Detroit — Jeff Blashill gets a lot of information sent to him being an NHL coach, but one piece last summer stood out.
In relation to faceoffs, Blashill was left shaking his head with this advice.
“I had one analytics guy tell me you should be at 49.5 percent,” Blashill said. “You should be at 49.5 percent in order to maximize. You should lose more than you should win. If you’re 49.5 you’re perfect, if you’re 50.5 you’re not as good, so I’m not sure.”
The Red Wings have won a lot more faceoffs than they’ve lost the last two games. They won 40-of-62 (65 percent) Friday against Vancouver, and Sunday against Calgary the Red Wings dominated winning 39-of-55 (71 percent).
“Certainly having the puck, we’re a team that wants the puck,” Blashill said. “We don’t want to give the puck up, so starting with the puck I believe helps out.
“That (analytics) guy didn’t.”
There are two areas, in Blashill’s mind, that faceoffs are especially critical.
“Power play and penalty kill,” Blashill said. “Specialty team faceoffs are even more important than 5-on-5.”
So, what goes into being an effective face-off person? Skill, effort, technique?
“It’s basically the guy who gets away with the most,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “Cheating wins. That’s how faceoffs are won right now. If you’re a good cheater, you’re a good face-off man.”
Said forward Joakim Andersson: “You have to try to do some tricks here and there.”
Zetterberg learned a lot from Kris Draper, who Zetterberg regards as one of the best face-off men he’s ever seen.
“The best cheater as a centerman,” Zetterberg said of Draper. “When I came into the league I looked at what he did and got advice from him. One of his first pieces of advice was cheat as much as you can.”
Other than cheating, Zetterberg feels momentum is a huge ingredient.
“You win the first couple of faceoffs, you get in a good groove and you get confidence and the other guy probably starts thinking about it,” Zetterberg said. “Sometimes you have 50-50 pucks and if the wingers are able to get to those, you start with the puck and it’s a lot easier.”
Jumping into the lineup
With Jonathan Ericsson (upper body) still doubtful for Tuesday’s game against New Jersey, defenseman Jakub Kindl likely is to play a second consecutive game.
Kindl played Sunday after being a healthy scratch the last eight games and was fine in 14 minutes 30 seconds of ice time, seeing time on the power play, and playing 21 shifts.
“It’s the hardest thing to do,” Blashill said of jumping into the lineup after sitting out so long, believing it’s easier for minor league call-ups to jump right into the lineup rather than players who’ve been scratched.
“When we sat Smitty (Brendan Smith) for a while, when Smitty got back in we lived with a couple of games where they weren’t his best games but we knew in the end we’d get better out of him and we did.
“It’s kind of the same thing (with Kindl). In the first period he struggled a little bit but as the game went along he did a good job. He’ll be even better tomorrow than last night.”
Blashill wouldn’t commit to a lineup, hinting there could be a change among the forwards, with recent call-up Tomas Nosek a possibility to crack the lineup.
… Blashill said he’d name a starting goaltender after Tuesday’s morning skate.
Devils at Red Wings
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit
Outlook: New Jersey rallied to defeat the Red Wings 3-2 in overtime Dec. 11…The Devils (16-13-5, 37 points) are 4-3-3 in their last 10 games…G Cory Schneider (2.11 GAA, .926 SVS) is having an outstanding season.