Does Getting Kicked Out Of A Face-off Go On Your Permanent Record?

DC Sports Nexus ---- Monday, November 7, 2011

I was a good player. I studied film every day. I was never late for practice. I stayed out of fights. Sure sometimes I'd get a penalty here and there, but nothing too extreme. Maybe a tripping here and there. I would never complain to the refs, I never talked back to my coach, and I never talked trash on the ice. So how did I get kicked out of the face-off!?

One of the things that someone like myself notices during a typical hockey game is that sometimes during a face-off the ref will ask one of the participants to leave the circle. I have no idea what a player does to get thrown out of the face-off, so I figured I would try to find out.

Wow, scoring off the face-off is so cool, I'm surprised it is allowed...

The only thing I know about the faceoff is that if you move your stick along with the organ music, you will automatically win the faceoff. That is a lesson I learned years ago playing NHL '94. However from what I've seen, this is not really a good lesson at all. It appears that if you keep swinging your stick on the dot before the drop, you will be tossed.

So what exactly are the rules for face-offs? Well looking at the NHL rulebook I see a bunch of words that make no sense to me. Lines, hash marks, edges...I don't even know what a hockey rink looks like except for a couple blue lines and a trapezoid. This doesn't help me at all.

So for now, I'm just going to accept that it has something to do with a player not being in the correct position or moving out of position early. I'll figure out WHAT positions they are messing up later on. I still have some basics to learn first...

Other face-off questions:
  • What is the point of kicking a guy out? To stop slowing the game down?
  • Is the Center always the best face-off guy?
  • Does the situation determine who takes the faceoff?
  • Who is the backup face-off guy?
  • Are some guys really good at winning face-offs?
  • Do most casual hockey fans know the intricate details of this?
  • How often does the delay of game bench minor happen? I haven't seen it yet.


Over_head said...

*What is the point of kicking a guy out? To stop slowing the game down?*

Face off men are kicked out for any violation of the rules by his team prior to or at the face off. Could be a team mate entering the circle early, could be moving his stick early (prior to puck drop), could be not lining up at the dot when the linesman asked, or it could be the linesman just being a pain in the ass.

*Is the Center always the best face-off guy?*


*Does the situation determine who takes the faceoff?*

Yes, offensive or defensive zone, game situation play into it.

*Who is the backup face-off guy?*

The next best player at taking faceoffs that is on the ice. In critical situations a team might actually put two centers on the ice.

*Are some guys really good at winning face-offs?*

*Do most casual hockey fans know the intricate details of this?*

Not sure. Many think they do when they really do not.

*How often does the delay of game bench minor happen? I haven't seen it yet.*

Delay of game is a broad rule. As it applies to face off situations I have never seen a minor called. Usually, the center is just booted from the circle.

Chris Conway said...

Usually the league leader in faceoff winning % is around 60%. Here's last year's leaders:

As over_head said, sometimes a team will put 2 centers on if they absolutely have to win a faceoff (i.e. down by a goal with a minute left, goalie pulled, faceoff in offensive zone, or up by a goal with little time left and a faceoff in your own zone). Otherwise, they'll just use a winger to take the draw.

The delay penalty on faceoffs never happens (the rule being that if a player, and his replacement both get tossed from the same faceoff, it's a penalty), mainly because the replacement knows that if he gets tossed, he sits for 2 minutes. Better to lose 1 faceoff than have to kill off a penalty.

Unknown said...

Everybody (well, everybody who is good at faceoffs) cheats at faceoffs. It's an elaborate dance with minimal consequence in most game situations.

If you go back and look at Rod Brind'Amour's old tapes, he was a monster in the circle, but cheated nearly every time. The same is true of pretty much every top faceoff guy in the league.

The thing is, faceoff cheating is hard to spot if you don't have a linesman's eye view, but here are some things to look for:

Watch the visiting centre's stick - The home centre has the advantage of getting to put his stick down last. That allows him to assess where the other centre is trying to pull the puck. Once the home centre's stick is down, the visiting centre is not supposed to adjust the blade of his stick, but it happens all the time. If the home centre sees it, he can then re-adjust his own stick, hence the 'fencing' you sometimes see before a faceoff.

Watch for movement - Both centres are supposed to set themselves before the draw. Often, one or both centres will try to get away with coasting forward into the draw, allowing them to push the other centre off the puck.

Watch the alignment - Both centres are supposed to be square to one another before the draw. If a centre is looking to pull the puck to a specific side, he may turn his body before the draw to give him more leverage going to that side.

In general, the best faceoff guy on every team probably cheats, because there is little incentive not to. In a really important situation (empty net, defensive zone faceoff on the PK, etc) you always want to have two centres on the ice in case your first guy gets kicked out.

Unknown said...

Another situational note:

Every centre has a "strong side" to which they prefer to pull the puck. This is particularly relevant for a defensive zone faceoff that you really need to win.

Depending on which side of the ice the faceoff is on, a defending centre winning a draw will pull the puck towards the corner (good) or towards the net (bad).

If your best faceoff guy is in a position where he has to try to win the draw to his weaker side, you have a bit of a conundrum on your hands as a coach: Do you put him in, and have him try the weaker side? Do you put him in, have him go to his strong side and hope he doesn't score on himself? Do you put someone else in? Should Ovi really be out there right now? Man I'm hungry...

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