While Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz fielded questions from reporters about his team's 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, he asked a rhetorical question of his own.
“How many faceoff goals are we going to give up?” Trotz wondered aloud.
Jaden Schwartz's goal, scored five seconds after Jori Lehtera bested Eric Fehr in the faceoff circle, was the fifth faceoff goal the Capitals have allowed this season and third in the past four games.
As detailed in Hockey Plays and Strategies, written by former Capital Ryan Walter and Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Johnston, Washington employed the standard "Five Across" method in lining up for and defending this particular draw:
When C loses the draw, he stays with the other team's center. RW shoots through the inside of the circle and pressures the point. LW moves out to the high slot and is ready to go after the other D if a pass is made. D1 and D2 stay with their forwards.
The Capitals, for the most part, run the play correctly. Fehr (C) ties up Lehtera immediately, pushing him toward the high slot. Joel Ward (RW) charges at Carl Gunnarsson, who then passes the puck to Kevin Shattenkirk. Jason Chimera (LW) shadows Shattenkirk to prevent the shot, which gets through, and Karl Alzner (D) is beaten inside by Schwartz, allowing for the easy rebound goal.
Here are the rest of the goals in question:
Cam Atkinson, Nov. 11 against Columbus
Elias Lindholm, Nov. 8 against Carolina
Jason Garrison, Nov. 1 against Tampa Bay
Matt Irwin, Oct. 14 against San Jose
The Capitals are the very definition of middling in regards to winning defensive-zone draws, ranking 15th of 30 teams at 51.1 percent, slightly above the league average of 50.8 percent.
Interestingly enough, Nicklas Backstrom, who lost three of the five faceoffs that led to the goals highlighted above, is one of the NHL's better players in that regard at even strength with a 61 percent success rate, fifth-best in the league.
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