Marc Crawford, upon arrival, said that the Stars were going to be aggressive; That they were going to take it to the other team and attack as a unit. They were going to be more of a possession team. Just one problem: It's hard to do any of those things when you can't win faceoffs.
Dallas finished the year in 26th place with a 48.1% winning percentage on the dot. It's an improvement over last years 47.8% (which also landed them in 26th place, so it's not actually an improvement at all.)
Since off-season boredom is already setting in, I decided to do something really nerdy and write a program to suck all 82 play-by-plays into a database so I could look at the faceoff data. NHL.com has an excellent faceoff breakdown, though they report 4,591 draws taken by Dallas, and my own findings were 4,592. The difference? A Nick Grossman faceoff loss to Joe Pavelski. I just thought you should know.
Anyway, here are the top six draw takers for Dallas broken down nearly every way I could think. Sorry, Toby Petersen didn't quite make it. If you really want to know, he won 44.4% of his 171 attempts.
Richards led the team with 1,140 faceoffs taken, and edges out Mike Modano among the "big three" in faceoffs with a 51.5% success rate.
His draws are very evenly distributed over the rink, being the center with the most minutes on the team, and playing in all situations (though taking shockingly few special teams draws). His PP draws are good, but limited. Should Modano retire, this number will skyrocket next season for Brad.
Even Strength draws: 498/993: 50.1%
Power Play draws: 43/67: 64.2%
Shorthanded Draws: 46/80: 57.5%
Total: 587/1140: 51.5%
Most victimized: Martin Hanzal - 21 wins
Defeated By: Saku Koivu - 21 losses
Most Match-ups: Martin Hanzal - 38 times
There is little doubt in Stars fans minds that draws are a weak part of Mike Ribeiro's game. Particularly troubling here is his shorthanded draws. He lost 97 out of 160 he took while on the penalty kill, most of which of course took place right in front of Marty Turco and contributed to the PK troubles the Stars had this season.
Even Strength draws: 341/737 - 46.2%
Power Play draws: 90/205 - 43.9%
Shorthanded Draws: 63/160 - 39.3%
Total: 494/1102 - 44.8%
Most Victimized: Getzlaf/Stastny - 17 wins on each
Defeated By: McClement/Handzus - 24 losses to each
Most Match-ups: Handzus - 36 times
Mike Modano's numbers get better the farther away from his own net he gets, for some reason. At 210, he took the most power play faceoffs on the team by far, winning 110 of them. He took the third most draws on the team and barely cleared 50% for the season.
His faceoffs could be missed next year, but only if Wandell cannot improve enough to meet the mediocre bar set by Mike this season. Another option is Steve Ott to replace some of the volume.
What's interesting here is that Mike only played 13 total minutes of PK this year, but took 38 shorthanded draws. Perhaps in an effort to curtail Ribeiro's failings in that area?
Even Strength draws: 300/599 - 50.0%
Power Play draws: 110/210 - 52.3%
Shorthanded Draws: 17/38 - 44.7%
Total: 427/847 - 50.4%
Most Victimized: Vernon Fiddler - 20 wins
Defeated By: Vernon Fiddler - 18 losses
Most Match-ups: You guessed it...Vernon Fiddler!
Steve Ott didn't take a ton of face offs this year (352), but was the best percentage-wise of any of the normal contributors. His face offs increased in the second half of the season as Benn was moved to center and Ott had to step in and shoulder some of the load. His sample size may be small, but it's an encouraging sign for the $3 million dollar man to go with his 20 goal season.
His number was even better (58.7%) at home.
Even Strength draws: 122/208 - 58.7%
Power Play draws: 46/72 - 63.9%
Shorthanded Draws: 32/72 - 44.4%
Total: 200/352 - 56.8%
Most Victimized: Vernon Fiddler - 8 wins
Defeated By: Lombardi - 7 losses
Most Match-ups: Damon Langkow - 13 times.
The face off dot was a brand new world for young Jamie Benn this year, and his struggles and triumphs varied from game to game as he tried to learn his new position. His small sample size makes it pretty hard to judge his season on the dot. His youth means that he can continue to improve his skills here, and we'll keep a close eye on it next season as I'm sure Marc Crawford will also do.
Even Strength draws: 100/219 - 45.6%
Power Play draws: 8/15 - 53.3%
Shorthanded Draws: 1/2 - 50%
Total: 109/236 - 46.2%
Most Victimized: Matt Duchene - 9 wins
Defeated By: Matt Duchene - 8 losses
Most Match-ups: Rookie on Rookie violence: Matt Duchene - 17 times, with Benn getting the win.
Unfortunately, Mr. Wandell has the distinction of being the worst faceoff man on the team as far as regular contributors go. He took 486 this year, winning only 44%. For a team that wants to be more of a "possession" type operation, that is not going to cut it. We wish him well in his rehab, but dude, you need to get better on the dot if you're going to take a larger role on the team. With Ribeiro and Wandell potentially taking more draws next year because of Modano's departure...it's kind of a scary proposition.
Even Strength draws: 185/404 - 45.8%
Power Play draws: 11/18 - 61.1%
Shorthanded Draws: 18/64 - 28.1% (Brutal...)
Total: 214/486 - 44%
Most Victimized: Saku Koivu - 10 wins
Defeated By: Saku Koivu - 14 losses
Most Match-ups: This battle goes to Koivu in 24 total match-ups.