Analysis: Does Winning Faceoffs Matter?
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
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
The Stars made the playoffs late in the season with 98 points.
3. 21-22 FO Win of 54.2% - Boston Bruins
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
The Canes exploded into prominence grabbing 116 pts and 54 wins.
5. 21-22 FO Win of 52.2% - Los Angeles Kings
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:
Top 5 Teams: Made Playoffs 3/5, Bottom 5 Teams: Made Playoffs 1/5
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.