At one point in early April, Claude Giroux strung together a fairly dominant 10 games in the faceoff circle, winning just under 60 percent of his draws over that span. After posting seasons of 49.5% and 50% in his first 2 full seasons in the NHL, it got me wondering if he was on his way to a tangible, sustainable improvement. One of the things I admire about Sidney Crosby is that he entered the league quite poor in the faceoff department, at roughly 45%. He then worked at it and now normally comes in at a good 55-56%.
Giroux finished the season as the Flyers’ best faceoff man with a 53.7% rate, which was good for 22nd in the league. It’s a respectable number but would put him towards the rear of the pack among teams’ #1 faceoff guys. That 53.7% is certainly an improvement over his previous two seasons, but I was curious if he had shown improvement throughout the course of this campaign.
The data suggests that he did:
I plotted out Giroux’s faceoff percentage over the course of the entire season. Unfortunately, it is only faceoff percentage and does not account for draws taken. I would love to take that into consideration as well but that data is not easily gathered over the course of an entire season. Full disclosure, I removed the games on March 6 and 10 as this was when Giroux sustained a hand injury (which he denied), and Scott Hartnell ended up taking almost all of the faceoffs. For fear of skewing the data with a couple of games where Giroux ended up being zero, I decided to remove them.
Although I don’t believe the results show a dramatic trend, I do believe it is significant. You can see the trend line subtly rise from roughly 50% at the beginning of the season, moving towards the upper 50′s by the end of the year.
In fact, just quickly averaging the percentages I’ve used, Giroux went from 51.2% in the first half to 56.9% in the second half of the season. Additionally, right around the 60 game mark, you’ll also notice Giroux doesn’t have any performances above the trend line (although quite a few just below it). This would seem to fall in line with the hand injury he had which forced him to stop taking draws at one point.
I’m no statistician, but I think it’s safe to say that not only has Giroux improved from last year to this year, but he’s also improved throughout the course of this season. I’m not expecting him to become one of the top faceoff men in the league; but on a team with no real faceoff threat, any improvements Giroux makes in the dots would be gladly welcomed.