The New York Islanders are 4-3-1 to begin February. I wanted to take a deeper look to see the role face-offs have played in the Islanders’ success.
According to puckbase.com the Islanders rank 20th in the league this season in the face-off circle. Through 56 games they have had won 48.8% of the face offs they have taken. Through the first eight games in February they have actually taken a step back and are only winning 47% of face-offs.
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In the four games, they Isles have won to begin this month they improve to winning 51% of their face-offs taken. They also improve to owning a 53% success rate in the offensive zone in their four wins. That percentage drops 46% in the games they have lost this month.
Looking at the Red Wings game there are two goals that were scored as a direct result of the face off result.
opened the scoring after
was able to steal the puck following a
face-off win. This goal was a rare time when losing a defensive zone face off actually helped the Isles.
Unfortunately a late defensive zone loss would also be the demise of the Islanders against the Red Wings.
won the face-off back to
and DeKeyser just threw the puck on net. As flukey of a goal as it was, fact of the matter is if
wins that face-off the game may have been destined for overtime.
The Islanders earned a much-needed victory against the Rangers on Tuesday and had their best game in the face-off circle of the month. The Isles won the face-off battle in every zone, including winning 76% of face-offs in the neutral zone!
Defensive Zone Importance
In the first eight games of February, the Islanders have had 174 defensive zone face-offs. Those are evenly split into 87 wins and 87 losses. The difference in their success is staggering. In the Isles four wins they have won 53% of their defensive zone face offs. Their success rate drops to 40% in the four losses.
In order to continue on this playoff run, the Islanders are going to have to win the majority of defensive zone draws.
Going forward the Islanders will have to stay sharp in their difference zone. Islanders’ color commentator, Butch Goring, will often say how nowadays face-offs aren’t so much about skill, but rather how good you can cheat. As the old adage goes, if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.