Should the Rangers add a faceoff coach?

kevin hayes

The 2017 season is right around the corner, and as the World Cup of Hockey begins we will finally have something new to talk about in regards to hockey. This comes right on time as I am absolutely drained of any ideas after this one for the near future.

While many of us are certainly intrigued at how the forward depth will shape up for the New York Rangers post training camp, many more fans are eager to see what move GM Jeff Gorton may have in play to fix up the defense. It has been a long anticipated move, combining the rumors on Kevin Shattenkirk, the “guaranteed” Rick Nash trade, young defensemen remaining unsigned, and that the Rangers seem to do their business in the shadows with moves nobody sees coming (I love you Brassard, stay golden). In any case, there are a lot of factors surrounding the Rangers, but sometimes there are management and advisory roles that need to be filled as well.

This idea came to me early yesterday afternoon after the Vancouver Canucks hired former first round pick Manny Malhotra to be part of the coaching staff. Other than being an overall good teammate, one of Malhotra’s greatest talents in the NHL –aside from his two way play– was his prowess on faceoffs. It was one of the major reasons why Malholtra was hired.

While I would argue that faceoffs are perhaps overrated by some, there definitely is more to it. A good briefer on why faceoffs may simply not be as important as we used to make it out to be can be found here by Dom Luszczyszyn, and the most resounding line of the small article is right in the beginning.

“If you’re great at faceoffs, but are constantly hemmed in your own zone because you can’t get the puck out reliably, do the faceoff wins really matter?” 

The conclusion is that faceoffs don’t directly correlate to great defensive play, being good at faceoffs doesn’t automatically make you a wonderful two-way player, and that the opposite applies as well. What happens after the faceoff is much more important than the puck drop itself.

That said, nobody can deny it is better to be good at faceoffs than not, even if the impact is minimal. Through this summer the Rangers lost Dominic Moore and Derick Brassard, two of their top faceoff men. Oscar Lindberg has a history as a faceoff ace in Sweden. Similarly Josh Jooris, who is one of my favorite signings of this summer, was solid on faceoffs as a rookie. His wrist injury last year hurt his effectiveness in the dot last season, though.

Derek Stepan is an interesting case, as I would argue he is one of the team’s best defensive players and the all around ace. But he stinks in the faceoff dot. Similarly Kevin Hayes has had faceoff struggles used against him, and at times it was used as an example for his laziness and overall “bad play” last year, without factoring that most young players don’t do well on faceoffs right away.

Which brings me to the title of this post: Perhaps the Rangers should be looking at hiring a faceoff specialist to help. There are so many ways to win faceoffs, and perhaps the team can benefit from a faceoff kingpin teaching all of the different strategies. It’s a better strategy than signing someone like Jarret Stoll, who offers faceoff success and nothing else. I’d certainly entertain the idea of hiring someone like Paul Gaustad for this role.

In any case, the season is almost here, what do you think the Rangerscan do to improve on faceoffs? Or do you simply not care about them?

By the way, the best in depth faceoff site on the internet is

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    • If Stepan were the weak link in the circles, I would argue the Rangers are fine. Zibanejad is as good or better than Brassard and as noted with the depth added this summer, Dzone draws should be covered by Jooris or Lindberg at some point (we’ll cross that bridge when Lindberg is ready to join the lineup).

      The issue is Hayes. If he were just 10% better at draws, I would be fine. After all 6 out of 10 of them are in the attacking zone, if not more like 7. He can help by getting himself a Faceoff coach for himself. He is the weak link.

      • They have a guy by the name of Benoit Allaire, regarded as one of the best in the game. You know, kinda like how Hank is regarded as one of the best goalies in the game. But yeah, by all means, let’s continue to demand Hank be perfect at all aspects. SMH. Most goalies have flaws, stick handling is one of the least meaningful skills and rebound control, well, maybe if the defense was a bit more heady and actually on their man, not all of those rebounds would be so dangerous.

    • This is a philosophical problem not a a talent one. PP will not get more productive until they put both guys on the point to their off hands. Quick release with better geometry makes it tough for the goalie to get square and control rebound.

      PK last year mostly was down to the loss of Nashvand Brian Boyle with no wingspan guys to cover the point.

    • Funny you mention that. I was just thinking about that not 10 mins before coming across this comment Sal. Adding 2 special teams coaches would allow the assistants to focus on their respective duties. Scott Arneil has to work on the PP which involves defenseman and Beukeboom will have the PK which includes forwards. It’s sounds like the Nazis chain of command in WW11 (bad joke but I’m a WW2 buff, look it up).

      Hire a Faceoff coach and maybe the team can get back to the 50% mark as a team overall. PP & PK coaches woukd only help as well. Faceoffs on the PP are a pretty big issue for the Rangers. Draws in the attacking zone usually have the oppositions best Faceoff man to draw against. Hard to win those when Kevin Hayes is pitted against him and his 35% success rate. That has to improve.

  • Original Rob’s the man for this position.

    Nonetheless, speaking as His Agent/bail bondsman he won’t come cheap.

    Hey, anyone here visiting Lake George, stop by the general store on the shore’s southwest end.

    The engaging 50ish gent who owns it is one of ours: I caught him last week standing outside, rocking an “I am a Ranger” T-shirt. His folksy bait ‘n beer shop is a chockablock of Blueshirt memorabilia, though conspicuously absent a shrine to Nicky Fotiu. Major oversight.

    • I thought I saw the same guy eating ice cream at Stewart’s just a few miles down the road from there/ Looked like he was chomping on something called tin roof and humming the “Potvin Sux” song. Could that have been him? Look, I could have been delusional, as I just got off of the roller coaster for the 7th time.

      • Believe that’s him, Sal. This same Rangerphile also smokes a Slats-like cigar.

        Did you get on the water, Sal?

        Local cops said Swarty was buzzbombing some of the public beaches, nude, on his Jet-Ski. Complete horror-show.

        • I saw some guy, with a glazed look in his eyes buzz by me in my row boat while I was trying to catch trout (translation – drink beer). There was so much white water he cudda been nekkid, all I knew was that he knocked over a damn near full can of Pabst Blue Ribbon -MY LAST CAN! I had to row all the way to shore and get some rinky dink Budweiser.

          Then I went back to town and posed for an old tyme photo. I asked the guy to make it look like 1940 and he didn’t have a clue why.

        • It was a horror show Fotiu. But what d’ya think was gonna happen after you cubed me with those shroomers?

          • “Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas … with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether.”

            —Hunter S. Thompson

            (Or jump on Swarty’s Jet-Ski, shroomin’)

    • Fotiu, no shrine to Nicky??, OUTRAGE!!!, the guy single handily stopped the bulling of the team, the moment he put on the Jersey. Their should be a bronze statue of him, in front of the Garden. I remember reading the Dave Schultz book “The Hammer ” this was a few years after the Dale Rolfe incident ( beating) , Schultz might have moved on from Philly??, Nicky’s 1st year. He was well aware Nicky was on the ice, knew his reputation, probably looking to deliver payback , He said he saw Nicky coming down the ice, like a heat seeking missile, I wanted no part of him !!!! Avoided him like the plague!!, CLASSIC!

      • God bless, Fotiu; God bless, Bobby B. (And The Undertaker.)

        Man, now I wanna queue up some classic 70s Ranger games, Bob.

        Inasmuch, the new NHL cable-streaming package jettisoned their Classic/Flashback or Vault category. Same by you?

        • I am all in, another Ranger from that era who could really throw them , but did not like too was Steve Vickers ( Sarge ) could handle himself. See his classic one punch KO of the Bruins Don Marcotte, goggle it. I have it on good authority from someone who knows Vickers well, that when Fred Shero was hired as coach that he approached Vickers to pattern his game more towards the Flyer style, FIGHT MORE!, Steve told him that was not his style.

  • can’t hurt…it’s not like we are in the top half of the league on face offs and the cost won’t go against the cap so bring it on…

    Agree that what you do after the face off is very important(maybe more than winning them), but, not winning faces offs makes that a mute point…

  • Definitely can use some help in this area. And I believe we already have him on the payroll. If my memory serves me, wasn’t Adam Graves a pretty good faceoff man.

  • I’ve been wanting a face-off coach for years! This team has struggled with face offs for years. A coach is long over due! There are a lot of ex-Rangers who can fill their needs, lets hope they hire someone.

    I hope many of you are emailing MSG about getting us a summer show in the off season. If enough of us complain we just might get what we Ranger fans deserve!

  • Everyone differs on how important the face offs are. Remember Stephan’s O.T. goal against Washington. A face off win set that up!

    • Winning face-offs may not be important, but I’d like to see more granular data before I commit to an opinion. Winning a face-off cleanly seems to me to be a much bigger advantage than winning one in a scrum. A clean win on the PP or PK can give your team the puck with room to work at a critical juncture in the game.

      To answer one question with another:
      “If you’re great at faceoffs, but are constantly hemmed in your own zone because you can’t get the puck out reliably, do the faceoff wins really matter?”

      If your opponent is forechecking well and keeping you hemmed in your own end, would you rather have the puck with a chance to clear the zone or be defending as soon as the puck is dropped?

    • And conversely, remember Step himself losing a draw cleanly vs NYI that led to a Clutterbuck goal? Embarrassingly ugly.

  • Don’t you remember a few seasons ago when Torts brought Mess out to training camp to work on faceoffs with the team. Gutsy move by Torts there. Mess worked with Stepan but from what I could see, it didn’t really translate. I don’t see the need for a full-time faceoff coach. Bringing someone in during TC would be OK though. Just watched the third period of the Czech-Russia game. The Russians should make the WCOH finals, probably against Canada. The Czech D is a real weak spot for them.

    • Mess couldn’t help Stepan because Stepan is UNTEACHABLE! He will only do things his way. Bringing Mess (or Graves or even Mike Gartner) back would be a nice gesture, but the team needs an open mind towards listening and learning. Hopefully they would be open to that.

      • Ridiculous comment about Stepan. The guy is clearly a coachable player, he’s been relied upon as part of his various teams’ leadership groups since his college days.

        Regarding bringing back out-of-touch old-timers–the Rangers used to serve as a pre-retirement last big payday for over the hill players, they don’t need to collect dead wood in the front office now either. What the heck could Gartner teach anyway? How to underachieve in the playoffs after scoring 40+ in the regular season? The Rangers already have Rick Nash to instruct teammates on how to disappear in the most important time of the season….

        • Woe! A blast of trenchant, well crafted analysis.

          Push to shove, I also dig the snarky broadside at Nash. Welcome.

          Now why don’t you remind our shadow GM/Richter he’s got business. Get Nash moved for a puck moving D-man and one seriously nasty forward?

  • Face off wins correlate to possession, which correlates to scoring chances. If you are positive in your win % yet are net- in possession, what does it tell you? You’re on a bad team.

    If I’m a pro trying to get better, I’m at a camp in the offseason or bringing in a consultant.

    On a team level, being bad on D zone draws wasn’t a problem when we had guys who could cover the point quickly (something lacking last season.)

    • Faceoffs actually do not correlate to possession or scoring chances at even strength. There have been many published pieces stating this.

      That said, special teams faceoffs do hold more relevance overall.

        • I actually promised myself to stay as far away from these metric discussions as possible but I have to chime in. You are totally right Reenavipul! When a puck is dropped to establish possession and a stat that is based on possession refuses to acknowledge the impact of winning a draw and gaining possession…….. it’s kind of like watching a pie eating contest and all they are serving is meatloaf………. just makes absolutely no sense

      • It baffles me that FancyStats folks rave about possession, yet seem to think that the one play that helps establish possession immediately is somehow unimportant.

    • Other than periodic PR and 94 retro events, Mark has completely distanced himself from anything to do with the Ranger organization. And rightly so. You can thank Glen Sather for that.

  • I think the Rangers should give the moose a call and ask him to give the kids a few lessons on taking draws. Kevin Hayes could use some pointers on how to use his size to his advantage and bully his opposite.

  • Mess works as a consultant to the Oilers now. Man, Team North America is kicking the snot out of Team Europe. Completely & utterly dominated that second period. They are way too fast & too skilled for TE. Zucchie playing with Kopitar on first line. He’s playing well but Kopitar is not. Zucchie saved a goal by hassling McDavid on a breakaway. Zdeno Chara has been dreadful, stick a fork in him he’s done. JT hasn’t had a lot of ice time and he looks like he needs to get his legs under him. Team Europe is the worst team I’ve seen so far.

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