Winning Face Offs, Winning Games

December 3, 2011, by

Last season, the Rangers were one of the worst teams in the league at taking face offs. In fact, they were in the bottom five of the league, winning less than 50% of their face offs (47.7%). This year, the Rangers are in the top ten in face offs, winning 51.2% thus far. Face off wins lead to more puck possession, less play in your end, and more offensive chances. These wins mean even more on special teams.

The addition of Brad Richards to the Rangers this year has significant helped in the face off circle, where he leads the team with a 54.1% win rate. Brian Boyle (53.1%) and Brandon Dubinsky (52.1%) are the other Rangers over 50% on draws. Comparing this to last year, only Dubinsky was above 50% among the regular face off takers.

While adding Richards has been an incredible help in the circle, one cannot overlook the improvement that Brian Boyle has made in the dot. Last year Boyle’s face off percentage was just 48.5%, meaning he has increased his winning percentage by just under 5%…no small feat there. The consistency of Dubinsky and the addition of Richards compounds this, and the Rangers have become one of the best face off teams in the league.

Even Derek Stepan, who won just 38.5% of his face offs last year, has shown significant improvement in this area. Sure Stepan is still way under 50% (43.8%), but improvement is improvement, and this is another 5% uptick in efficiency on the draw. Even Artem Anisimov (44.5% last year, 47.7% this year) has shown improvement.

With such a young team, all anyone can ask for is improvement from the kids, and consistency from the veterans. Richards and Dubinsky have been providing that consistency, while the kids are getting better and better. Regression to the mean is possible for Boyle, and it is unlikely that he can maintain his 53% win rate, but even if he drops to 50%, it’s still an upgrade from last year.

As the Rangers enter a much more difficult schedule, winning face offs is going to become even more crucial. The majority of the teams they will face in their upcoming eight game stretch┬áhave very potent offenses that can make the Rangers pay if given too many opportunities. Puck possession limits those opportunities, and winning face offs is a critical component of puck possession. Such a small aspect of the game plays such a large role, it’s the beauty of the sport.

Categories : Analysis


  1. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Excellent write up, winning face offs is one of the most under appreciated and over looked stats for a center. Winning faceoffs is important and a major aspect for a centerman’s play. Winning faceoffs leads to good things

  2. bob says:

    You ain’t kidding Dave.I remember so many defensive face-off last year that,bing bang its in our net.We were terrible last year.With the addition of Richards and every center dropping down a spot has really helped our game.Boyle has really been great of late.I think he was over 70% in the Carolina game.

  3. mhurley says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more about the importance of faceoffs. As I pointed out in my blog entry after the Penguin game, the Rangers won an astounding 70% of the faceoffs. Against the Penguins! IMO it was the key to the game. That and the Rangers outhit them 43 to 23.

  4. Evan Xenopoulos says:

    Where did you guys find that face off information? I have been looking all over for team face off information but I am only finding individual face off statistics.


    • Dave says:

      NHL Stats page.

      • Evan Xenopoulos says:

        I have been on the NHL stats page and it only gives information for each individual player. I am trying to find team information for face off success rates. Maybe i am missing it. Thanks

    • mhurley says:

      Go to the Ranger website. On the right hand side of the page they show last game/next game. Click on last game. Where it says in little black boxes:


      Click on stats, then event summary. The last three columns show FW FL and F% by player.

      Also, there is a drop down for Faceoff Comparison for each Ranger player vs who they faced off against on the opposing team.

  5. The Suit says:

    Excellent post Dave. Face-offs certainly fly under the radar in terms of stats and it is such a crucial part of the game. Seems like only yesterday people were doubting Stepan and Arty’s chances of progressing on the draw. Glad it’s working out.

  6. Walt says:

    Over the years, how many faceoffs lead to goals against us?

    I believe that with the winning of the faceoffs, that reduces pressure on our goalies, when taken in our defensive zone. Good information, thanks for keeping us up to date on this type of material!