Flames Need To Win Faceoffs Tonight

The Flames played a pretty solid game in Game 1, gradually getting better throughout the game in most respects. Heck, the Corsi battle was even!

One area where they struggled, though, was the face-off circle.


5 taken
5-0 VAN
7 taken
7-0 VAN
4 taken
3-1 VAN
1 taken
1-0 VAN
2 taken
2-0 CGY
2 taken
2-0 CGY
5 taken
3-2 CGY
3 taken
2-1 VAN
3 taken
3-0 CGY
1 taken
1-0 CGY
2 taken
2-0 CGY
2 taken
2-0 VAN
2 taken
1-1 tie
4 taken
3-1 CGY
2 taken
2-0 VAN

Of 16 possible match-ups, one never happened, one was a tie and seven were won by Vancouver.

Backlund and Monahan got schooled by Henrik Sedin, but Monahan was also edged by Horvat, only beating Nick Bonino head-to-head. And Bonino lost the head-to-head match-up against everybody.

The difficulty for Calgary is that the Canucks have last change, and that the Flames top line’s success is likely dependent on getting the heck away from the Sedins. I suspect in Calgary, you’ll see a lot of Stajan’s line with Ferland and Jones pounding the heck out of the Sedins and wearing them down. But with Willie Desjardins having last call on lines, we’re seeing a lot of strength-versus-strength with Sedins facing the Flames top trio or them facing the Backlund/Bennett/Colborne line quite a bit, based on the face-off frequency.

And considering how good Henrik Sedin is at face-offs, I’m not sure they’d necessarily want to throw Stajan to the wolves and waste the time of their most-veteran, best face-off taking player.

But keep an eye on face-offs tonight. It was one of the few things the Canucks had a clear edge in, and could be something they use to build upon for the rest of the series.

  • Greg

    So basically Henrietta Sedin is very very good at face offs, but everything else was either a wash or too small a sample size to really matter.

    Doesn’t sound to me like we have a real deficiency here, they just have 1 Center who’s really good at face offs.

    Frankly, he can keep all his face off wins as long he lets us have our “most goals” stat again. Seems like a fair trade to me. 🙂

    • The Last Big Bear

      Yeah, I’ll be honest, except for specific situations (ie special teams, pulled goalie, 1 goal lead late, etc), I don’t really think faceoffs are all that important.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    Flames need to score early and get in vans head…chase lack from the net boys..2 games up and my heart can relax a bit..great game but too close for comfort lol

  • Avalain

    Can someone please point me to any sort of statistical analysis that shows the importance faceoffs? I found this one that seems to say it takes an average differential of 76 faceoffs to create one goal differential (i.e. 76 more faceoff wins than your opponent). This makes face-offs seem unimportant to me, especially given that this is only a 7 game series (given that there is roughly 60 faceoffs per game) flames would have to be at less than 40% win to even make a goal differential.

    Sounds to me like the article should be titled, “It’d be nice if the Flames won a few more faceoffs”


      • Parallex

        … and then a pass is deflected out of the zone and the lost faceoff ends up meaning nothing.

        Ultimately I don’t think faceoffs make much of a difference unless you’re being blown out of the water. If you’re losing faceoffs by a two to one margin then sure that’s an issue but if you’re losing them only mildly it’s not something to fret about.

        I think faceoffs are to hockey what the stolan base attempt is to baseball… an aspect of play where, on the whole, the preceived value greatly exceeds the actual value.

    • The Fall

      Interesting read. Thanks for the post.

      The jump from 50%-60% face-off win comment seemed relevant. I could be convinced that this is even more relevant in the playoffs when the weaker teams don’t skew the numbers.

      I also like the comment that after 20 seconds of play, ANY hockey event is just noise…

      Go Flames

  • The Last Big Bear

    I like to say that the benefit of winning a faceoff is instantaneous and short lived. Basically it just lasts as long as it takes you to take a shot (and that only if you’re a bit lucky). Then the puck goes to the team that pursues it better.