One of the many problems with cramming in this many games with one opponent in such a short amount of time is that we already know the narratives that will be belched out during the broadcast. Along with Eddie Olczyk’s newfound passion for slamming analytics or possession-numbers (he seriously must not have got a job or something because he wouldn’t consider them and thus is going to make everyone pay now), and the long-standing fascination with hit-stats, apparently the new argle-bargle for Pat Foley and Eddie O is faceoffs.
And there’s no one they love to talk about more on that subject than Ryan O’Reilly.
Sure, ROR is third in the league again in faceoff-win percentage at 62.4%. That’s par for the course for O’Reilly, who consistently has been among the league’s best. What it hasn’t stopped is his possession numbers from being middling at best, considering how much he’s starting in the o-zone this season, or his team from being a big ball of suck.
It’s not that faceoffs don’t matter. They just don’t matter as much as everyone seems to want to believe.
Last year, ROR was second in the league in FOW%. The leader was Antoine Vermette, He spent most of the season getting his head kicked in while a Duck and is now out of the league. Claude Giroux, Jonathan Toews, and Patrice Bergeron were behind ROR, and we know they’re some of the best possession players in the league. It can go either way.
Team-wide, faceoffs matter even less. Two of the top five teams in faceoffs last year didn’t make the playoffs, and a third, Philly, didn’t really have any business there either. Three of the bottom five and four of the bottom six were playoff teams. You find these kinds of numbers no matter what season you look.
It’s not that faceoffs are completely irrelevant. There are a few draws within each every game that do matter, and they’re usually on special teams or toward the end of a game. But there are so many that they become rather meaningless if you study them all at once. They’re a pebble in a river.
But that won’t stop Foley and Eddie from championing ROR as the cure for cancer and/or complaining about the lack of draws that the Hawks win. Strangely, Anisimov doesn’t win draws and yet can’t seem to do wrong in their eyes, though. Some men you just can’t reach.
Game #11 Preview Suite