lander 50%
(was pretty consistant by winning a couple, then losing a couple)

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 40%
(went 4 for 6 at start but then started losing most the draws)

I know this can be worked on, but Lander is considered good at faceoffs and 50% is not good against a rookie team from Vancouver. Martindale got stronger as the game went on. RNH was a concern for me. Maybe there was other factors in play, I am not sure. All I know is, RNH will need to be better should he actually be considered a possibility to play the year with the Edmonton Oilers. This is a huge concern (faceoffs) with the veterans on the team already, the last thing we need is to have a development system that is weak in this department as well.

Is there cause for alarm? I doubt it. I am probably just over reacting as most of us fans do. After all, I can't see the Oilers sitting still and not helping improve the development of their players in this area of weakness. Everything I said earlier was just in good humour but you have to be praying this will be a area that is addressed soon, and sooner then later.

In the meantime I will be watching Tuesday night's game in anticipation of seeing the Oilers FO% improving, even if by 3%. That all being said, still pumped for another Oilers game. My prediction is a closer tilt. Maybe a 5-3 win? less then 24 hours til puck drop.

you can follow me on twitter at www.twitter/revingev

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