Back when Sidney Crosby first broke into the league, his one glaring flaw was faceoffs. He finished with a very sub-par 45.5%, and it was the always the first thing people would bring up when critiquing the young superstar. During the offseason, he put some work into it, and Sid more or less broke even in 06-07 with a 49.8% on the dot. Following that, he recorded a 51.4%, and he's been staying north of 50% ever since. It was a bit of a growing process for Crosby, but he was extremely vocal about his desire to improve his main "weakness," and it didn't take more than a year or two for his efforts to bear fruit. While he's just a tick below that mark so far this year, don't be surprised to see Crosby end up well in the black once again.
Okay, that's enough about Sidney Crosby and faceoffs, because two things: 1) He's amazing at hockey, yada yada yada. You know this. 2) Faceoffs aren't really that important. They're like hits or fights in that their perceived value is exorbitantly greater than their actual measurable value. Of course, faceoffs (sure, and hits) could still have value we have yet to discover, but it's something we need to keep in mind.
I bring this all up to adequately launch into a topic Mike Heika mentioned yesterday which has bugged me for a while now. If you read the title of this post, then this is not a surprise to you: Tyler Seguin is getting pretty good at faceoffs, which is good because everyone used to be all annoyed at him for not being instantly great at them.
Heading into Thursday’s game against the Predators, Seguin had won 63.9 percent of his draws over the previous seven games (46-of-72). That pushed his season winning percentage from 46.8 percent to 51.2 percent on 279 draws. While that’s impressive, consider the fact that Seguin won just 41.5 percent of 677 faceoffs last season, and something really has changed in his game.
"I’ve been doing my homework, and a lot of it is just repetition and working hard," Seguin said. "The rest is just experience and getting into a rhythm."
Teammate Jason Spezza, who has routinely been one of the better faceoff men in the NHL and currently touts a team-best 54.4 percent success rate, said volume is a key to getting better.
"It’s like anything, when you do it a lot, you are going to improve," Spezza said. "You get two or three in a game, and there’s no flow. You get 10 or 15 every game, and you just start feeling it." [DMN]
Yes, it's still early, and Seguin's numbers are probably going to bounce around a bit more before coming to rest, but I don't think the Crosby comparison is an unfair one, for once. It took Sid a couple of years against NHL competition before he started to really hold his own; Seguin is also in just his second year as a center, and I would remind you that he hasn't been taking faceoffs all the time this year (or last year). But as much as Seguin's willingness to commit to team defense shows what kind of a leader he is on this squad, I think you can look at a little counting stat like faceoffs to see just how much Seguin cares about getting better. He isn't going to coast on the far blue line when he's needed back home, and he's not the type of guy who can just be "good enough" at starting the shift with the puck. He's going to keep pushing himself to get better, and I have a hunch faceoffs are going to be only one of many giant steps we remember when we look back on Tyler Seguin's rise through the league. Goals will probably be first.
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I think they got the call right reversing the Pred's third goal, which is good. But that overtime record is pretty bad, rig- hey, wait, the powerplay is kind of even worse. Now I don't even know which one to be all flustered about. Another fine mess you've gotten me into, Stars.
Here's a recap of a game that was so good except for when it was so bad. [Stars]
Here's another recap of this game from On the Forecheck, a hockey blog. [OtF]
J.P. Parise, former North Star and father of Zach, passed away from his battle with cancer Wednesday at the age of 73. Puck Daddy has a very nice look at his life and career. [Puck Daddy]
Whom can Minnesota look to now that Darcy Kuemper has gone down with an injury? [THN]
Whiteboard Willie gave a nice interview to Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy, including stories of sushi and Austin microphones. Is that a good tease? [Puck Daddy]
This is from November, but it came to mind during the 3rd period of the Columbus game. Going into a defensive shell is a bad strategy, even if you have Officer Bob in net. [Hockey-Graphs]
Here's a cool timeline of how the hockey rink as we know it came to be over the years. I miss the old crease. [Frozen Faceoff]
This whole "tribute video" thing is really exploding league-wide, eh? Well, even the Canucks have shown themselves capable of welcoming back a banished/prodigal son. Roberto Luongo was greeted with this video in his return to B.C. last night: