The 2012-2013 Philadelphia Flyers season was an utter failure. The goaltending was shaky, the defense was injury prone, and the offense was streaky. Forgotten in the endeavor that was the 2012-2013 season is the Flyers’ struggle in the face-off circle.
The ultimate goal of a defense is to prevent goals, usually by keeping the puck out of their zone. To facilitate this, a face-off win is paramount. On the flip side, a face-off win in the offensive zone will start the offensive maneuvers necessary to score (and win). Simply put, the Flyers struggled to win face-offs, and as such struggled to score/prevent scoring.
With a success rate of 54.5 percent, Captain Claude Giroux was the only Flyers player to win more than half of their face-offs (not including players who saw less than 100 face-offs). Giroux handled 1182 face-offs, the most of any player in the league, with Sean Couturier handling the second most at 553. Couturier won just 43.9 percent of his face-offs, down from the 47 percent victory rate he posted in his 2011-2012 rookie season.
The Flyers will be looking for former Tampa Bay Lightning star Vincent Lecavalier to continue his magic in the face-off circle, as he won 54.4 percent of the 742 face-offs he saw last season. The inclusion of Lecavalier will likely reduce the number of face-offs Giroux will have to take, given the line assignments.
While he will help, the introduction of Lecavalier will not be enough to solve the Flyers’ face-off woes. Players like Matt Read will need to increase their skill in their circle, as Read won just 29.2 percent of the 48 face-offs he saw last season. If the Flyers hope to compete throughout the 2013-2014 season, no faults can be overlooked, face-offs included.