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Posted at 10:16 AM ET, 03/ 6/2011

Capitals adjust in the faceoff circle without David Steckel

By Katie Carrera

When General Manager George McPhee traded away David Steckel on Feb. 28 as part of the deal that brought Jason Arnott to Washington it was a move that took the best face-off man in the NHL off of the Capitals' roster. Along with the impact of Arnott, how Washington fares in the faceoff circle for the duration of the regular season and into the playoffs bears watching after the activity at the deadline.

Steckel took the second highest number of faceoffs for the Capitals this season, with 670 total draws and he won 427 of those for a 63.7 percent success rating. His prowess in the faceoff circle is a large reason why Washington's win percentage ranks third in the league heading into Sunday's game against the Panthers at 52.3 percent.

More than just the numbers though, not having Steckel means Coach Bruce Boudreau will be calling different names for crucial draws throughout the course of a contest when in the past, those duties would most often fall to the Wisconsin native.

"To me, it's been a bit of an adjustment," Boudreau said. "You look down the bench, I've been so used to having him down the bench to throw out there -- now you have to mix and match and hope other guys can come to the front and do the job."

There have been two games since the trade was completed. Against the Islanders on March 1, the Capitals won 46 percent of the draws, winning 31 and losing 36, and against St. Louis on March 3 they won 51 percent, winning 30 and losing 29.

One thing that will help the Capitals on faceoffs going forward is that Nicklas Backstrom's thumb is slowly beginning to heal. For the first time since Backstrom's left thumb was fractured against Pittsburgh, Washington's top center took more than two draws when the Capitals faced the Blues.

Backstrom won 7 of 12 against St. Louis but didn't take a draw in his own zone. Boudreau said he believes that in another week's time Backstrom should be back at full strength. Boyd Gordon has also been given more of an opportunity to take important draws and has led the team with 21 and 19 faceoffs against the Blues and Islanders this week respectively.

By Katie Carrera  | March 6, 2011; 10:16 AM ET
 
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Comments

The linesmen kill me on this faceoff stuff. Sometimes it seems that they must feel like they need extra "facetime" on TV so they play games with guys. Unless I'm mistaken, the visiting player must make himself ready first by placing his stick in the designated faceoff area. This is not always adhered to and it makes me wonder why. I know that I'm not privy to the verbal commands of the linesman, however.....rules are rules and they should follow them as well as the players. I just think we get "jobbed" quite a bit on the faceoff dots.

Posted by: Cayugalaker | March 6, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Here are tonight's Rooting Instructions (Sunday March 6):

PHI (86 points) @ NYR (72 points): PHI holds the lead in the East by the slimmest of margins after last night's loss to...wait for it...Buffalo (BWAHAHA!). But knowing who to root for in tonight's tilt is like trying to decide whether you want Gaddafi or bin Laden to win a fist fight betweeen them. Still, rules are rules, though I must wash my mouth out with Drānō® afterward. Go Rangers.
NJD (62) @ NYI (59): I'm sorry: I feel bad for both teams. But IMHO the Isles have paid in full for the sins of Pat LaFontaine: they had Mike
'Crosby-Love' Milbury for a GM. Go Isles.
WAS (80) @ FLA (59): Habs helped our CAPS by defeating TBL last night. Carpe Diem, boys. GO CAPS!!!.
BUF (70) @ MIN (74): BUF should be rewarded after knocking down Philthy. A win vaults them into 7th place in the East Go Sabres.
NAS (75) @ CGY (77): Rules say root for the Preds, but Barry Trotz still creeps me out, so I just can't. Go Flames.
VAN (91) @ ANA (75): Luongo. Sedins. The BXA we shoulda had. The pretty sweater colours. Go Canucks

Posted by: Rhino40 | March 6, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Just a little added tidbit. I guess I should look in the rule book, but I believe that the offending team is to be given a "delay of game" penalty for two consecutive violations on the same faceoff. Other than a game I was in many moons ago, I have never seen that rule enforced. If it's still in the rule book they may as well remove it. By the way, we were already a man down when that happened.

Posted by: Cayugalaker | March 6, 2011 11:09 AM | Report abuse

@ Rhino

Hope you put this out everyday. Helps me keep it straight!!! Thanks.

Posted by: Cayugalaker | March 6, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse


Pittsburgh is among the hardest working teams in the league and are generaly a far harder working team than the Caps.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 5, 2011 9:33 PM |

---------

you're not a very hard working caps fan.

we didn't out work them in winning the season series 3-1 ?

get behind the caps and stop with all your whining, it's beyond old, it's annoying.


Posted by: hessone | March 6, 2011 11:21 AM |

Posted by: hessone | March 6, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

You are annoying hessone. Give the constant cheer leading over nothing a rest. We get it. You like the Caps and think that everything management does is great. No need for you to repeat it again and again.

Sure gets old. :)

Posted by: rblatch45 | March 6, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse

To quote Dale Hunter: "If you aren't cheating, you aren't trying". That rule applies to the faceoff circle. Putting your stick down 1st (and leaving it down) gives the advantage to the other center. If the linesman doesn't make you place your stick down, you don't. If you can touch the dot & get your stick back into position without getting tossed, you do it.
I've always thought faceoff win % was a flawed stat. Clean wins are much more important. A win where your player digs it out of the pile with a defender on top of him isn't a great help. However, a clean offensive pull to the point often leads to a good shot or passing chance, that type of win makes a difference.

Posted by: chriscaps | March 6, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

@Rhino40

I see what you mean on rooting interests. I cracked up on your comment about the Rangers/Flyers matchup on washing your mouth with Drano. I'm not quite as negative as you about the Rangers but they are a bit too close for comfort and, I'm sure if they ever got good, they'd be obnoxious.

I'd be rooting for Minnesota against Buffalo. The Sabres are just close enough to contention to be dangerous. (Someone would say that your choice violates the rules of rooting for West against East.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 6, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

@CapsFan75

Hmm, it all comes down to the question which team you want in the playoffs -

Sabres or Rangers - and as was discussed earlier, the Rangers seem to be more dangerous team ...

... maybe I root for the Sabres and the Flyers ...


... and please no three point games ...

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | March 6, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

@CapsFan75

Hmm, it all comes down to the question which team you want in the playoffs -

Sabres or Rangers - and as was discussed earlier, the Rangers seem to be more dangerous team ...

... maybe I root for the Sabres and the Flyers ...


... and please no three point games ...

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | March 6, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

The way the east has bunched up it is now all a crap shoot as to who will finish where and play whom. The Caps have a chance for first again and might as well take that leap even though playing either the NYR or CAR or any other hot team is scary.

To win you have to beat everyone and beat the best. There is no reason this team should have every playoff series turn into a 7 gamer - they should be putting teams away handily.

That said Mike Vogel wrote the Capitals are now 10-4-2 in their last 16 road games. That is what will win them games in the playoffs, and series (plural).

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | March 6, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

No offense Katie, but I'm fairly sure people don't remember who the "Faceoff King" of hockey every year is. I liked Steckle as much as anybody, but this was a good a trade as anybody they have traded for the last several years.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | March 6, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

@yesisaiditfirst

well said ..

however there maybe some teams which are easier to play against ... it could be a psychological effect e.g. to know you have won against that team in their buildung or you have lost in an ambarassing way multiple times or you couldn't score against their goalies etc.

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | March 6, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes its just like in football - the unsuspecting higher seed changes nothing in their game while the lower seed or team which lost the regular season series makes adjustments. The motivation of one victory turning the tables propels them to win a playoff series - if thats so this 2010/11 season for Washington has been one big season of adjustment....and very interesting!

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | March 6, 2011 1:08 PM | Report abuse

@hessone,

Apparently you did not watch that Pens/Bruins game last night or you would be agreeing with tmac's observation. That team works its tail off night in and night out. Yes we have beaten them 3 times this year but two of those wins were without their two best players. They are winning games through effort right now as at least 1/4 of their team is from their AHL affiliate.

If the Caps played as hard night in and night out as the Pens they would most likely be #1 in the East right now as they would be killing opponents with the talent they have but instead they come out consistantly and give 20 or 40 minute efforts. If you can't see that then you really are wearing the rose colored glasses.

Posted by: PhilR | March 6, 2011 1:32 PM | Report abuse

You are annoying hessone. Give the constant cheer leading over nothing a rest. We get it. You like the Caps and think that everything management does is great. No need for you to repeat it again and again.

Sure gets old. :)

Posted by: rblatch45 | March 6, 2011 11:37 AM |

-------------

what's worse than the constant bashing tmac2yao and others post non-stop ?

folks like you that feel they have to defend these negative posters.

the post was directed at tmac2yao's CONSTANT whining. i think he'll be man enough to defend himself.

if i criticize the caps, i'll do so and move on, not dwell over everything they do wrong.

have a good game this afternoon and enjoy.

Posted by: hessone | March 6, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

The dichotomy is killing me.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | March 6, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse


The dichotomy is killing me.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | March 6, 2011 1:41 PM |

----------

what to do at the fork in the road ?

take the road that leads to higher ground.

Posted by: hessone | March 6, 2011 1:45 PM | Report abuse

@hessone -

your constant whining about tmac's constant whining is just as annoying. guess what's so great about the computer, there's this little device that allows you to SCROLL past anything you don't want to read.

you are not the savior of the CI board. if tmac or anyone else wants to whine, let them. if you don't like it, don't read it. but the fact that you think you have to constantly post your "defense" for the caps from whiners makes you just as annoying as the people who you consider "negative all the time"

here's something i like to do. i will look to see who posted it before i take the time to read it i suggest you try the same.

it's great that you're a great, passionate and positive caps fan but don't try to force everyone to be like you by pointing out and whining about, whiners.

from now on, don't read what tmac or other so called negative whiners say and you'll be much happier. move on.

Posted by: natresgroup | March 6, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

@all

the rags are leading 4 : 0 ...

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | March 6, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Wow...what is going on in Philly? Perhaps they're suffering from the 09-10 Caps Syndrome?

Posted by: RITdude | March 6, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse


... maybe because I am routing for Philly ?..

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | March 6, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Two and a half hours to go, man I hope they don't come out flat as I really think it will be a long night if they do.

Any word on the starting goalie for this evening??

Posted by: PhilR | March 6, 2011 2:25 PM | Report abuse

What are the links to watch live online?

Posted by: capsfan5252 | March 6, 2011 2:28 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR

I think the question people pose is how the Pens, who supposedly always work harder than the Caps and are more talented than the Caps, allow the Caps to have a 10-0-2 in their last 12 games against the Pens. (The postseason results are not on point in this argument because the topic is only about hard work in the regular season and talent. If the Pens work that much harder in the postseason then that would mean that they actually are not really working that hard in the regular season)

Unless the Caps are just extraordinarily luck, usually the team that is more talented and is working harder than the opposing team wins. They especially wouldn't allow the other team to go 10-0-2 over a 12 game span.

Since the Caps are 10-0-2 against the Pens over the last 12 games, had a better regular season record than them the past two years, and are about equivalent this year, one would have to assume that either the Caps do work as hard as the Pens in the regular season or that the Caps are just a lot more talented. If the Caps are a lot more talented, then that would be even better because usually the work ethic in the playoffs becomes relatively equal as most players work hard in the playoffs.

In addition, I understand the Pens have had bad injuries the past 2 months, but the results are taken over the past 2 1/2 years, so that doesn't answer the results when the Pens were healthy.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 6, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

@ all

Rags 5 : 0

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | March 6, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

sg, you clearly read what I wrote last night and recognize the same paradox.

Again, I don't get it: my eyes tell me the Pens are a much more consistently hard-working team, even when not reduced by injuries to such a degree.

capsf, try

http://www.atdhenet.tv/

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | March 6, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Callahan with 4.

All Rags, Philly looks bad.

Posted by: digster1013 | March 6, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

And Rangers look good, yikes.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | March 6, 2011 2:45 PM | Report abuse

sgm3,

If you read my post I clearly state that if the Caps played with the same tenacity as the Pens game in and game out that they would most likely be 1st in the East because they would be detroying teams due to their TALENT. So I'm really unsure as to why you directed that post at me.

Posted by: PhilR | March 6, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Rhino, I like the Rooting Instructions, but we should want the Rangers to lose whenever possible IMO (it sounds like too late for today). The Caps really do not want to match up with them in the playoffs. If, by some miracle, they miss the playoffs, it is good news for the Caps.

Posted by: zmega | March 6, 2011 2:51 PM | Report abuse

PhilR, the point is sorta just Pens v. Caps only:

How do the Caps have a 10-0-2 record over the last few against the hated Pens?

talent: = (roughly)
work/efforting: PENS (to the eye, by a large margin)
luck/refs (cough, cough): should be equal, I would argue it probably HASN'T been

It's not an attack on anyone, it's a question: so how are the Caps doing it?

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | March 6, 2011 2:55 PM | Report abuse

steve_in_gp,

I would dare say that the Pens do not have the top six forward talent that the Caps do and that would be the main reason the Caps have been able to do it. The Pens are the deepest in the league at the center position IMO but their top six wingers leave a lot to be desired.

Posted by: PhilR | March 6, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Bob Gould for coach.

Posted by: heathdog1119 | March 6, 2011 3:01 PM | Report abuse

@ all

Rags 6 : 0

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | March 6, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

@all

Rags 7 : 0

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | March 6, 2011 3:06 PM | Report abuse

You are annoying hessone. Give the constant cheer leading over nothing a rest. We get it. You like the Caps and think that everything management does is great. No need for you to repeat it again and again.

Sure gets old. :)

Posted by: rblatch45

Bravo.

Posted by: underpants2 | March 6, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR,

I think that's fair:

the talent is not equally distributed throughout the teams, and the Caps are unbalanced - towards the offense/scoring (and doing so a specific, non-gritty way).

That would certainly point to the Caps having regular season dominance (when wide-open hockey is played) and playoff difficulty (when the Pens dominate, never mind the Caps having been up in the most recent series).

BUT if the above is true, then

1) the Pens ain't REALLY playing as hard as they can during the regular season (namely, they aren't playing "playoff hockey"), and

D) it doesn't explain this year, when the Caps have played terribly offensively overall (the Pens' injuries would then be the answer for this year).

(Man, the Rangers have hung some tough numbers on a couple decent teams this year. The difference being, they've only demolished the Flyers once. Once.)

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | March 6, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

@ all

End of game Rags 7 : 0 Philly ...

what an embarassing loss ...

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | March 6, 2011 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Both sides repeating the same junk overandoverandover gets old.

Observing is easy: determining causes/factors is interesting.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | March 6, 2011 3:11 PM | Report abuse

@heathdog1119

I don't know of their coaching abilities, but you sure have been throwing some good names out there lately and I, too, think we'd be better served with a coach other than BB.

@rhino

It's become too much of a hassle trying to call for BB's ouster three times daily, and I can't let the man inconvenience me more than he already does. Besides, DJK can theoretically play again, which was what set me off (again) in the first playce. So I'm relieving myself of the burden, and Carthage can rest a little easier

Get back on the right track, Rock Star, and GO CAPS!

Posted by: vermontcaps | March 6, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

stevie_in_gp,

Exactly, the injuries are the reason for this season IMO. And the Pens do play a playoff style of hockey during the regular season, their forechecking/backchecking is just amazing to watch. The opposing team never has a chance to just skate freely, they are always being pestered by someone. Just wish the Caps would adopt that type of tenacity, they have the talent and it would be really fricking fun to watch!

Posted by: PhilR | March 6, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Ah, but PhilR, back to the paradox: if the Pens play a full-effort playoff style of hockey in the regular season, then how are the Caps better than them over the last 2+ years?

(I would argue the Caps SOMETIMES play a grittier style than we give them credit for, but only very inconsistently - and often against the Pens.)

But I agree about those bastages, and yesterday against the Bruins was a great example of what they do. Annoying - both the style of play and praising them - but admirable.

And Semin is kinda the epitome of what you are talking about: he's actually a pretty big dude, and can be incredible on both ends when he does play with that tenacity/physicality, but it's clearly just not who he is.

Could any coach get it out of him?

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | March 6, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

@stevie_in_gp

.. if someone is injured even the best coach is helpless ...

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | March 6, 2011 3:33 PM | Report abuse

stevie_in_gp,

Semin is a head case for sure but I think a coach who has won the Cup and demands that type of play could get him to live up to his potential but who knows? That is why I have been advocating for either Bob Hartley or Larry Robinson to be the next bench boss. Or, if you really want to go to the extreme of someone demanding things of his players you bring in that lunatic Mike Keenan (although that would be too drastic IMO).

Posted by: PhilR | March 6, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Along with the Penguins, the Rangers are yet another team with far greater overall work ethic than the Capitals. The list of teams that consistently work harder than the Caps is pretty lengthy though so it probably makes more sense to try to pinpoint teams that the Caps typically work harder than. That would be a pretty short list.

When it comes to forechecking, a sense of urgency in their own end, sacrificing their bodies, etc..., the Rangers are simply on another level compared to the Caps.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 6, 2011 3:43 PM | Report abuse

And I wonder how much of the work ethic disparity has to do with the differences in personalities of various coaches and the demands and expectations placed on players by those coaches.

Boudreau has admitted himself that he had poor work ethic as a player and cited that as one of the reasons that he couldn't stick around longer in the NHL. Traits like that typically stay with an individual forever and rub off on the people around them.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 6, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

A lot is discussed about the work ethic ...

... what about the loss of the Flyers - no work ethic at all?

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | March 6, 2011 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Well, the Flyers got outworked today but they are typically another hard-working team.

You can add them to the lengthy list of teams that work harder than the Caps.

Penguins
Rangers
Flyers
...

Let's keep adding to it...

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 6, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse

... in my view it is never one-dimensional - a lot of factors are relevant ...
... and a team which wins the President Trophy has a lot going right over 82 games ... even the so called work ethic ...

however, what happens in the play offs is another chapter, but at the moment, people are discussing the regular season ...

... with all due respect BB is quite successful during the regular season ..

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | March 6, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Bruins
Red Wings
Pretty much the entire Western Conference
etc...

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 6, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Good to see the Caps aren't the only team that the Rags can smoke 7-0.

Posted by: seth_malaguerra | March 6, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

FCKoeln1,

You can not tell me that you think these guys are giving a 60 minute effort every game this season or last can you? I think I can probably count on one hand the amount of 60 minute efforts I have seen this season. The Caps really on talent as opposed to effort IMO and that will get wins in the regular season as they are an extremely talented group.

Posted by: PhilR | March 6, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

... and the Flyers are a team with high work ethic ... ;-)


however, I will rock the white today - its a riesling, 2007, Bockenau/Nahe

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | March 6, 2011 3:59 PM | Report abuse

There is probably 1 team, maybe 2, out West that the Caps work as hard as but I'm not even sure of that much.

Even the relatively soft teams out West are used to getting pushed around by the rest of the conference and as a result, are tougher than they appear.

Look at the utter dominance of the West vs the East: http://www.nhl.com/ice/standings.htm?type=xve#&navid=nav-stn-east

Only Minnesota is below .500 against the East and they are only a game below.

I'm going to guess that this dominance has more to do with work ethic and physicality than just skill.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 6, 2011 3:59 PM | Report abuse

FCKoeln1,

You can not tell me that you think these guys are giving a 60 minute effort every game this season or last can you? I think I can probably count on one hand the amount of 60 minute efforts I have seen this season. The Caps really on talent as opposed to effort IMO and that will get wins in the regular season as they are an extremely talented group.

Posted by: PhilR | March 6, 2011 3:58 PM

PhilR for the win!

You nailed it, buddy.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 6, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR

You are right, however:

... no guys are giving a 60 minute effort every game ... as e.g. the Flyers have shown today

q.e.d.

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | March 6, 2011 4:02 PM | Report abuse

In the last post....

really should be rely, sometimes my fingers get ahead of me....

Posted by: PhilR | March 6, 2011 4:07 PM | Report abuse

You win some and you lose some, and sometimes you win big and sometimes you lose big. That's what the Flyers-Rangers game showed today.

Posted by: seth_malaguerra | March 6, 2011 4:08 PM | Report abuse

FCKoeln1,

Others are certainly giving more than a handful of 60 minute efforts to this point in the season.:)

Posted by: PhilR | March 6, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I know it's been said before, but the Caps want nothing of the Rangers in the playoffs.

Posted by: Doom_and_Gloom | March 6, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

tmac - I get you (as always) and see the same thing.

But you aren't saying anything you haven't said a hundred times (more?) before.

Those are observations, not causes and factors.

I want to know why.

I'm as interested in whether a different coach could get more out of this team than Budreau, and whether the GM has put together a relatively soft team because he is incapable - by temperment - of doing otherwise.

And despite beginning the discussion yesterday, you never addressed your sense of why the Caps are so successful against the Pens, despite being far less hard-working and only marginally more talented, skill-wise.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | March 6, 2011 4:36 PM | Report abuse

PSA:

"TV: CSN, NHLN"

The game today is not on NHL Network. What is on is a replay of the series against MTL. What is this some cruel joke, Carrera?

Posted by: ThisGuy | March 6, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

1st Place again! Hey this faceoff article is good entertainment but not totally thought out (or important for that matter). Steckel averaged about 10 FOs a game winning about 6. Now he's being replaced by a guy that wins 5/10. Net loss of 1 face-off per game. Notice Steckle is near the bottom of the top 20 face-off guys, in attempts. He was a 4th liner. Now with Arnott in the line-up, Johansson is taking less attemps so we are probably likely to win more as a team. We will miss him short handed though. Now lets go beat the Lightning!

Posted by: floridianschteve | March 6, 2011 9:02 PM | Report abuse

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