Photo by Brooke Novak via Wikimedia Commons, creative commons license
For only the second time in 13 years, the Florida Panthers are above 50% in face off percentage at 51.9%, at success rate that has them sitting at a pretty #5 in the league. FO% is a somewhat obscure statistic, it really doesn't translate into winning if you win more then 50% of the faceoffs you take, nor do you win a shiny medal if you are #1 in the category, but FO% should not be discarded as a arbitrary measure of success. Want proof? Alright, the four teams ahead of us in the category are Detroit, Washington, San Jose and Vancouver, teams who have firmly taken hold of playoff berths and each are legitimate contenders. And then there's the Panthers...
Lets look at it this way. San Jose is #2 in the category, but is signficant because they have the fewest points of teams ahead of the Panthers in FO% with 62 points. Shall we compare centers? Why yes, lets do!
San Jose Sharks Florida Panthers
Joe Thornton 54.1% Stephen Weiss 54%
Joe Pavelski 54.8% Mike Santorelli 48.6%
Logan Couture 51.2% Michael Frolik 41.7%
Torrey Mitchell 49.4% Marty Reasoner 54.9%
Scott Nichol 60.2% Shawn Matthias 49.4%
So what? We've got some centers with comparable numbers to those of San Jose, and yet our centers are low salaried nobodies compared to a very, very solid San Jose squad. An explanation? You don't have to be a NHL star to work hard and win your faceoffs, your team doesn't have to be in the top five in points to be a top five face off team! How about this, since the last time the Panthers ended above 50% (50.7% in 05-06), we have averaged over 4 years at 48.6%, good for the the bottom 5 in the league this year! Thank you Dale Tallon for bringing in Marty Reasoner and Mike Santorelli, who have not only been good in face offs but in every other area of play this season.
FO% is an important statistic, come to think of it. Teams who are sporting percentages better then 50% are playoff teams or, like the Panthers, are ever improving teams (yup, NYI and NJD count). Teams below 50% are kinda treading water and many are not exactly a lock for the playoffs. So admire our face off efficiency and enjoy the ride during this glorious rebuild, Panthers faithful!
Hold your horses everybody, WTF is that?!?!? There's someone on the Panthers who's 100% on face offs!! That would be none other then Dennis Wideman! Yup, that's right, He's one of only 10 defensemen to win a faceoff this year, way to capitalize on the chance Denny!