Analysis

Analysis: Does Winning Faceoffs Matter?

St Louis Blues v Chicago Blackhawks
St Louis Blues v Chicago Blackhawks / Jeff Vinnick/GettyImages
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This morning I was looking through the league stats on Stat Muse (www.statmuse.com) and the official NHL site (www.nhl.com) and saw that the Blackhawks are still leading the league in FO (faceoff) win %. This is wonderful, it means we get the puck first and begin our attack. However, does this statistic translate into wins?

Let's begin with recent history looking at the top 5 and bottom 5 teams over the past few seasons:

1. 21-22 FO Win of 55.1% - Toronto Maple Leafs

John Tavares
Arizona Coyotes v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

Toronto finished the season with the 4th most points in the league with 115 and a tremendous point percentage of .701

2. 21-22 FO Win of 54.8% - Dallas Stars

Tyler Seguin
Dallas Stars v Philadelphia Flyers / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

The Stars made the playoffs late in the season with 98 points.

3. 21-22 FO Win of 54.2% - Boston Bruins

Patrice Bergeron
Vancouver Canucks v Boston Bruins / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

Boston had another fantastic regular season with 107pts, good for the 10th spot in the league standings.

4. 21-22 FO Win of 53.9% - Carolina Hurricanes

Sebastian Aho
Carolina Hurricanes v Calgary Flames / Leah Hennel/GettyImages

The Canes exploded into prominence grabbing 116 pts and 54 wins.

5. 21-22 FO Win of 52.2% - Los Angeles Kings

Anze Kopitar, Frederick Gaudreau
Los Angeles Kings v Minnesota Wild / David Berding/GettyImages

L.A. returned to the playoffs last season with a 99pt outing.

Top 5 FO Win % leaders summary: They all made the playoffs securing between 98 and 116 point seasons.


Ok, now let's see how the bottom 5 teams did (2/5 Made Playoffs)

1. 21-22 FO Win of 46.0 % - Buffalo Sabres (No Playoffs - 75pts)

2. 21-22 FO Win of 46.8% - New Jersey Devils (No Playoffs - 63pts)

3. 21-22 FO Win of 47.2% - Washington Capitals (Playoffs - 100pts)

4. 21-22 FO Win of 47.2% - Arizona Coyotes (No Playoffs - 57pts)

5. 21-22 FO Win of 47.3% - Colorado Avalanche (Cup Champs - 119pts)

Here are the other years numbers that I did:

20-21 Season

Top 5 Teams: Made Playoffs 3/5, Bottom 5 Teams: Made Playoffs 1/5

19-20 Season

Top 5 Teams: Made Playoffs 5/5, Bottom 5 Teams: Made Playoffs 1/5*

Overall, why I understand there are many factors, there is a pattern of success when your faceoff percentage is in the top 5 of the league. 13 of the last 15 teams to be in the top 5 made the playoffs. That's 86.7% playoff rate. On the other end, only 4 out of 15 teams made the playoffs when in the bottom 5 teams. That's only 26.7%.

Still, one of those teams (Colorado) did just win the Stanley Cup.... So take this with a huge grain of salt. Does winning faceoffs matter? Yes. Gain possession, keep the other teams best players on defense, defensive zone draw wins on PK, and a multitude of other specific instances that make this a crucial skill for NHL forwards. Is it everything? No, as evidence by teams like the Capitals and Avalanche of recent seasons.

Currently, Chicago is winning draws at a 58.7% clip. That would be the highest of any team in the last 4 seasons. Will it translate to a playoff position?

* Shortened season with extended playoff seeding, only equating into analysis for bracketed 1-8 seeds.

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