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'Yotes Notes: Hanzal Among League Leaders in Face-off Success

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE – Center Martin Hanzal is winning more than 60 percent of his face-offs this season and the key, he says, has been in-depth scouting of his face-off opponents.

Photo by Norm Hall.

"This year I’m focusing more on reading the opponent and the way they play in the face-off circle, and I’m trying to do things they don’t like," Hanzal said after Monday’s practice at Gila River Arena. "I’ve been watching video of the face-offs they’ve lost and trying to do what the player who beat them has done. It’s worked so far but it’s only been 15 games. We’ll see how I do after a full season."

Hanzal ranked third in the NHL in faceoff winning percentage through Sunday’s games at 60.6 percent. Only Boston’s Patrice Bergeron (63.1) and Montreal’s Manny Malhotra (also 63.1) are better on draws.

Hanzal, 27, has improved in the face-off circle significantly over his eight-year career. As a rookie in 2007-08, he won just 46.1 percent of his draws. His career-high for a season is 54.5 percent set last season.

"Our group takes a lot of pride in our face-offs," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "Hanzal’s a big, strong guy who takes that responsibility of playing against the other team’s top players. It’s a good to sign he gets better (on face-offs) every year. That can be a big plus for his game."

Hanzal, who stands 6-foot-6, 226 pounds, said he tries to use his size to his advantage on draws.

"I try to get real low and be strong," Hanzal said. "With our system, on power plays and penalty kills, everything starts with winning the face-off. If you can win the face-off on the power play, you don’t lose 20 seconds chasing the puck to get it back. That’s huge. And on the PK, if you win face-offs you gain 20 or 30 seconds of puck possession. Face-offs are really important and it’s a big part of my job. I enjoy that."

Hanzal's Face-off Winning Perecentages:

2007-08: 46.1 percent
2008-09: 48.3 percent
2009-10: 50.6 percent
2010-11: 50.3 percent
2011-12: 52.0 percent
2012-13: 46.8 percent (48-game season)
2013-14: 54.5 percent
2014-15: 60.6 percent (first 15 games)

• Defenseman Keith Yandle is set to play in his 400th consecutive game on Tuesday when the Coyotes host Dallas.

• Yandle, who last missed a game in 2008-09, ranks second all-time on the franchise’s longest consecutive games played list behind only Dale Hawerchuk (475). Teammate Antoine Vermette has played 407 consecutive games, but not all of those game were with the Coyotes.

• Goalie Mike Smith has allowed just 19 goals on 249 shots (.924 save percentage) over his last eight games.

• Defenseman Zbynek Michalek played in his 500th game with the Coyotes on Saturday becoming the 13th player and fifth defenseman to do so in franchise history.

• Tippett is now tied with Bob Francis for longest tenured coach in team history at 390 games.

• Forward David Moss, who suffered an upper-body injury blocking a shot vs. Minnesota on Oct. 23, still is considered "week-to-week."

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