Remember those heady days of late October, when we were wondering what was up with the Islanders' first-month faceoff success, and Chris Botta spoke with Scott Allen about the video prep they'd been doing? Naturally, that moment of attention ended up being the high-water mark; the Isles young centermen soon regressed to the mean.
Now with a much better sample of games played, only Richard Park is above 50%, and only Park and Frans Nielsen are above 50% at even strength. (Shorthanded faceoffs are harder: You have fewer teammates to help "win" the battle, so your success rate is inevitably lower over the long haul.) The club now ranks 26th in faceoffs, at 48.1%.
Young players seldom enter the league as faceoff masters, so the hope is that John Tavares (47.0) and Josh Bailey (40.4; if he stays at center) steadily improve, and Frans Nielsen (49.9) continues his growth.
Yesterday's link to Behind the Net's list of best and worst faceoff men since 1997 reminded me how disappointing Alexei Yashin could be at the dot. His career rate from 1997-2007 (44.1%) is almost uglier when you consider he had more accomplished teammates like Mike Sillinger, Dave Scatchard and Michael Peca to take important draws. Yashin's figures were often all over the map: In 2003-04, his overall rate was a paltry 42.8% -- yet he was actually 15-8 on shorthanded draws that year. At even strength? 191-301, or 38.8%. In 2005-06, he was actually above 50% overall, though still below that mark at even strength.
After the jump, a look at the Islanders' current-year figures at PP, SH, and EV, plus links to the Islanders figures for each season going back to 1997 (viva Claude Lapointe).
2009-10 Faceoffs (72 games)
Historic Islanders Faceoff Leaders to 1997
Note: Players listed here are the most-used faceoff men that season. The link on the year goes to the NHL's list of the full roster's individual faceoff stats for the year, where you can get your Mats Lindgren and Wyatt Smith on.
1997-98: Robert Reichel, Claude Lapointe, Travis Green
1998-99: Reichel, Lapointe, Bryan Smolinski
1999-2000: Lapointe, Olli Jokinen, Tim Connolly, Dave Scatchard, Jorgen Jonsson
2000-01: Scatchard, Lapointe, Connolly, Oleg Kvasha
2001-02: Michael Peca, Lapointe, Alexei Yashin, Scatchard
2002-03: Peca, Scatchard, Yashin, Lapointe
2003-04: Peca, Scatchard, Yashin, Kvasha, Shawn Bates
2005-06: Mike York, Yashin, Bates
2006:07: Mike Sillinger -- by a long shot (1708 draws!) -- followed by Yashin (527), Randy Robitaille (519), Viktor Kozlov (462), Bates (455)
2007-08: , Josef Vasicek, Sillinger, Richard Park
2008-09: Park, Josh Bailey, Frans Nielsen, Doug Weight
2009-10: Nielsen, John Tavares, Park, Rob Schremp
One thing that stands out to me with the Islanders currently having multiple young, offensive-oriented centers: With Richard Park entering unrestricted free agency this summer, the Islanders are likely to either re-sign him, find another veteran faceoff guy, or go into next season with a lot of hope riding on the kids improving in this department.