Faceoffs won’t the be-all and end-all, but in the competition to become the Washington Capitals’ second-line center — a competition with two favorites, Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov — it sure sounds like they’ll be a factor.
“It’s a huge part of the game,” said coach Barry Trotz, per the Washington Post. “It’s puck possession, it’s all that.”
That doesn’t bode particularly well for Johansson, who won just 95 of the 274 faceoffs (34.7%) he took last season. Except Kuznetsov went just 5-for-22 (18.5%) in limited attempts, so the talented young Russian has some work to do as well. Neither Johansson nor Kuznetsov won more faceoffs than he lost Monday versus Philly.
Rookie Andre Burakovsky is another option for Trotz at 2c, though probably a long shot.
All three candidates — Johansson, Kuznetsov, and Burakovsky — are expected to be in the lineup tonight when the Caps take on the Bruins in Boston.
The Caps’ best faceoff man in 2013-14 is now on a different team. Mikhail Grabovski won 54.0 percent of the 641 draws he took, before signing with the Islanders in the offseason.