The Colorado Avalanche need to put a little focus onto winning more faceoffs to help their overall chances of winning hockey games.
The Colorado Avalanche don’t win a lot of faceoffs. They are, in fact, dead last in the NHL with 46.6%.
Yes. In 2016-17, the Avalanche were #2 in the NHL for faceoffs with 53.6%. That was the 48-Point Why Us season.
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Yes. In 2017-18, the Avalanche were dead last in the NHL for faceoffs with 44.2%. They made the playoffs.
Yes. Players like Auston Matthews only win 45.3% of his faceoffs yet he has a 51.5% CorsiFor while Ben Smith wins 51.8% and has a 41.5% CorsiFor.
Faceoffs don’t win hockey games. Blah-blah-blah. I ate a tuna fish sandwich for lunch then I got in a car accident — doesn’t mean eating tuna fish causes car accidents. Losing faceoffs doesn’t win hockey games, but some people act like it’s almost better to lose in the faceoff dot.
Personally, I find it frustrating to watch the two players get down into the faceoff dot and to, time and again, see the Avalanche come away without possession. To watch them scramble to regain possession while the opponent team skates around them in circles.
And I find it especially irritating when the Colorado Avalanche lose games because of lost faceoffs — or, at least, there’s a clearer correlation between faceoff loss and game loss.
For example, last night the Avs lost a 6-3 game to the Pittsburgh Penguins. They won 44% of their faceoffs. No, the two aren’t directly related. However, the second goal of the game came almost right after the faceoff:
And it’s clear that the Pittsburgh Penguins only had the possession to make that fast play because they’d won the faceoff. No, these plays, scoring almost right off the faceoff, don’t happen that often, but they do happen.
Faceoffs are especially imperative in the overtime. When you’re playing three-on-three hockey, possession is everything. Possession is yours to lose if you win the faceoff.
In the game against the St. Louis Blues, the Colorado Avalanche didn’t win a single faceoff in overtime. They also didn’t record a single shot in overtime. Meanwhile, the Blues won three faceoffs and scored the game-winning goal on one of their two shots.
So, what are you going to believe — the stats or the anecdotes? Both. Hockey is comprised of both.
To me, winning faceoffs is a little like overtime. It shouldn’t be a main focus of your practices. However, it’s a hockey skill, same as all the other little skills that go into making the whole player.
I’ve seen players practice specific shots and even skating techniques in practice. Working on faceoffs shouldn’t be any different. Improving accuracy in the faceoff dot shouldn’t be a main focus area for the Colorado Avalanche. However, it should be a minor one.