Washington Capitals center Nic Dowd told the media prior to the team’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington) that he met with player development coach Matthew Peca about taking more faceoffs and his role this season prior to opening night in January.
“He’s been really good. He’s a quiet guy. … He’s played the game for a long time,” Dowd, who’s 129 defensive zone draws (he is just under 47% efficient at defensive-zone draws) are 30 ahead of center Lars Eller for the most on the team, said of Peca. He added that Peca has helped the team out “a lot” on draws and has done a good job with it. “I think we’ve gotten a lot better [in the dot] since he’s gotten here.”
Dowd told the media that he stays close down first in defensive zone draws compared to ones in the offensive zone.
He said that “you have to win [the defensive draw at end of the game].” At the very least, it needs to be a 50/50 draw but the goal is to snap it back right to one of his teammates. Dowd says that the Capitals’ centermen cannot allow the opposition to run their plan by giving them the win at the faceoff circle.
On playing the same centers over and over with more multi-game series against the teams this season, Dowd said that “It has its challenges and benefits.” He added that the Penguins’ centers have done a good job with faceoffs. “You have to get your stick down first,” Dowd explained, noting that it can be a challenge against certain players like Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. “It’s a little bit of a chess game,” Dowd went on, adding that he tries to change up what he does.
Dowd said getting his stick down in the defensive zone is harder because the defensive player will put his stick down first. There will be a pause depending on the linesman, who is supposed to have the offensive player put the stick down after the defensive one does because the NHL wants to increase scoring. The offensive player will time it after the defensive player puts the stick down first, which “everyone does… and that’s why you see a lot of guys kicked out [of the dot].” He is forced to swat the puck back, which he is improving at.
By Harrison Brown