One area of the game that was a major issue for the Dallas Stars last season were faceoffs.
As a team, they were 27th in the league in face off percentage winning just 47.2 percent of their draws. That kind of action won’t let you possess the puck and in a league where that’s of the utmost importance, the Stars struggled.
Dallas’ top four players in taking faceoffs last season were Vernon Fiddler (51.5), Cody Eakin (48.6), Derek Roy (46.7), and Jamie Benn (46.1). Fiddler being the lone guy winning more than half his draws was an issue as he’s a third or fourth line player.
When Dallas acquired Rich Peverley, Tyler Seguin, and Shawn Horcoff in separate deals this summer, they managed to address faceoffs in a big way.
Peverley, by far, is the leader in this category finishing second on the Bruins behind Patrice Bergeron winning 58.4 percent of faceoffs. While he didn’t take the bulk of the draws, he was more than effective when he did.
Horcoff throughout his career has hovered around 50 percent in faceoffs. While that’s not terribly impressive, it’s still better than the Stars did as a team. Just last season he won 49 percent and that was good enough to be second on the Stars.
Seguin, a center by trade but a winger in Boston, still had decent success coming away with a win in the circle 48.9 percent of the time.
Faceoffs aren’t as noticeable as goals or assists, but the Stars were so poor in that aspect of the game last season that winning more draws could be enough to help spark their offense. Now they’ve got the players to help make that happen.
Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?
TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:
“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”
Daly said that he’d be surprised “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”
As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.
For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told ESPN.com that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.
The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.
So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?
At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”
Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.