Islanders faceoffs: Postively not great

The Forechecker is rocking the NHL faceoff data to produce a great chart -- with colors! -- showing how NHL teams perform on faceoffs in each situation: PP, even strength, PK.

The Islanders aren't great overall (48.1%, 26th), and they're well below the median in all three categories. Ahem: Mr. Weight (46.3%), Mr. Bailey (39.6%), please report to the coach's office. This is bound to change some now that Mike Sillinger is back -- particularly the Isles' shorthanded faceoff success, which is a pretty poor 41.8%.

(Note that shorthanded faceoff success is lower than the other situations leaguewide: When shorthanded, there are fewer teammates to help "win" the puck, and teammates may be more conservative about pushing forward for 50/50 pucks. But even with that caveat, the Isles' PK faceoff percentage is still really low.)

Faceoff data is funny. It's a mythical world where winning obviously helps, but by how much? And how much does it vary by situation? As this great Rocky Mountain News feature with player insight suggests, faceoff success is often dependent on all five (or four) skaters on the ice. And winning faceoffs does not equal being a better team. Or even a great PK unit. But in each case, you intuitively know it helps.

Smart faceoffs, which is subjective, may be more important: For example, if you're facing the same guy all night, you may sacrifice a few low-priority faceoffs here and there to save your best tricks for the most situationally critical moments.

There's no "win share"-like figure on how important a faceoff win is, partly because ofthe subjective variables mentioned above. A faceoff "win" may be no good if the regular winger you win the puck to coughs it up. (And is a "win" affected by the scorekeeper, too? And consequently the center's faceoff reputation?)

We just know that generally with faceoffs 'tis better to receive than to give. Which makes data like this really fun to wade into.

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