New York Islanders Faceoffs Are Still An Issue
By Matt O'Leary
The New York Islanders struggle at the faceoff dot and it shows the most with their top-two centers which is a major issue.
Last year the New York Islanders were just 48.9 percent from the faceoff circle. On the score sheet, faceoff things aren’t something talked about a lot but they are pivotal to winning games and sustaining offensive chances.
Think about it, if you win a faceoff you’re in an offensive mode with the puck whereas if you lose said faceoff you now have to worry about taking the puck away.
This year, the Islanders are somehow worse in this category with a 46.1 faceoff percentage through seven games. It’s especially bad when the centers who are on the ice the most are poor on the faceoff.
As good as Mathew Barzal is one of his biggest flaws is his abilities in the faceoff circle. In a full season sample size, he was 42.6 percent. This year he is even worse through his first 75 faceoffs on the season.
Barzal has only won 38.7 percent of them. Luckily, he hasn’t taken the most faceoffs on the team but he’s still taken the third most and when you’re on the ice for as long as he is he’s going to be expected to take them, there’s no avoiding it.
He’s got to give you, ideally, 50 percent, even if he can get close to the 50 percent mark I’ll sign up for it but if you’re below 40 percent even at this point that’s pretty rough.
Brock Nelson, who leads the team in faceoff opportunities is only 44.7 percent. Last year it was 48.3, which is better but not still not ideal. The issue is that the Islanders top-six centers are virtually guaranteed losses in the faceoff dots.
Casey Cizikas and Valtteri Filppula are both very good faceoff guys but they have a lot fewer opportunities. In 84 chances Filppula is 53.6 percent and Cizikas is 57.4 percent in 61 chances.
Brock Nelson is likely not a long-term solution at center in the top-six, so when the Islanders are in the market for a second line center this offseason they should focus on someone who can put up production and is competent in the faceoff circle.
Duchene is 51.8 percent from the faceoff circle this year and career-wise he’s 52.8 percent. Someone like that is a perfect middle six forward, and then you work with Barzal all offseason on his faceoffs.