Hockey Jargon

The Art of Faceoffs: Mastering Possession in the Game of Hockey

Faceoffs play a crucial role in the game of hockey, determining which team gains possession of the puck at different points during a game. Whether you’re a diehard hockey fan or new to the sport, understanding the ins and outs of faceoffs is essential to fully appreciate the strategic elements of the game.

In this article, we will delve into the world of faceoffs, exploring their definition, significance, occasions that require them, and the rules and execution behind them. So, strap on your skates and get ready to learn!

to Faceoffs in Hockey

Definition and Significance of Faceoffs

At its core, a faceoff is a method used to restart play after certain events occur in a game of hockey. It involves two opposing players from opposing teams standing face to face on an imaginary line, known as the faceoff dot.

The referee drops the puck between them, and both players attempt to gain control of it. The significance of faceoffs lies in the fact that the team that wins possession gains a crucial advantage, as they have the opportunity to create scoring chances, control the pace of the game, or kill precious time, depending on the situation.

Occasions that Require a Faceoff

There are several occasions throughout a game that require a faceoff. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones:


Start of a New Period: At the beginning of each period, whether it’s the first, second, or third, a faceoff is conducted at center ice. This gives both teams an equal chance to gain possession and set the tone for the upcoming period.

2. After a Goal is Scored: After a goal is successfully scored, the game is reset with a faceoff.

This allows the team that was just scored on to have an opportunity to regain momentum or for the team that scored to continue their dominance. 3.

Whistle due to Penalty or Infraction: When a penalty or infraction occurs, resulting in a stoppage of play, a faceoff takes place. This helps maintain fairness and allows both teams to reset and strategize their next moves.

4. Puck Shot out of the Rink: In some instances, the puck may be shot out of the rink, either intentionally or accidentally.

In such cases, a faceoff is held in the neutral zone, ensuring a fair opportunity for both teams to compete for possession.

Rules and Execution of Faceoffs

Determining the Faceoff Location

The location of a faceoff depends on the reason for it occurring. Let’s explore some of the key faceoff locations:


Faceoff Dots: The faceoff dots are positioned in various locations across the ice surface, including the center ice dot, the two blue line dots, and the dots closest to the goaltender. These dots serve as starting points for each faceoff, offering equal opportunities for both teams to gain control of the puck.

2. Center Ice Dot: As mentioned earlier, the center ice dot is used to start each period.

It is located at the center of the ice surface, equidistant from both teams’ goals. 3.

Blue Line Dots: The faceoff dots at the blue lines are used when a faceoff occurs after the puck has gone out of play. They are positioned just inside each team’s defensive zone and offer a fair and balanced opportunity for possession.

4. Faceoff Dots Closest to the Goaltender: These dots are used in specific situations, such as after icing or when a goaltender is pulled for an extra attacker.

They give the defensive team a slight advantage, being closer to their own net. Players’ Positions and Strategies

During a faceoff, different players have specific positions and strategies.

Let’s explore each of them:

1. Standing in a Faceoff: The two players taking the faceoff, known as centers, will stand on opposite sides of the faceoff dot.

They must place their feet on either side of the dot, ensuring a fair and balanced starting position. 2.

Centers: The role of the centers is to win possession of the puck for their team by using techniques such as quick reflexes, strong stick work, and body positioning. They aim to win the faceoff by either drawing the puck back to their teammates or pushing it forward into open ice.

3. Wingers: The wingers are positioned on the outside of the faceoff circle, close to the boards.

Their task is to read the play and react accordingly, supporting their center in gaining possession of the puck or defending against the opponent’s wingers. 4.

Drawing the Puck Back: One common technique used by centers is to try and draw the puck back to their teammates. This allows their team to gain immediate control and potentially launch an offensive attack.

5. Other Players’ Involvement: While centers and wingers are directly involved in the faceoff, other players on the ice also have a role to play.

Defensemen must anticipate the outcome of the faceoff and position themselves to either support their center or guard against the opposing team’s forwards.


Understanding faceoffs in hockey is fundamental to comprehending the strategic dynamics of the game. From the definition and significance of faceoffs to the rules and execution behind them, we’ve covered the essentials.

So, next time you watch a hockey game, pay close attention to these pivotal moments and appreciate the skill and strategy involved in gaining possession of the puck. Whether it’s the start of a new period, after a goal is scored, or any other occasion that requires a faceoff, now you can fully appreciate the impact that these plays have on the sport we all love.

Faceoff Violations and Penalties

Switching Players in Faceoffs

While faceoffs are essential for fair play and determining possession, there are certain rules and regulations that must be followed. One of these rules pertains to switching players during a faceoff.

Let’s delve into this faceoff violation and the role of the linesman in enforcing the rules. In an attempt to gain an advantage, teams may try to switch players during a faceoff.

However, this is not allowed and is considered a faceoff violation. The linesman, who is responsible for dropping the puck and ensuring a fair contest, closely monitors the players’ positions.

Any attempt to switch after the players have taken their respective positions is met with immediate penalties. Switching players during a faceoff can be tempting for teams as they may want a specific player taking the draw against a particular opponent.

However, the rules exist to ensure fairness, and by attempting to switch players, a team is trying to manipulate the system to their advantage.

Consequences and Penalties

Faceoff violations come with their fair share of consequences and penalties. Let’s take a closer look at the penalties that can arise from faceoff violations, primarily focusing on the delay of game penalty.

When a faceoff violation occurs, the offending team may face penalties, based on the severity of the violation and the intention behind it. One of the most common penalties resulting from faceoff violations is the delay of game penalty.

This penalty can be assessed when a team repeatedly commits faceoff violations or if a violation occurs in a critical game situation, such as a tied game in the final minutes. A delay of game penalty typically results in the offending team being short-handed, with one of their players being sent to the penalty box.

This penalty can last two minutes, and during this time, the penalized team must defend the goal with one less player. Additionally, the opposing team gains an advantage by having an extra player on the ice.

The delay of game penalty serves as a deterrent for teams attempting to manipulate faceoffs to their advantage. By penalizing violators, the rules of fair play are upheld, ensuring that all teams have an equal opportunity to succeed.

Faceoff Techniques and Winning Percentage

Faceoff Procedure and Execution

Winning faceoffs requires skill, agility, and precise execution. Let’s explore some key faceoff techniques that players employ to gain an edge in the battle for possession:


Strategies: Centers must have a variety of strategies in their repertoire to outsmart their opponents. They may opt for a forehand or backhand draw, depending on their comfort and the situation.

Additionally, centers often analyze the tendencies of their opponents, looking for clues that could aid them in securing possession. 2.

Timing the Puck: A critical aspect of winning faceoffs is timing the drop of the puck. Centers must anticipate the referee’s hand movement and aim to strike the puck at the perfect moment, gaining an advantage over their opponent.

3. Lifting Opponent’s Stick: To gain immediate control of the puck, centers may attempt to lift their opponents’ sticks as the puck drops.

By doing so, they hinder their opponent’s ability to make clean contact with the puck, increasing their chances of winning the faceoff. 4.

Kicking the Puck with the Skate: Another technique centers may employ is using their skate to redirect the puck in their favor. They can position their skate strategically, allowing them to kick the puck to their teammates or into open ice, giving their team a prime opportunity to gain possession.

Determining Faceoff Win

The determination of faceoff victories lies in the possession of the puck. Let’s explore how possession is determined and which player is credited with the faceoff win:


Possession of the Puck: To determine the winner of a faceoff, possession of the puck is crucial. The player who gains control and maintains possession after the initial contact with the puck is considered the winner.

2. First Contact with the Puck: In scenarios where both players make simultaneous contact with the puck or neither player gains full control, the general rule is that the attacking team is awarded possession.

This rule encourages offensive play and creates a fair balance between the two teams. 3.

Offensive Zone Faceoffs: In the offensive zone, winning a faceoff can provide scoring opportunities. The offensive team has the advantage of establishing their plays and positioning their players accordingly, aiming to capitalize on the possession gained.

4. Defensive Zone Faceoffs: In the defensive zone, winning faceoffs becomes crucial for the defending team.

It allows them to break out of their own zone and alleviate pressure, preventing potential scoring chances for the opposing team. By executing techniques effectively and winning a higher percentage of faceoffs, teams can gain an advantage in terms of possession and controlling the flow of the game.

In conclusion, faceoffs are an integral part of hockey, determining possession and providing strategic opportunities for both teams. Understanding the rules, techniques, and consequences surrounding faceoffs contributes to a deeper appreciation of the game.

Whether it’s avoiding faceoff violations, employing strategies to win faceoffs, or analyzing faceoff win percentages, the intricacies behind these plays add excitement and complexity to the sport we all love.

Importance of Faceoff Wins

Debate on the Significance of Faceoff Percentage

The significance of faceoff wins in hockey has been a topic of debate among fans, players, and analysts. While faceoff wins can certainly impact the game, there is ongoing discussion regarding the correlation between faceoff percentage and the overall outcome of a game.

Let’s explore this debate, as well as the importance of neutral zone faceoffs. Some argue that faceoff wins have a direct impact on the game’s outcome.

Winning a higher percentage of faceoffs can provide teams with more opportunities for possession, control of the puck, and ultimately, the chance to create scoring opportunities. When a team consistently wins faceoffs, they spend less time defending in their own zone, increasing their chances of winning the game.

On the other hand, some argue that the significance of faceoff percentage is overstated. They contend that while winning faceoffs is important, it does not guarantee success.

Hockey is a dynamic sport, and there are numerous variables that can influence a game’s outcome. Factors such as turnovers, defensive strategies, goaltending performance, and special teams play all contribute to a team’s success or failure.

Additionally, the importance of neutral zone faceoffs cannot be overlooked. While offensive and defensive zone faceoffs are often emphasized, neutral zone faceoffs play a crucial role in the flow of the game.

Winning neutral zone faceoffs allows teams to either gain entry into the offensive zone or prevent the opposition from doing so. These faceoffs can dictate the pace of play and provide opportunities for teams to establish control and set up their offensive plays.

Statistical Analysis and Team Performance

Statistical analysis has shed light on the importance of faceoff wins and their impact on team performance. Teams that consistently win a higher percentage of faceoffs tend to have a better chance of making the playoffs and experiencing success in the postseason.

Possessing the puck and controlling play through faceoff wins can limit the scoring opportunities of opponents and yield a higher scoring advantage for the winning team. Possession of the puck is a vital aspect of hockey, as it allows teams to exert dominance and dictate the flow of the game.

By winning faceoffs, teams gain immediate control and increase their chances of sustaining offensive pressure, launching successful attacks, and generating scoring chances. Furthermore, faceoff wins can have a positive impact on special teams, such as power plays and penalty kills, where maintaining possession is crucial for success.

While faceoff win percentages alone do not guarantee victory, they contribute to a team’s overall performance. Teams that consistently win faceoffs put themselves in a favorable position, both in terms of possession and momentum.

It is important to recognize the significance of faceoff wins as part of a comprehensive team strategy and execution.

Miscellaneous Faceoff Information and Questions

Neutral Zone Faceoff after a Scrum

Scrum situations occur when a group of players from both teams clusters around the puck and engages in a physical battle to gain possession. In such instances, the referee may award a neutral zone faceoff to restart play.

This aims to restore fairness and provides both teams with an equal opportunity to gain possession. Neutral zone faceoffs after a scrum typically occur near the location where the scrum took place.

This allows teams to regroup, reset their game plan, and focus on gaining a strategic advantage. Neutral zone faceoffs in these situations can be particularly crucial, as they can swing the momentum in favor of one team and potentially lead to offensive opportunities.

Hand Batting and Goaltender Taking Faceoffs

Hand batting, where a player uses their hand to intentionally strike or redirect the puck during a faceoff, is strictly illegal in hockey. NHL rules state that any player who hand bats the puck during a faceoff will be assessed a minor penalty.

This rule is in place to maintain fairness and prevent any unfair advantage gained through hand batting. Additionally, goaltenders are not allowed to take faceoffs.

The NHL rulebook specifies that only players designated as centers are allowed to take faceoffs, eliminating the possibility of the goaltender having control over possession right from the faceoff. This ensures fairness and prevents teams from strategically utilizing their goaltenders’ skills during faceoffs.


Faceoffs play a significant role in the game of hockey, impacting possession, momentum, and strategic advantages. While the correlation between faceoff percentage and the game’s outcome remains a topic of debate, statistical analysis has shown that winning faceoffs can contribute to a team’s overall success.

Neutral zone faceoffs and penalties for hand batting elucidate that rules exist to maintain fairness and uphold the integrity of the game. By understanding the importance of faceoff wins, teams and fans can appreciate the skill, strategy, and impact that they have on the sport we all love.

In conclusion, faceoffs are integral to the game of hockey, determining possession, momentum, and strategic advantages. While there may be debates about the significance of faceoff percentage, statistical analysis has shown that winning a higher percentage of faceoffs can contribute to a team’s success.

Neutral zone faceoffs and penalties for hand batting highlight the importance of rules in maintaining fairness. Understanding the intricacies of faceoffs allows us to appreciate the skill, strategy, and impact they have on the sport.

So, the next time you watch a game, pay attention to faceoffs and recognize their crucial role in shaping the outcome.

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