The Blackhawks are serious about becoming a better team on faceoffs this season.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville went out and hired Yanic Perreault to work with the likes of centers Marcus Kruger, Andrew Shaw and Brandon Pirri on getting better at winning draws, and the results are starting to show.
Perreault was considered one of the best faceoff men ever during his 13-year NHL career with a winning percentage of 60.9 percent. Perreault played for Toronto, Los Angeles, Montreal, Nashville, Phoenix and the Hawks.
Until this season it was Jonathan Toews taking every key faceoff for the Hawks. Toews is way up there again in winning percentage at 57.5 percent, but he finally has help.
Kruger is at 50.8 percent while Shaw is up to 43.4 percent. Pirri still has much work to do at 41.9 percent.
"Yanic's been working with our centermen on faceoffs and we're getting better and stronger over time," Quenneville said. "You get a little more familiar with your opponents. There's a strength department element to it, there's a science to it and Yanic gives them a look at where your thought process is going into it that helps our guys.
"I think we're progressing as we go along here. Key faceoffs, especially on our power play and penalty killing, when you lead off with the puck it's a huge advantage both ways."
Perreault generally joins the Hawks on the ice as practice is winding down and spends a good 10 minutes working with the centers.
"He knows a lot about it," Kruger said. "It's a lot of details in faceoffs. He can help with that and watch tape and stuff like that. You always want to be better and win those important faceoffs."
At a recent practice, Perreault spend time working with Shaw on balance before the puck is dropped.
"He wants you to shift your weight forward, get on your toes and be ready for everything," Shaw said. "He was great when he played and he's just trying to help us get better."
Shaw admitted he never saw Perreault play.
"But I've heard a lot of good things about him," Shaw said. "I've seen his stats and he was great at what he did. He always tells me if you can win faceoffs it will prolong your career."
That's how it worked with Perreault.
"He's helping with everything: timing, positioning, trying to figure out what they're going to do," Shaw said. "You've got to go in there prepared, stay focused and get low.
"He works with every aspect of our game and critiques our game a little bit. Little by little we're trying to improve on faceoffs."
The Hawks won 60 percent of the faceoffs in Wednesday's 4-1 win over Winnipeg. Toews was a remarkable 15-2 and Shaw 3-3. Kruger was 4-6 and Pirri 6-8.
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