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The 2017-18 NHL regular season is still young. With five games complete for the Capitals, they have recorded a 2-2-1 record. Minus the debacle in New Jersey, the Capitals have played well even in their other losses.
While the Capitals are averaging four goals per game early, the Capitals are not performing well inside the faceoff circle. Through 5 games, the Capitals are just 43.8% effective in the faceoff dot. Ranked 30th in the league.
COMPARING THE CAPITALS CENTERS IN THE DOT
As expected, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov have taken the most faceoffs among the Capitals centers. While Backstrom is hanging inside the dot at 50% effective, Kuznetsov is struggling inside the dot at 35.8%. Lars Eller and Nic Dowd have been solid at 49.1% effective and 48.9% effective, respectively.
Kuznetsov has not been strong in the faceoff dot throughout his NHL career. Through 345 regular season games, Kuznetsov is 44.9% effective inside the faceoff dot.
HOW TO FIX SOME FACEOFF ISSUES
The Capitals could fix a few things in their lineup deployment to help their faceoff effectiveness. One thing the Capitals could attempt to try is giving Nicklas Backstrom more draws on the penalty kill. While Backstrom is not mainly used on the Capitals penalty kill a lot, he could be used a little bit more as he is a very good two-way player.
Another way the Capitals can try to boost the faceoff stats is by trying other players at the position. Chandler Stephenson has experience playing center, and was 54% from the faceoff dot last season. Stephenson could be an option for the Capitals on either of their special teams units to take additional draws.
SHOULD THE FANS BE WORRIED?
Faceoffs are a very important part of the game. Faceoffs help determine which team gains possession of the puck.
While many fans may overlook it, a simple faceoff win can create something good, and sometimes it can happen rather quickly. Faceoffs are critical, and most of the top teams in the league are good inside the circles.
While the season is still young, the Capitals lack of success in the dot is something that needs to be monitored closely. The coaching staff can always make tweaks, and use different lineup combinations to try to improve this area of weakness. The good news for the Capitals is that they have plenty of players that have centre ice experience. The Capitals have plenty of forwards that are comfortable inside the faceoff dot.
The fans should want to see some creativity inside the faceoff circle. The fans should not be in panic mode, as the Capitals effectiveness in the dot could increase as the season progresses.
By: George Foussekis