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The Jets aren’t so hot in the face-off circle

One of the areas of play that the Jets clearly need to improve on is their ability to win a face off. We take a look at the current winning %.

The Winnipeg Jets are struggling, posting a 1-4-1 record in the first six games.  One area that the team has not performed particularly well in is in the face-off circle.  Currently, the Jets rank last in the league in face off win percentage with 44.1% trailing Anaheim who is at 44.7%. Obviously, it is important for any team to win as many face-offs as possible to gain possession of the puck.

Here are the individual statistics for each player:

PlayerWL%2010-11 %
J. Slater272551.9%61.5%
N. Antropov293049.2%49.8%
B. Little516245.1%46.3%
A. Burmistrov182640.9%41.5%
M. Scheifele163233.3%
T. Stapleton2166.7%48.4%
C. Thorburn4450%49.8%
K. Wellwood2250%49.2%
A. Ladd3442.8%34.1%
E. Kane2333.3%40.6%
T. Glass1712.5%40.3%

I compared each player to last year’s number to see if there was a big disparity between the current % to last year’s numbers.

  • Jim Slater is the best face-off man on the team.  While he has posted a 51.9% in six games this season, last season his face-off winning percentage was tops on the team at 61.5%.
  • Bryan Little is close to last year’s number of46.3%.
  • Youngsters Mark Scheifele and Alex Burmistrov have not fared well in the face-off circle this season, which could be the reason for Nik Antropov switching to centre and Burmistrov taking the wing.

Game By Game Face-offs:

GameFaceoffs WonFaceoffs Lost%Game Result
Oct 9 vs. MTL313348%L 1-5
Oct 13 @ CHI243541%L 3-4
Oct 15 @ PHX233341%L 1-4
Oct 17 vs. PIT282850%W 2-1
Oct 19 vs. TOR203437%L 3-4 (SO)
Oct 20 vs. OTT283247%L 1-4

I posted the game by game face-offs to see if there has been any correlation between face-offs won and game score.  It is worth noting that the only game the Jets won was also their best game in the face-off department.  However, I don’t think we can conclude anything based on the small sample size of six games.

In the Oct 17 game vs. Pittsburgh, Bryan Little had one of his better games going 11-10 (W-L), here are his thoughts on what made him so successful that night:

“It’s kind of a weird thing faceoffs, one night you can have a good night, and the other night… I had a pretty bad night in Toronto, I was taking a lot (of faceoffs) against Steckel. I think it’s a lot to do with how you match up against a guy; some guys give you more trouble than others. For me against Pittsburgh, I was winning a lot of them, and it was coming pretty easy. Then you face a guy like Steckel who personally is my hardest guy to take them against, it’s going to be a hard night. You try and switch things up, and try different things, and it starts to get in your head a bit. It’s one of those things where one night you can be really hot, and one night you can struggle.”

Little did however go 0 for 10 against Steckel on Wednesday in Toronto although he’s not the only one who has trouble with Toronto’s newly acquired centre.  Dave Steckel lead the league in faceoff percentage last year at 62.3%

Jim Slater didn’t become a face-off leader overnight, it takes time for some of the younger players to master the art.

“It’s tough, Scheif’s (Rookie Mark Scheifele) only 18 years old, he’s young, there’s a lot of good face-off guys in this league, we’re trying to work on stuff every day after practice, little tips, it’s not going to come over night with a guy like Scheifs, he’s got to continue to work on it, it’s a big part of the game. It’s just one of those things, it’s tough, and it’s not just the centreman either you need your wingers and everyone battling for you to get those loose pucks. It’s really a 3-5 man unit on face-offs.”

While not much time is spent in practice to work on face-offs, most of the centreman always stay after to put in some extra work

“It’s usually after practice or after a pregame skate, you take about 20 to 30 face-offs against the other centreman on the team. It’s not going to happen overnight, its definitely a process for some of the young guys to learn some different skills against the other guys, but I think it’s definitely a big part of the game and something we need to improve on.”

Bryan Little continues, saying that the centremen get together and give each other scouting reports on the opposition.

 “At morning skates you practice them a bit, and go through their centreman and see what hands they are. For us, we talk with the other centremen and see what they do, and try to go into a game with a gameplan. Sometimes it’s not a good night, and sometimes it’s a good night.”

Hopefully the Jets can improve on this season’s face-off woes against Carolina on Saturday night at 6pm.