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Vermette remains quick on the draw

Tuesday, 01.05.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
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Vermette remains quick on the draw
Ottawa Senators centre Antoine Vermette says the key factors behind winning faceoffs are timing and strength. Photo: A. Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC

by Todd Anderson

The importance of winning faceoffs is punctuated in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and Ottawa Senators centre Antoine Vermette has been among the NHL's best in that department.

In fact, Vermette, who has won 92 of his 145 draws (63.4 percent), boasts the highest percentage among active players. New York Islanders centre Mike Sillinger, who was eliminated from the playoffs by the Buffalo Sabres in Round 1, won 68 percent of his 122 faceoffs.

The multi-talented Vermette says he takes prides in winning draws, especially during the post-season.

"I always try to bring the best at this time of year. You're battling a little harder to win the faceoffs. I think little details make a big difference. Obviously, winning faceoffs when you need to win them can be a big difference in some situations. I take pride in it."

Working under the tutelage of Senators assistant coach Greg Carvel, Ottawa's centremen spent time on the ice after practices working on their faceoff techniques and also watched video of opponents in action.

"We watched video on New Jersey's guys, and before the Pittsburgh series, we did the same thing," Vermette says. "We try to see what their tendencies are and adjust to them as best we can."

While knowing the tendencies of the opponent on the other side of the faceoff dot helps, having faith in your own technique is the most important thing, Vermette says.

"Most of the time you're going to go with your best asset. Sometimes you feel more comfortable going with your backhand, but it depends. You might be going against a lefty who likes going on his forehand, or not. You read them. You have to go with your feeling."

Into his third NHL season, Vermette has learned how to get the advantage in the faceoff circle.

"Especially when it's a big faceoff, you always try to get as much space as you can," he says. "You put your feet where you're more comfortable, at the limit of it being legal. It's your responsibility, as well, to make sure the other centre is not cheating (by taking up space you're not supposed to). I don't think it's about cheating. On my part, I don't think I'm cheating. I'm just trying to time myself and be strong. That's a big part, too be strong on it."

Led by Vermette, the Senators rank third among playoff teams with a faceoff success rate of 53.6 percent. Only Detroit (54) and Dallas (53.8) rank higher. Having players throughout the lineup capable of winning draws is a big bonus.

"If you're facing a situation where you need a faceoff win, knowing there's a couple of guys who can stand up if you get thrown out, we can use that to our advantage," Vermette says. "It shows our diversity as players. We're in pretty good shape in that department."

Heading into Game 4 against New Jersey tomorrow, Vermette has one goal and two assists in the playoffs. He says he would like to score more, but he's committed to continue helping out in other ways, too.

"You don't have to score to make a difference at this time of year. If you do, it's great, but if you don't, you have to help battle the opponent in other ways."




1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
3 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
4 BOS 61 30 22 9 161 160 69
5 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
6 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
7 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
8 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43


B. Ryan 55 15 30 8 45
E. Karlsson 59 14 31 2 45
K. Turris 59 15 26 -5 41
M. Stone 57 14 23 9 37
M. Hoffman 56 21 15 22 36
M. Zibanejad 57 15 17 1 32
C. MacArthur 53 13 13 -10 26
M. Michalek 54 11 14 -2 25
D. Legwand 57 8 14 -2 22
A. Chiasson 53 9 12 -7 21
C. Anderson 13 11 7 .927 2.37
R. Lehner 9 12 3 .905 3.02