Fantasy Hockey Cheat Sheets: Faceoff winners

Thumbnail image for stoll faceoff.jpgWhile Pro Hockey Talk doesn’t specialize in fantasy hockey (our Rotoworld cousins do, though), we still think that there are areas where we can help you, the budding imaginary general managers. For that reason, we’re going to discuss different philosophies, strategies and cheat sheets as fantasy drafts begin to increase around North America.

Previous entry: Penalty Minutes.

Tonight’s entry: Faceoff leaders.

While it’s not a stat that pops up in every fantasy hockey league, faceoff wins (or “FW”) is one of the easiest categories to dominate if you’re in a league with less-than-observant opponents. Generally speaking, they’re pretty consistent game to game so you can build a team that generates a lot of FWs with outstanding consistency.

Before I reveal a few tricks, here are the top 15 faceoff winners from the last three seasons. Keep in mind I don’t really care about winning percentage, since a 60 percent rate doesn’t mean much if you only take a few draws per year.

faceoff0910.JPG

(click to enlarge)

faceoff0809.JPG

(click to enlarge)

faceoff0708.JPG

(click to enlarge)

While Alex Ovechkin mauls everyone in the shots on goal category*, Sidney Crosby’s value increases when FW are a category considering the fact that a) he takes a ton of faceoffs and b) he seemingly improves his skills in the faceoff circle every year. While I mostly ignore faceoff winning percentage, it’s a good indicator for budding stars. Chances are, Jonathan Toews might get a little better at draws and would naturally win a lot more if he can play 82 out of 82 games rather than just 73.

* – Yes, there will probably be a “SOG” cheat sheet too.

selannefaceoff.jpgThere’s one tricky move that savvy fantasy owners use: adding wingers who win faceoffs. I couldn’t find an easily sortable list, but after some digging I came up with the biggest FW generators who might be considered a winger (or, sometimes, they get the very spiffy C/RW or C/LW eligibility). Here are the wingers who made NHL.com’s top 100 faceoff win list.

*Henrik Zetterberg (often listed as a LW) won 544 faceoffs last season, good for 41st in the NHL.
*David Backes (often listed as a RW) won 504 last year, good for 50th.
*RJ Umberger (sometimes a LW) won 372 last year (good for No. 82).
*Patrick Marleau (if he’s on a line with Joe Thornton) might not be considered a center-only. He won 316 last year, tying him with Marc Savard for 94th.
*Claude Giroux (RW) won 297, good for 98th place.

With this information, you should be able to be build one of the top teams in your league in FWs. Some might scoff at paying attention to a stat like FW, but if you’re in a league that counts them as a category they actually count just as much as goals or assists, especially if your league doesn’t also include a separate points category. Why not dominate a category that is predictable and easy to win, especially since you can focus on the Crosbys and Zetterbergs who bring faceoff wins to the table but also can score in large quantities? I’m not saying focus solely on FW, but if you’re in a coin flip scenario, go with the guy who will win more.

Hopefully this cheat sheet will help you target those players. Expect more fantasy articles and cheat sheets as this week goes along.

Scroll Down For:

    Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

    2816marty4
    New Jersey Devils
    Leave a comment

    The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

    “Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

    “That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

    More on the statue from the Devils:

    The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

    Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

    15 Comments

    The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

    Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

    The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

    Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

    “It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

    “You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

    “We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

    The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

    Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

    Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game Three
    Getty Images
    Leave a comment

    In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

    After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

    The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

    — He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

    — From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

    — Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

    He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

    Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

    The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

    The Islanders also have a game in hand.

    Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

    Florida Panthers v New Jersey Devils
    Getty Images
    2 Comments

    The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

    As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

    Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

    In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.