This feature is part of our bi-weekly look at the NHL, which appears every other Sunday on Page 2 of the print edition.
Dallas Stars’ centerman Mike Ribeiro has never been considered a faceoff specialist. Last season he was 46.6 percent in the dot and just 44.8 percent the year before that. This season, however, he has won merely 64 of the 167 faceoffs he's taken, good for a 38.3 win percentage. Among faceoff men with more than 160 draws, that's the lowest percentage in the league.
Almost a third those faceoffs have come in the defensive zone, and with Ribeiro winning just 42.3 percent (22 for 52) of those, he is putting his team at a major disadvantage.
When a team loses a faceoff in its own end, opponent shots on goal jumps to the level of a 5-on-3 power-play for the next 25 to 30 seconds. Those lost faceoffs have already added approximately 13 minutes of penalty-killing time – not insignificant for a team already in the bottom third of the league in penalty minutes per game.
Yes, Dallas has one of the league's best penalty-killing units (87.5 percent) so far this season, but eventually Kari Lehtonen's performance will come back down to earth and the full effects of these lost defensive zone faceoffs will start to show.
Of all the players on the Boston Bruins who are off to a slow start, David Krejci is the biggest disappointment. After a lackluster regular season, he was the points leader for the Stanley Cup playoffs, tallying 23 points in 23 games, including a league-leading 12 goals. It was a performance that seemed to herald his arrival as a bona fide No. 1 center in the NHL. What a difference a year makes.
This season he has just one point in eight games, an even-strength goal against Tampa Bay. But there is reason for optimism.
The top line of Milan Lucic, Krejci and Nathan Horton, which combined for 32 points in the playoffs, was reunited in an effort to recapture some of the magic from last season.
Plus, Krejci is seeing no puck luck. When he is on the ice the team is shooting just 1.82 percent at even strength. The last three seasons his average was 10.15 percent and the league average is closer to eight percent, so expect Krejci to start lighting up the scoresheet in the very near future.
— Tarik El-Bashir's NHL power rankings for Nov. 4.
Follow Neil on Twitter: @ngreenberg.