“I call 24 faceoffs a night and that was the only one I got right.”
That was Sidney Crosby from a couple years back after calling a faceoff play which resulted in a goal during the Stanley Cup finals. I focus on faceoffs a lot in my job – both my own team’s and others during pre-scouting missions.
Faceoffs are a crucial component of the game, we all know that. If you don’t know what your opponent is doing on their defensive zone draws, then you might as well throw a blindfold over all your players for the few split seconds following puck drop.
But that’s the easy part. Once you adjust, your opponent will adjust. I’ve seen it happen, back and forth, like a chess match. Sure, a cool play in the offensive zone might result in a goal – might – as Sidney Crosby and the Penguins have proven.
But the real importance of faceoffs?
Simply the act of having a plan.
“The faceoff is the ultimate 1on1 battle in hockey. I’m not losing this puck.”
Todd Woodcroft is an assistant coach with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. For Woodcroft and the Jets, starting each shift with possession of the puck has been a big factor in their impressive climb up the standings this year.
Technique is clearly a crucial component of taking a faceoff. Being able to win a draw can lead to a long and productive career in the National Hockey League or any league, really. If you can skate and compete at an even level while the play is flowing, but you can add proficient faceoff prowess to your arsenal, then you’re a valuable asset to the coach.
So I’ll let Todd take you through the ins and outs of taking a faceoff. But for me, the real magic happens simply by having a plan that your players can focus on. Even when you lose a draw, having a plan organizes your players so they can react to the loss or go to the right spot on a win.
Learn more about faceoffs in the snippet below from our 2017 on-ice skills segment, and then I really encourage you to take a long look at your faceoff plan. Are your players ready for every draw?
By Tom Woodcroft
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