Connor Farrell Faceoff
Photo courtesy of Nick Ieradi.

Film Study: Evaluating Chrome’s Faceoff Strategy

By Nick Zoroya

Jul 20, 2023

Something needs to change. The Chrome LC are on a four game losing streak and in those four games there has been an obvious lack of offensive production. Despite being second in the league in faceoff win percentage (68%), the team is unable to convert those extra possessions into goals. Why? Part of the problem is the way in which Connor Farrell is winning those faceoffs. This problem has been exacerbated against teams facing off with longpoles (Waterdogs and Cannons), but addressing these core issues will also benefit the Chrome when they play teams dressing true faceoff specialists.

There are two areas of concern regarding faceoff play: immediate turnovers and burning the shot clock. Farrell is elite at winning the clamp but has proven to be a liability when carrying the ball or making contested passes. His thirteen turnovers are second in the league and wipe out the faceoff wins that they follow.

The new 32-second clock requires teams to be deliberate with the ball on a faceoff win. There is limited time to sub on personnel and even less time when Farrell wins the ball directly back to Sean Sconone. The Archers are the gold standard for maximizing clock and attacking efficiently.

It’s hard to run an offense effectively when the ball reaches the midline with 16 seconds to go. The Chrome offense needs the faceoff unit to deliver the ball to the offense third with as much time on the clock as possible. 

In order to maximize clock the ball needs to get into the right hands as quickly as possible. There are several ways to do this:

#1- Attackmen cut towards Farrell

Farrell has proven that he can win the clamp against long-stick midfielders and briefly get his hands free. An attackman streaking to his dominant hand allows for a quick entry into the offensive third.

#2- Line up a SSDM at close 

Winning backwards against a pole is easy for Farrell but he routinely passes it to the wide-open goalie. If a SSDM was at close they could cut up field immediately on possession giving Farrell a passing option that would immediately cross the midline. The Whipsnakes have employed this strategy to perfection, especially when opponents lock off the wings.

#3- Win it directly to the wings

This seems like an obvious option but teams are often locking off the wings making it difficult to employ. When strategy #2 works consistently, opponents will be forced to play off of the wings and respect the cutting SSDM. These strategies work in tandem and the Chrome can use all of them simultaneously.

Life without Farrell?

During the post-game press conference, Chrome Head Coach Tim Soudan hinted at trying new approaches moving forward. The faceoff strategy would likely be determined by the opponent.

“Well if you noticed tonight we did kind of experiment with a couple of guys that we think can take the draws for us and we're gonna have to evaluate what that looked like based on watching film and see what we do moving forward,” said Soudan.

This statement allows for speculation that the Chrome may be considering options at the stripe other than Connor Farrell. Yes he can win the clamp, but everything after that isn’t as clear. 24.5% of his touches have resulted in a turnover (most among players with 50+ touches).

The most obvious option is to use Mike Messenger more at the strip. He is a two-way threat; win or lose, he doesn’t need to sub off. He can win clamps cleanly against LSMs and SSDMs and would still be competitive against true faceoff specialists.

Another option to consider is using Jordan MacIntosh. MacIntosh was recently replaced in the lineup by Jesse King. He took over 200 faceoffs in college, and won more than half. Does his ability to take draws help him increase his role on this year's Chrome? 

Soudan wouldn’t need either player to win faceoffs at a high rate, what he needs is a player that can be competitive at the stripe but more importantly take care of the ball and move it to the offense efficiently. I think that both Messenger and MacIntosh could deliver.

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