A Note on Faceoffs


I think the Philadelphia Flyers are bad in the faceoff circle.

On Saturday, I watched on television as they allowed two goals off the draw to the Penguins in a 3-1 loss. The next day, I was sitting in the press box when the Sabres won a power play faceoff against those same Flyers. Once again, the faceoff win was clean. Later that shift, Steve Ott scored on a one-timer and the Sabres had the early lead.

So yeah, the Flyers must be bad at faceoffs.

Some quick math on their faceoff numbers tells me they are 44.961 percent from the circle so far. Not exactly great. Belief confirmed, right? Well, on Monday night against Toronto the Sabres went 19 of 64 at the dot. That’s 30 percent. Care to do the math and see what they’ve done this season? let’s see… divide by 131… 41.984 percent?


Two games into a season of 48, I happen to think the Buffalo Sabres can be pretty good. There’s potential on this team and the team’s top line of Thomas Vanek, Cody Hodgson and Jason Pominville has looked excellent. A 2-0 start is enough reason to have cautious optimism because there are less changes to get points this year and the Sabres have maximized point potential. Or something.

As young sports fans in the era of advanced statistics, we’re fascinated with the term “sample size.” We want enough evidence to make smart determinations about what we think. We want numbers that make sense but that offer an additional angle on what we may have already decided with our eyes.

With that in mind, I have no idea when I can make a proper decision about hockey this season. On Sunday, Ruff said it will take five or 10 games before a team’s toughness or style of play would be determined this year. Perhaps those same benchmarks can be used to decide if that same team will be any good. The fate of Mikhail Grigorenko certainly needs to be determined well before then. Maybe they’ll be better at faceoffs by then, too.

We all use different things to make up our minds. I like that Thomas Vanek is playing well. I like that Marcus Foligno is willing to fight people. I think Miller is ready for a big season. I think the Sabres could be good, but it’s something I thought well before puck drop on Sunday afternoon. I think there’s certainly reason to be optimistic and a lot of reasons—at least 46 of them—to be wary.

Two wins in two games is easy to get excited about, but I’m definitely more interested in watching more than I am making decisions based on what I’ve already seen.

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  1. By Deep Breaths | Shutdown Pair January 23, 2013 at 9:31 AM