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Experience pays off for Spezza at the faceoff dots

Thursday, 09.11.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
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Experience pays off for Spezza at the faceoff dots
Senators centre Jason Spezza has been among the best faceoff men in the NHL this season.

by Todd Anderson

This season Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza has been among the top faceoff men in the NHL. Heading into last night's game against the Atlanta Thrashers, Spezza ranked fourth among NHL centres, with at least 200 draws to their credit, with a 57.3 per cent success rate. Experience has played a big part in his success.

"It's about taking more draws and feeling more comfortable," Spezza says. "When I first came (to Ottawa), we never practised it. Now it's a regular part of the routine. (Faceoffs) are a bit of a mental game. You have to fight for your area. (New Jersey Devil) Johnny Madden and I fought quite a bit for space last game. When I came (into the NHL) three years ago, I always put my stick down first. It was a respect thing."

Spezza says that's not the case anymore. NHL rules stipulate that visiting players must put their sticks down first during draws. Spezza makes sure that's what happens at Scotiabank Place.

"(Colorado Avalanche captain) Joe Sakic wouldn't put his stick down first (during a game at Scotiabank Place on Oct.19)," Spezza recalls with a smile. "I told him to put his stick down and I would put mine down first when we go back to play them in Colorado in three years."

Senators assistant coach Greg Carvel routinely works with the Senators centres on gamedays to get their timing down for faceoffs. He says talented players like Spezza are the ones who seem to thrive at the faceoff dot.

"Definitely there's skill involved, " Carvel says. "The guys who have a knack for it have good hand-eye co-ordination and are good with the puck. Jason is one of the better faceoff guys in the league because of his ability."

Carvel adds that success in faceoffs is essential to enjoy success as a team.

"Especially on special teams and late in games," Carvel says. "It's a lot better to have the puck than to have to go and chase around for it. Faceoffs are one of those little things that makes a difference."

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STANDINGS

ATLANTIC DIVISION
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
3 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
4 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
5 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
6 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
7 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
8 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Karlsson 60 15 32 3 47
B. Ryan 56 15 30 8 45
K. Turris 60 15 28 -4 43
M. Hoffman 57 23 16 23 39
M. Stone 58 15 24 11 39
M. Zibanejad 58 15 18 2 33
C. MacArthur 53 13 13 -10 26
M. Michalek 55 11 14 -1 25
D. Legwand 58 8 14 -3 22
A. Chiasson 54 9 12 -8 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Anderson 13 11 7 .927 2.37
R. Lehner 9 12 3 .905 3.02