It’s early, but it’s an interesting trend. In previous years, we’ve heard criticism of the faceoff-get-off model, where FOGOs have become so specialized that they can’t do anything but faceoff. So does this year signal a reversal of the trend? Are we heading back to an era of do-it-all midfielders?
It’s early in the season. Maybe this percentage comes down. Maybe teams are just giving up better looks than normal off faceoff wins. Or maybe faceoff specialists and their coaches have put extra effort into making those players more of an offensive weapon.
Fewer wing GBs suggests that more faceoffs are being won cleanly by the FOGOs. If that means that they are also getting into a position where they can take better shots, then that might lead to a higher shooting percentage. It’s hard to imagine that a 0.7% increase in FOGO wins could lead to a 10 percentage point improvement in shooting accuracy though.
But this decline in wing play is so steady and so long-lasting that it’s clear that something is going on here.
Maybe not aggressive, more like effective
As I go back farther in the data set, the best year for raw FOGO point totals was 2017. But they took more shots that year and turned the ball over quite a bit more as well.
As a result, the efficiency metrics peg 2017 as one of the least efficient years for faceoff specialists. Maybe that is part of the reason for the hyper-specialization in the first place. Now, even though they aren’t shooting as much as 2017, the decline in turnovers and the increase in shooting percentage produces the high-water mark in efficiency that we are seeing this year.
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