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Faceoffs ‘killed’ Detroit Red Wings in 3-2 overtime loss to Boston Bruins

In years past, the Detroit Red Wings were known as a puck-possession team.

This isn’t breaking news, but part of what goes along with possessing the puck is winning possession of the puck — as in winning faceoffs.

The Detroit Red Wings lived and died by the faceoff circle Thursday night in a 3-2 Game 4 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins. The Bruins held a 32-27 in faceoff wins, but it was two key goals that came as a direct result of a faceoff win.

Detroit got on the scoreboard first as Pavel Datsyuk won a faceoff to Niklas Kronwall, who rifled a shot past Tuukka Rask for the early 1-0 lead.

Boston’s first goal was also the direct result of a faceoff win at the same exact faceoff dot, no less.

Patrice Bergeron beat Luke Glendening on the power play, and Torey Krug lasered a shot over the shoulder of Jonas Gustavsson to cut Detroit’s lead to 2-1.

Coach Mike Babcock commented on getting beat in the faceoff circle Thursday night, per Ansar Khan of

The faceoff circle killed us They ate us alive there. Our kids, (Riley) Sheahan and Glennie, they got eaten up in that area a little bit. They end up with the puck a lot and we end up playing D-zone coverage the most.

It wasn’t just the kids, either. David Legwand lost both of his draws against Bergeron, and Zetterberg lost his one draw against Gregory Campbell. I can give Zetterberg a pass, as he hasn’t played since the Olympics, but Legwand doesn’t get a pass.

There’s only one reason Legwand is here, and that’s because the Red Wings needed depth at center to replace the injured Stephen Weiss.

Back in the Red Wings’ heyday in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Kris Draper was a faceoff-winning machine. His best year came in 2008-09 when he won 60.3 percent of his faceoffs during the regular season.

His worst season was the very next year at 52 percent, but he was still winning the majority of his draws.

In the playoffs, Glendening is winning just 30.8 percent of his faceoffs, while Sheahan is winning just 38.3 percent.

Glendening and Sheahan are young — they’ll make mistakes, and they’ll get beat more times than not, especially when they face Bergeron, who is probably the best faceoff man in the NHL.

But this team cannot sustain success over a long period of time if they can’t continue to win more than 50 percent of the faceoffs.

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