Just a quick chart here, looking at how coaches used their defencemen for faceoffs.
What I did was look at each team’s defencemen who were on the ice for at least 500 draws and pull the defenceman with the highest ratio of defensive to offensive draws, relative to the team, and those with the lowest ratio of defensive to offensive draws, relative to the team. I used numbers relative to the team ratio rather than absolute numbers in order to be making an apples to apples comparison. What I’m interested in seeing is how different coaches handled the issue. As you’ll see, some coaches (Jacques Lemaire and Wayne Gretzky) were quite aggressive in pursuing this, while others (notably Craig MacTavish) weren’t.
I wouldn’t cross the street to listen to Mike Keenan talk about his strategies as a general manager but I’d go a long way to hear him talk about this strategy and why some coaches pursue it while others don’t. I think that you can make a little bit of sense from it, although it’s not as cut and dry as “We think this guy sucks in the defensive zone.” It’s going to depend on the specific mix of talent a coach has. In any event, it’s interesting stuff. I continue to think that if you were really crazy for line matching and you went and got a smart techie to break down the data, you could probably know who the opposing coach was going to put on the ice at any given moment before he does.