During training camp the Rangers took an innovative approach to addressing their long-standing history of abysmal faceoff numbers, bringing in retired NHL linesman Pierre Racicot to work with the team’s players who line up at the dots.
No disrespect to Racicot, but he should give the Rangers their money back.
The Rangers were a deplorable 13-for-54 (24.1 win percentage) on faceoffs in Monday’s 2-1 overtime win at Toronto. Since their 31-for-51 showing in the season opener against the Capitals, the Rangers have progressively posted worse numbers from the dots.
Through their first four games, the Rangers own a 43.4 win percentage — which ranks third-to-last in the NHL.
Brett Howden, who was traded to Vegas in the offseason, led the Rangers with a 46.6 percent faceoff-win percentage last season. The Rangers haven’t had a player break even since 2017-18, when Mika Zibanejad won 50.8 percent of his draws.
Zibanejad has taken a team-high 67 faceoffs this season, and he leads the Rangers with 25 wins. Zibanejad also has taken the most faceoffs on the power play, winning 8 of 17, as well as a team-high 25 offensive-zone draws.
Kevin Rooney has taken the second-most draws, 42, and he has won 50 percent of them. Filip Chytil (50 percent), Ryan Strome (48.5 percent) and Barclay Goodrow (39.1 percent) round out the Rangers’ top five draw takers.
The Rangers travel to Nashville to face the Predators on Wednesday before heading back to Canada to take on the Senators for the back end of their first four-game road trip of the season.
Following Monday’s overtime win over the Maple Leafs, the Rangers improved to 1-1 in the extra period this season. It was also their third straight OT win against Toronto, dating to March 23, 2019.
“Overtime is just trading chances,” Zibanejad said Monday night. “They certainly had theirs but we had a couple as well. I feel like we just got to take advantage of your chances when you get it and we’re the team that did at the end of the day.”
Goaltender Igor Shesterkin recorded 40 or more saves Monday for the seventh time in his NHL career, and is now 9-0-0 when making 36-plus saves. His 40-save performance at Toronto marked the third time he has made 40 or more saves while allowing one goal or fewer.