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The Noon Number: Face Off... Waaay Off

A look at the Caps’ struggles in the dot

NHL: Washington Capitals at Ottawa Senators
Kuzy actually won this draw, surprisingly...
Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

46.4 - Caps’ face-off win percentage so far this season, worst in the League (Montreal is second-worst at 47.6 percent).

But wait, there’s less! Since November 24, that rate dips to 43.6 percent. Granted, the team is 15-7-2 over that span, so always keep in mind just how indicative face-off percentage is (or isn’t) of winning.

Anyway, what’s driving the Caps’ lack of success in the dot? Well, among the 105 NHLers who have taken more than 325 draws in 2018-19, no one has a lower win percentage than Evgeny Kuznetsov’s 39.5 percent (217 wins, 333 losses; Nicklas Backstrom has won 50.4 percent of his 830 face offs, Lars Eller has won 49.1 percent of his 643, and Nic Dowd has won 49.3 percent of his 276), and the team has won just 45.4 percent of its offensive-zone draws and 44.5 percent of its face-offs on the road (both League-worsts). (Because you’re curious, Kuznetsov has won just 37.9 percent of his 87 offensive-zone draws away from Capital One Arena.)

The bottom line here is that it’s easy to overstate the importance of face-offs, generally, but they do contribute to possession and possession contributes to opportunity, so being DFL in any of these categories... well, it’s not great. And it’s not helping matters as the Caps struggle through the dog days of the season.