The Colorado Avalanche has received a little criticism from this blog and others about the lack of face-off proficiency demonstrated by the team's centers so far this season.
Okay, a lot of criticism.
Not that the team hasn't deserved it, considering they began the year as one of the worst in face-off win percentage. Only Vancouver has sucked consistently worse.
But things seem to be turning around, and quickly. While the Avalanche spent most of the season's earliest games way below 50% in face-offs won, they have since begun to improve, and significantly.
You'll notice in the chart below how drastic the improvement has been over the past several games:
After failing to surpass 50% in any of the first ten games, the Avalanche has broken that barrier five times in the last seven. That's a significant improvement.
While the team is still third-from-last in the league, having won 478 of 1009 with an overall percentage of 47.4, they're on the verge of surpassing both Buffalo and Montreal (47.5 each). San Jose, topping the league with an even 55% is a little out of reach at this point, but the season is young.
Of the primary four centers on the team, Joe Sakic and Paul Stastny have now lifted their heads just above 50%. Super Joe has won 140 of 274 face-offs, or 50.91%. Son of Stastny is a little bit worse, having won 132 of 262, or 50.38%. Not doing so hot are the other two centers, Wyatt Smith and Tyler Arnason. Smith is 34-72 (47.22%), while Arny has been embarrassing himself pretty consistently with just 73 wins in 159 chances for a total percentage of 45.91.
Arny may be working on his talent in the circle, though, because last night against Minnesota, he won 10 of 14. Then again, he's been generally weak over the course of the season and still needs to practice his craft. He's no Yanic Perreault, that's for sure. Perreault, by the way, is 96-139 (69.07%!!) this season.
So the Avalanche, as a whole, is showing improvement in the face-off circle. Certain individuals are still weak, but a gradual overall improvement seems to be taking place. Considering that they're winning games anyway, this trend can only make them even more dominant. I hope.