Improvement needed in nuanced faceoff numbers - LA Kings Insider

The Los Angeles Kings were particularly strong on faceoffs in March and April. Ranked 23rd in faceoff percentage through nine games, they leapt up to fourth in the league overall by winning 52.0% of draws through the entire regular season. St. Louis, another team with strong center depth, ranked 13th in the league with a 50.7% success rate.

The Blues have been very successful at the faceoff dot in this playoff series, limiting the Kings to a 42.9% success rate – one that was bolstered by a 28-for-57 (49%) performance in Game 3, which represented Los Angeles’ best rate in the first three games.

The numbers don’t tell the entire story, according to Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter.

“Yeah, I know you get the stat sheets and it’s always ‘This guy was five and nine’ and all that, but really when you break it all out, it’s a little different,” Sutter said following the team’s practice on Sunday. “There’s a lot of faceoffs in this series because you have 10 good centermen, really, guys that are on faceoffs out of all the forwards. There are a lot of faceoffs that are not won or lost. It’s just in the feet, and it’s someone coming in and getting the puck. It’s not the centermen. So I think that’s a big part of what goes on there.”

The contested face-off does not always produce a clean win or a clean loss. The ability for wingers to jump in and compete for a loose puck near the feet of the two centers adds a complexity to a statistic that isn’t as cut-and-dry as it seems.

“It’s a lot of helping out from wingers. I experience it firsthand,” Anze Kopitar said. “It is what it is. That’s the way the game has gone. Not just this series – I’m pretty sure it’s about the same in every series. The centermen are getting strong and everybody’s big now. It’s not easy to win draws clean.”

Wingers often communicate with their centers to determine how they’ll position themselves in the event of a contested faceoff.

“We have certain routes we take. It depends which way the puck is dropped,” Kyle Clifford said. “Sometimes it comes in behind their center, so you’re just kind of trying to make the read. Certain guys have certain positions, and it just becomes a battle.”

Clifford’s initial reaction to a faceoff is often an aggressive one.

“Some guys handle it different. I usually try and take a step towards their D-man, who I’m usually lined up against, or their winger. It depends where the draw is. Just try and eliminate him from the play to get the body position,” he said.

Playoff / regular season faceoff percentage – Los Angeles
Mike Richards – 54.0% playoffs / 49.0% regular season
Jeff Carter – 48.0% / 52.6%
Colin Fraser – 46.2% / 46.4%
Jarret Stoll – 38.3% / 56.0%
Anze Kopitar – 37.7% / 53.3%

Playoff / regular season faceoff percentage – St. Louis
Andy McDonald – 71.4% playoffs / 48.0% regular season
David Backes – 61.0% / 52.3%
Vladimir Sobotka – 59.4% / 56.5%
Chris Porter – 56.2% / 43.1%
Patrik Berglund – 40.5% / 46.3%

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Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right


Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.