How Blackhawks’ Max Domi has turned into one of NHL’s faceoff leaders
How Domi has turned into one of NHL’s faceoff leaders originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Max Domi was drafted as a center with the No. 12 overall pick in 2013 and has played there for the majority of his NHL career, but he’s never been a great faceoff guy. That is, until this season.
Not only has he improved his numbers at the faceoff circle, but he’s near the top of the league as the calendar flips to November. He has 96 wins and 49 losses for a win percentage of 66.4, which is by far the highest number of his career.
Domi’s career faceoff win percentage going into the season was 46.6. That’s a significant improvement, and he quickly credited Blackhawks player development coach Yanic Perreault as one of the reasons why. Perreault is statistically the NHL’s best faceoff man of all time.
“When you have someone like Yanic that helps you out — one of the best ever, if not the best ever — gives you little tips here and there about playing a position,” Domi said. “It’s a whole game within the game, and some of it is mental but a lot of it’s pretty simple stuff, just positioning, where to put your stick and whatnot. He’s helped a lot with me personally.”
It also helps when Jonathan Toews is on the roster and can assist from his perspective. Toews is one of the league leaders this season in faceoff win percentage as well at 62.9 percent with 110 wins and 65 losses, and he has been one of the best at the dot since he arrived in the NHL.
“He’s probably the best, I mean, one of the best top three for sure, in the last decade or so,” Domi said. “He knows how to win faceoffs, and he’s helping us all over I’m sure too, so that helps a lot. And then you look at two wingers that jump in and help you out too, that makes a big difference as well.”
Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson was an assistant coach in Montreal when Domi was there, and he didn’t see this kind of production from the dot there.
“Max is skyrocketing in the circle from what I saw in Montreal,” Richardson said. “He was an OK center there, draw-wise, but now he’s really dominant. It looks like he’s really bearing down. Max has taken it to another level and I think it just adds to his game.”
As a team, the Blackhawks rank No. 1 this season in faceoff win percentage at 59.2. For context, here’s where the Blackhawks have finished over the previous seven seasons:
2021-22: 16th (49.6)
2020-21: 29th (46.3)
2019-20: 17th (49.9)
2018-19: 20th (49.5)
2017-18: 21st (49.3)
2016-17: 29th (47.5)
2015-16: 22nd (49.3)
The last time the Blackhawks broke 50 percent was the 2014-15 season, where they ranked No. 5 at 52.1 percent and went on to win the Stanley Cup. Faceoffs matter, but it’s more so situationally.
For Domi, when you’re on a line with Patrick Kane, starting a shift with the puck could go a long way.
“He’s happier, for sure,” Domi smiled. “It’s a possession game, right? You want to start with it, definitely. It consumes your energy for sure when you’ve got to chase the puck down and get it back. It’s just something that, it’s a small detail of the game but also a huge part of the game because you want to throw up possession and especially when you have a guy like Kane or [Andreas Athanasiou] on your line, you want those guys to have the puck on their sticks, so that’s a big part of it.”
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