Team Faceoff Percentage since 1997-98

Something I want to make clear: several people have noted that the difference between the best faceoff teams and the worst faceoff teams isn't that large, perhaps at most three wins in a single season.  The correlation between faceoff percentage and winning percentage isn't particularly high either, and faceoffs "explain" at most 10% of winning.  So does this mean that faceoffs aren't significant?

No way.  Other than goaltender career save percentage, tell me another basic tracked statistic that predicts 10% of winning and represents a true talent that doesn't regress very heavily to the mean.  Hits?  Nope, zero correlation with winning.  Giveaways, takeaways - not so much.  PP% and PK%?  Huge regression to the mean.  Shots for and shots against?  They're not basic statistics - they're driven by other more basic events on the ice that we don't track.

As we try to figure out what players are worth, we're going to need to collect a lot more real-time data.  There are a great many significant things that don't make a 3-win difference in hockey; we shouldn't ignore them.

***

It's quite clear that there are some organizations in the NHL that care about faceoffs, and some that don't.  Detroit obviously does - they have the highest winning percentage since the league started keeping stats, and they're the only team to win more than 50% of their faceoffs every season for the last 12 years.  Some of that is good luck: the star players they've drafted also happen to be great faceoff takers, unlike Pittsburgh, for example, who have two terrible faceoff men in Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin.  But some of that is clear strategy: after Todd McLellan took over the San Jose Sharks coaching job, San Jose's faceoff percentage jumped to be tops in the league.

Here are the team faceoff percentages since 1997-98:

Team WPCT MAX MIN >=50% YRS
DET 52.6 54.5 50.1 12 12
WAS 51.9 55.4 48.8 10 12
CAR 51.5 55.8 48.5 8 12
DAL 51.4 55.4 47.8 9 12
ANA 50.9 55.5 48.2 7 12
TOR 50.9 52.9 49.7 9 12
NYR 50.8 53.8 47.7 8 12
STL 50.8 52.2 48.8 9 12
PHI 50.7 54.9 47.1 6 12
BOS 50.6 53.2 48.4 7 12
MON 50.5 53.4 48.9 4 12
LOS 50.2 52.4 47.2 7 12
EDM 50.1 54.1 46.1 7 12
VAN 50.1 52.0 46.8 7 12
NJD 50.1 52.1 48.2 7 12
NAS 50.1 53.7 46.8 5 11
SAN 50.0 55.5 47.7 5 12
CAL 49.9 53.5 46.2 7 12
CLB 49.8 52.7 47.6 5 9
NYI 49.6 52.2 45.8 5 12
CHI 49.5 51.7 46.8 5 12
PHO 49.4 53.4 45.4 5 12
OTT 49.2 52.2 47.1 4 12
COL 49.2 51.8 47.0 4 12
ATL 48.9 53.6 46.2 5 10
BUF 48.7 50.6 47.1 3 12
TAM 48.5 51.9 44.8 4 12
PIT 47.9 49.7 46.0 0 12
MIN 47.9 52.6 45.8 1 9
FLO 47.6 51.0 45.1 2 12



I'm surprised that Minnesota's as bad as they are - they were run by defense-first coach Jacques Lemaire for their first eight seasons, and it's only this year that they've won more than half of their faceoffs.  You'd think winning faceoffs would make playing defense easier.

The number 1 and 2 teams since the lockout are predictable, but after that, it's a bit of a free-for-all of good and bad teams:

 

Team WPCT
DET 53.1
SAN 51.8
ATL 51.8
NAS 51.7
BOS 51.0
CLB 50.9
WAS 50.9
OTT 50.8
TOR 50.7
CAR 50.6
ANA 50.6
NYR 50.3
STL 50.2
EDM 50.1
TAM 50.0
VAN 49.9
MON 49.9
CAL 49.8
NJD 49.6
DAL 49.5
PHO 49.4
FLO 49.3
CHI 49.1
LOS 49.1
NYI 48.9
PHI 48.7
BUF 48.6
MIN 48.5
COL 48.1
PIT 47.5

 

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