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Beyond The Boards


Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 3:45 PM ET
By Kevin Snow - (@kwsnow) / BEYOND THE BOARDS
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In Tuesday’s game against Winnipeg, the Buffalo Sabres finished the night winning 50 of 75 faceoffs against the Jets. It was the highest single game total by the Sabres since the NHL started tracking faceoff stats in 1998, and the most by any team since Minnesota won 52 against Carolina on October 7, 2010.

Leading the way for Buffalo was the duo of Paul Gaustad (15-5) and Jason Pominville (12-2), who combined to go 27-7 in the game. The 12 wins were a career high for Pominville, who has quietly developed into one of the team’s most reliable faceoff artists. 

After not even taking faceoffs during his junior career or in the minors, Pominville started taking them last year when the Sabres were battling through injuries to regular faceoff workhorses like Derek Roy and Tim Connolly. He was also used sparingly when centers got kicked out and occasionally on the power play, finishing with a 43.2 faceoff percentage (67/155) in 73 games.

Pominville is already at 52.4% (55/105) after 14 games this season, something that assistant coach Kevyn Adams credits to him simply being a good student of the game.

“Jason is very diligent about faceoffs,” explains Adams. “He works hard after practice, and studies a lot of video. He’s also very focused in the faceoff circle; he knows what he needs to do.”

Adams said Pominville’s success is a carryover from what they started last season, and he thinks it will only get better based on the early returns.

“We started working together last year, and he’d take the odd faceoff in a game. But now this year, he’s gotten to where he’s taking a lot and he feels comfortable. He’s even comfortable in his own zone and that’s always the big test. It’s a little easier in the offensive or neutral zone. But from day one he’s been good in his own zone.”

Having spent much of the year playing on a line with Luke Adam, the two have been splitting up a lot of the faceoff duties based on their strong side – Pominville is a right shot who excels on the right side, while Adam is a left-handed shot who takes most of the draws on the left side.

Pominville is quick to credit Adams and Gaustad for his continued faceoff development

“Having Paul and Kevyn here, being able to talk about it and practice them every day, I think it’s benefitted me. It’s an important part of the game – if you want to start with the puck you need to win faceoffs.”

INJURY UPDATES: After missing Wednesday’s practice with what he simply termed as a “maintenance day,” Tyler Myers was back on the ice today and expects to play Friday against Ottawa … Tyler Ennis skated today for about 30 minutes. Ruff said there wasn’t any agility skating involved, just several laps around the ice. His status remains week-to-week.

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