I’m writing a broader PK post that tries to nail down the cost of a lost faceoff but it’s some involved shit. The actual reasoning is pretty easy and straightforward; it’s the data manipulation that’s pure hell. I want to clean it up a little bit before I post it. So, for now, I present the following:
Some general information about defensive zone PK faceoffs (which are, of course, the same thing as offensive zone PP faceoffs): On average, teams had 391 faceoffs in the offensive zone while on the PP and 391 faceoffs in the defensive zone while on the PK. The team on the PP succeeded at a 55.5% clip and the team on the PK succeeded at a 44.5% clip.
Carolina led the league in PP faceoffs in the offensive zone with 489 while Boston finished last with 326. The spread, therefore, was 163 faceoffs. With respect to shorthanded faceoffs in the defensive zone, Philadelphia had the most, at 455, and San Jose the fewest at 312. The spread was 143.
With respect to success rates, Chicago was the best in the league at winning offensive zone faceoffs on the PP, doing so at a 63.1% rate. Nashville was the worst, winning just 45.5% of their offensive zone faceoffs when they enjoyed the man advantage. That’s a spread of 17.6% from best to worst. On the PK side of things, Detroit had the best winning percentage on defensive zone faceoffs when they were shorthanded, at 56.1%. Phoenix was the worst, at 37.1%. That’s a spread of 19.0%.
I’ve got some evidence to suggest that winning a faceoff in the defensive zone is a pretty big deal, which I’ll get into down the road. The problem, as I see it, is that the spread between the good and the bad is too small to amount to much. While 19% is a huge difference, the real difference to me looks to have been more like about 12% between best and worst – Detroit is just on a completely different planet at 56.1%, with the next best team at 49.5%. Over 391 faceoffs, there’s something like 45 lost own zone draws between a team at 49.5% and a team at 38ish% over the course of a season. That might be significant but I suspect when I really drill into things I’ll find that being an atrocious faceoff team on the PK will cost you, at the absolute top end, a win over the course of a season. I suspect that it’s probably more like half a win but we’ll see.
As a complete aside, I’ve always found it to be a bit nuts when you read stories about NFL coaches working 19 hours a day. The more I look at this sort of stuff, the more that I can see how it happens. If I was employed by an NHL team, I’d want to know everything that there is to know about what Detroit was doing on PK faceoffs last season. They’re kicking ass in this department again this year, winning 53.8% of their draws on the PK. Maybe Draper, Datsyuk and Zetterberg are just the best in the word at winning PK faceoffs; maybe the Wings do something to help them out.