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I Asked Capitals Centers How To Win Faceoffs. Here’s What Kuznetsov & More Said

Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov and more stars provided some insight into what goes into winning faceoffs at the NHL level.



ARLINGTON, V.A. — In one way or another, faceoffs are an art form in the game of hockey. And over the course of career, Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov has become an expert.

Kuznetsov has taken 7,860 draws over his 10 years with the Capitals, and he's having one of his best years in the dot this season with a face-off percentage of 47.6, the highest it's been since 2015-16.

There's no denying the importance of winning faceoffs. Won draws can lead to scoring chances in the o-zone, keep the puck out of harm's way in the d-zone or help immensely on special teams. Of course, there's a lot that goes into winning, especially against renowned centers like Patrice Bergeron and Claude Giroux.

As an experienced top-line center, Kuznetsov offered golden words of advice for pivots, and shared his secret to taking draws.

"Hit it as hard as you can," Kuznetsov advised, then broke out into a grin.

When I asked if that's all there really is to it, he laughed again, "That's it, yeah!"

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Dylan Strome added some additional insight and spent time working on his face-offs over the summer. He has won 48.2 percent of his draws this year, and said that having good linemates also helps in winning those draws.

"My wingers help me and lot in the battles…  I think just paying attention to detail and getting in there and working at it," Strome noted.

Marcus Johansson, who plays wing but has also played center over the course of his career, explained that the face-off is "a big game within a game," and that "a lot" of factors go into winning — to the point where he couldn't pinpoint just one.

"It's kind of a mind game, too. If you start winning a couple, it almost feels easy and you feel like you have an advantage over the guy because you're starting to guess what they're doing," Johansson said. "And the other way around, you can start losing a couple, so there's a lot to it. There's some guys in this league that are just unbelievable at it in all different ways from just being strong and timing it well to outsmarting the guys as well."