Ovechkin leads league in quick strikes

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

There have been 27,626 faceoffs won so far this season, which is roughly 30 per game. The Capitals have 926 of those wins, which accounts for 48.3 percent of their draws. A faceoff establishes possession of the puck, so it might not be a surprise that Washington is in the bottom third in terms of possession, where they have been outshot 1047 to 911 in 30 games.

Despite being in the red for faceoff wins, one area Washington has succeeded is generating offense off the faceoff. During Saturday night’s win over Nashville, three of the Caps’ five goals were scored after the draw.

“We got three goals off the faceoffs tonight, which is an important thing,” Coach Adam Oates said after the win. “We went to the right spot on [Brouwer’s] goal, we talked about the cycle, having a guy in front. He got rewarded on that one. Then the power play quick. Third goal, same sort of stuff. We did the right things, [defense] getting the puck on net, getting through traffic. The puck had eyes.”

The third goal was by blueliner Nate Schimdt, a rocket from the point that whizzed by Predators netminder Marek Mazanec.


Only the San Jose Sharks (125) have generated more even-strength shot attempts within 10 seconds of a faceoff than Washington (119) but no one in the league has directed more rubber on net in that time frame than Alex Ovechkin (24). In addition, Ovechkin has accounted for three goals within those 10 seconds, also best in the NHL. And that’s not even including goals off the faceoff during the power play, like this laser from Saturday night.


Nicklas Backstrom has chipped in a goal and three assists, and Marcus Johansson leads Washington in helpers with three — all primary assists — within the 10-second time frame. If Backstrom can get back to winning more than half of his even-strength draws (he is at 46.3 percent now, but was 50.9 percent last season), opponents may never know what hit them.

Neil Greenberg, when he isn’t watching the games, analyzes advanced statistics in the NHL and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd. Follow him on Twitter: @ngreenberg.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.



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Katie Carrera · December 9, 2013