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Center Nic Dowd has been a regular feature on the Washington Capitals’ fourth-line for the last two seasons and now in his third campaign in a Caps sweater, the former seventh-round pick of the Los Angeles Kings is having perhaps his most efficient season on the faceoff dot in a season in which the team as a whole has struggled on the draw.
On the 2020-21 season, Dowd has a career-high Faceoff Win Percentage of 53.26, good enough for second among the Capitals’ Centers to Lars Eller’s slightly better 53.44. In the Capitals’ 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday afternoon, Dowd won 10 of 16 draws (an astounding 62.5%) and since the Capitals’ game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on February 16, has won nearly 63% of his faceoff draws taken, second-most among all NHL skaters with at least 90 draws in the circle.
Nic Dowd won 10 of his 16 faceoffs (62.5%) against New Jersey. Dowd has won 57 of his 91 total faceoffs (62.6%) since Feb. 16, the second-highest faceoff win percentage in the NHL among skaters with at least 90 total faceoffs.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) February 27, 2021
Dowd’s full season career-high entering 2020-21 in faceoff effectiveness came in his first season in Washington, in which he won 51.9% of his draws in 64 Games Played. His career average on the dot is 50.2%. Faceoff effectiveness is nothing new for the St. Cloud State product, who recorded Faceoff Win Percentages over 51% in three of his four seasons with the Huskies, with his season-high 53.1 coming in his Junior season of 2012-13. Dowd finished his career at St. Cloud with a Faceoff Percentage of 51.2.
While there are 36 games left on the Capitals’ 56-game schedule, Dowd’s effectiveness in the faceoff dot is a promising for a team that struggled mightily in that department through the first half of the season (through the team’s first 10 games of the season, they had a cumulative Faceoff Win Percentage of 45.9, which ranked third-worst in the league at that juncture of the season), and has improved to only 25th in the league having won just 47.6% and lost a total of 588 draws, though they rank 14th in Faceoff Wins with 535. Only one other player with at least 90 draws on the team (Eller) has a Faceoff Win Percentage over 50; right wing Tom Wilson has won 50% of his 28 draws. The team’s top centers, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov have won just 40.5% and 43.5% of their faceoffs, respectively. Winning draws is an area in which first-year bench boss Peter Laviolette has been placing emphasis on with his team, and the addition of longtime NHLer Michael Peca as Player Development Coach is set to help in that department as Dowd recently highlighted some of the techniques in which Peca has aided his own approach.
As the Capitals as a whole continue to try to find their footing in improving their faceoff numbers, it is clear that Dowd has planted himself on solid ice and squarely in the faceoff circle.
By Michael Fleetwood
Dowd talking about how he goes up against Crosby, and his strategies for having to put his stick down in the defensive zone was fascinating insight.
The new(er) rule that requires the defensive team to put their stick down first certainly added a twist to faceoff strategies, but has it really added to scoring…the reason for the rule change?
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