The Chicago Blackhawks have Jonathan Toews in the face-off dot in key situations and he has been elite at it for over a decade.
The Chicago Blackhawks have one of the best face-off men in the world in Jonathan Toews. He has been elite at it for over a decade and it has really helped the Hawks out. A lot of people take no stock in face-off abilities but that is just ridiculous. If you win face-offs more than you lose them, you start with possession more than you don’t. You never know what that can lead to as far as the pace of the game.
Toews had a remarkable 57.29 percent in 2019-20 season. That was good for eighth in the entire National Hockey League. He is consistently amongst league leaders in this statistic which is a testament to his abilities to help change games. When you think of the consistently elite face-off centermen in the NHL it is Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron who was the sixth-best face-off man this season.
Does face-off success and winning have anything to do with each other? Well, Sean Couturier led the NHL with a 59.62 percent. His teammate, Claude Giroux, had the fourth-best percentage at 59.03. The Philadelphia Flyers were having a fantastic year with those two leading the way up the middle.
The Vancouver Canucks also had a resurgent season this year. Well, they had three players in the top seven (J.T. Miller, Jay Beagle, and Bo Horvat) in face-off percentage. Between that and the Flyers players, it is pretty clear that you can correlate winning to it to some degree. The Blackhawks are lucky to have a player as good at it as Toews has been for all these years.
The Blackhawks would be smart to work on it with the rest of their centerman so they can work on being even better in the possession game. Think about this, winning a draw in the defensive zone is already a great defensive play, and winning one in the offensive zone can lead to a high danger scoring chance. That is why this is so important for the rest of the Chicago team.
Toews wasn’t the only Chicago center that was above 50 percent. David Kampf was at 52.34 which is a really nice total. He doesn’t provide much offense but he is a fair defensive-minded center. Dylan Strome, Zack Smith, Andrew Shaw, and Ryan Carpenter were all guys who took a fair amount of draws and they were all in the 43-48 percent range. That overall number needs to come up in order to improve the team’s totals.
One thing of note is the face-off percentage of Kirby Dach. He has the potential to be this team’s number one or number two center one day. Well, at 18-years-old, he had an abysmal 33.78 percentage. It is very hard to win draws in the NHL. You need to be strong, skilled, and smart. Dach will learn the ways and improve as the years go on. The only center who went ahead of him in the draft, Jack Hughes of the New Jersey Devils, also had a terrible percentage (36) percent.
These kids need time to improve their skills. With an elite guy like Toews there to lead the way and show them the ropes, things should go smoothly for them in their development of the face-off game. It is impressive that Toews continues to win them at an elite level.