One move coaches love to deploy is using two centers for defensive zone faceoffs. The logic here is that if one center gets thrown out (even though that rarely happens) the second center would be able to take the important defensive zone draw.
In the video below, the Panarin – Anisimov – Kane line goes out for a defensive zone faceoff. The one difference is Dennis Rasmussen is subbing in for Panarin on the wing.
This way, if Anisimov gets thrown out of the dot, Rasmussen can take the faceoff instead of Kane. So, in essence, a player with a 47% career faceoff win percentage in Rassmusen will take the draw rather than a career 40% faceoff win percentage player in Patrick Kane.
If Anisimov gets thrown out of the dot 10 times, Rasmussen would likely win 5 and lose 5 faceoffs, while Kane would win 4 and lose 6. The benefit of this coaching move is extremely microscopic. First, centers don’t get thrown out that often. Second, their faceoff win percentage is close enough that it doesn’t really matter. The overall benefit of this coaching move is extremely small, and the negatives far outweighs the positives when looking big picture.
If you watched the video, you noticed the real problem here. Rasmussen isn’t on this line in real life. This means that as soon as Chicago gains possession through the neutral zone, Rasmussen has to go off for a change so Panarin can come on the ice.
In the above play, Rasmussen finds himself with the puck in the neutral zone. He can’t advance it himself because he has to go for a change, so Rasmussen simply dumps the puck in deep so Panarin can come on the ice to form the Panarin – Anisimov -Kane line.
With the puck is dumped in, New York easily regains possession, transitions the puck up the ice, and eventually gets a shot on goal.
This coaching move of having two centers for a defensive zone draw hurts the team more than it helps the team. If Panarin was in for Rasmussen, Panarin would not have dumped the puck in, he would have attempted a controlled entry and maybe Chicago can get something going. Instead, Rasmussen has to dump the puck in so he can go for a change and the result is the opponent with possession of the puck.
The point of hokey is to prevent shots and goals. In the play above, having Rasmussen in for Panarin directly led to a shot on goal against. It was a negative play that could have been avoided.
Now this type of play doesn’t happen every time. There are times where Rasmussen can get off the ice, while Chicago still maintains possession. But the overall point of this post was to illustrate that two centers on the ice is going to hurt more than it helps.