Ranking the Top 10 NHL faceoff specialists
Like most professional sports, possession is crucial. The more you control the puck, the greater the chances are of scoring. It's simple logic. Provided of course the team in control actually does something with it. Ottawa is leading the league in face-offs won with 1632 yet they are sixth in the Atlantic Division and in danger of missing out on a wild-card spot. Anaheim is third in face-offs won with 1600 and they sit first overall. Other than two players chopping sticks in the circle a team can also gain possession with takeaways and giveaways. This list, as the title suggests, is about the face-off.
According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary a faceoff is defined as "a method of beginning play by dropping the puck between two players".
According to the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames a faceoff is defined as "a method of beginning play with several fights leading to 200 penalty minutes at its conclusion".
For this list I have taken the following into consideration; Total number of face-offs taken, Number of face-offs won and Face-off percentage.
#10 – Anze Kopitar, LA
Kopitar is in the number ten spot because Tomas Plekanec is not worthy of it. Although Plekanec has more face-off wins(494) his percentage is below 50%. Kopitar has 478 wins out of 884 for a 54.1 percentage. He also has 54% ratings for even-strength, short-handed, home and away face-offs taken. He has won 82 out of 133 power-play face-offs for a 61 percent rating. Kopitar's career average in the circle is 50.6 percent and he has never finished a season above 53.8 so expect his numbers to decline, or at least plateau.
#9 – Jason Spezza, OTT
The Ottawa Senators captain has taken 868 faceoffs and won 479 of them, giving him a 55.2 percentage. He has won more than 50% of his face-offs at even-strength, on the power-play and the penalty-kill. Spezza is also equally impressive at home and on the road winning 55.4 and 54.9 percent respectively. The oft-injured center has only missed five games so as long as he stays healthy you can expect the same level of consistency. He is currently not performing as well as expected though, as evidenced with the 31.1% face-off percentage recently against the Rangers.
#8 – Mikko Koivu, MIN
The Wild center has a winning face-off percentage of 55.7 and also takes draws on the power-play and when short-handed. His faceoff percentage is an impressive 62.6 on the power-play and 52.7 on the penalty kill. Koivu has won 495 out of 888 face-offs and 280 of those were at home. Unfortunately he is not that great on the road as he has a 49.1 percentage winning only 215 out 438.