Faceoffs make a difference as Blackhawks and Bruins compete for Stanley Cup

  • Article by: JAY COHEN , AP Sports Writer
  • Updated: June 22, 2013 - 11:55 PM

CHICAGO — Patrick Sharp was a young center in the Philadelphia Flyers' organization when he got a lesson from Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke on taking faceoffs. Clarke played 15 seasons in the NHL and won two Stanley Cups, so Sharp listened intently.

He carries the heart of the message with him to this day.

"The biggest thing he told me was, 'Get in there, get low and just battle and not be afraid to get dirty,'" said Sharp, now a wing for the Chicago Blackhawks. "Sometimes you get thinking about what the other guy's doing and what you want to do at the faceoff dot and sometimes the best way is just get in there and compete for that puck."

That competition has taken on added significance in this year's Stanley Cup finals, with the evenly matched Blackhawks and Boston Bruins vying for the title. There are stars all over the ice, so every draw can lead to another opportunity for a gifted scorer to pick up a crucial goal.

"Faceoffs are critical, especially at this point in the season," Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said. "The more times you can start with the puck than not obviously boosts your team.

"You want to have first crack at playing with the puck, especially a team like them, they like to play with the puck a lot more rather than dump the puck in. It's important."

Faceoffs played a huge role when Boston beat Chicago 2-0 in Game 3 to take a 2-1 advantage in the series. The Bruins won a whopping 40 of the 56 draws in the victory, including six of seven when they were on the power play or short-handed. The disparity was a factor in limiting the Blackhawks to just 28 shots on goal.

Chicago gradually turned it around in each of the next two games, winning 39 of 77 faceoffs on Wednesday night and 33 of 57 in Game 5. The improved performance on the draws helped the Blackhawks to two victories that moved them within one win of their second Stanley Cup title in four years.

"I thought we were much more effective than in the prior game," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said before Saturday night's 3-1 win. "They got better as the game went on. I just think starting with the puck is key. I think having it against this team is important.

"When you're at a disadvantage, that big of a variance, you're definitely against it, and I think especially in the big faceoffs, the critical ones, especially starting special teams plays a huge importance."

Chicago and Boston each has one of the best centers in the league when it comes to winning faceoffs. Bruins star Patrice Bergeron had an NHL-best 62.1 percent faceoff winning percentage this season, and Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was second at 59.9 percent.

While the natural talent for Bergeron and Toews is a factor in their success, there's so much more that goes into winning faceoffs, especially in the playoffs. It's about practice, scouting and the effort by the other players on the ice. The linesman that drops the puck also is important.

"Everyone's got to be competitive and hungry to get the puck," Toews said. "At the end of the day a lot of bounces can go the wrong way but I think if you're working hard and you're ready for it you're going to get more draws."

The preparation starts with scouting and video work. The players and coaches examine past faceoffs to look for tendencies in opposing players and also where their own technique can improve.

"Every series when you play against the same guys for a few games, there are some tendencies that you learn," said Bergeron, who missed much of Game 5 with an injury. "You try to, I guess, counter and I'm sure they're doing the same things.

"Sometimes, some of the things you've been doing have not been working as well and you try to tweak some things and talk to your centermen as the series progresses."

There's also plenty of gamesmanship when it comes to the linesman dropping the puck. It's up to the official to conduct a fair faceoff while the centers jockey for position and any little advantage they can find.

"They have a tough job, because there is a certain protocol that you're supposed to follow to take a faceoff and both teams, you want to cheat as much as you can and you're not afraid to get thrown out because a lot of guys can take draws," Sharp said. "It's like a three-way responsibility, both teams and the refs as well."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets - B. Colon 6:05 PM
Washington - T. Roark
Baltimore - U. Jimenez 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - B. McCarthy
Kansas City - Y. Ventura 6:05 PM
Cleveland - D. Salazar
Seattle - F. Hernandez 6:07 PM
Toronto - R. Dickey
Chicago WSox - S. Carroll 6:08 PM
Detroit - D. Price
Philadelphia - C. Hamels 6:10 PM
Miami - H. Alvarez
Pittsburgh - G. Cole 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Wood
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - J. Cueto
Tampa Bay - A. Cobb 6:10 PM
Boston - C. Buchholz
Houston - B. Oberholtzer 7:05 PM
Texas - N. Martinez
St. Louis - S. Miller 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks
Arizona - A. Chafin 7:10 PM
Minnesota - K. Gibson
LA Angels - W. LeBlanc 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
Colorado - J. De La Rosa 9:10 PM
San Diego - R. Erlin
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New England 9/29/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Carolina 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Pittsburgh 6:00 PM
Columbus
Boston 6:30 PM
Montreal
Nashville 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Toronto
Detroit 7:30 PM
Chicago
San Jose 8:00 PM
Vancouver
Arizona 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Vancouver 9:30 PM
San Jose
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close