Ryan Kesler Has Been Everything the Anaheim Ducks Wanted, And More

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Oct 31, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler (17) and Dallas Stars left wing

Jamie Benn

(14) take a face-off in the third period at American Airlines Center. Anaheim beat Dallas 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

4. Faceoffs

Kesler’s faceoff prowess has been noted in both the power-play and penalty kill sections, but he has impacted the Ducks’ faceoff numbers dramatically. The Ducks were 20th in the NHL in faceoff win-percentage last season (49.2%), yet Anaheim now sits at 6th in the NHL (52.7%).

Kesler is 10th in the NHL in faceoff win percentage amongst centermen with at least 200 faceoffs and 5th among those who have taken 300 draws (56.2%). Getzlaf has taken a major rise in faceoff numbers this season, coming in at 18th among centermen with 200 draws (54.6%). This is a stark improvement from last season, when Getzlaf was 57th among faceoff leaders in faceoff win percentage (49.0%). The presence of Kesler allows Getzlaf to take less draws and allows Boudreau to deploy Getzlaf against an easier opponent in the faceoff circle. Kesler has taken 347 draws and won 195 of them, while Getzlaf has taken 271 and won 148.

Last season, the Ducks’ two most frequent faceoff takers were Getzlaf and Bonino, both of whom finished under 50% for the season. Bonino had a career faceoff win percentage of 47.0%, forcing Getzlaf to take the toughest faceoff assignments. Bonino currently has a faceoff win percentage of 46.2% in Vancouver, but Getzlaf is enjoying a career year in the faceoff circle. Taking draws has been an area of weakness for Getzlaf, but he’s thriving now that he does not have to take the toughest faceoffs.

Controlling faceoffs has become such an important part of today’s game. It’s integral to a successful special-teams unit, but winning key draws in the offensive and defensive zones in any situation can help protect leads or overcome deficits. The last five Stanley Cup champions were 3rd, 11th, 7th, 5th, and 3rd in the NHL in faceoff win percentage. This should come as no surprise: Kopitar, Toews, and Bergeron are three of the premier two-way centermen in the league, and all three are adept in the faceoff circle, helping their teams achieve those numbers.