On July 1st of 2011, the Phoenix Coyotes signed 4th line centerman Boyd Gordon to a contract. Gordon came over from the Washington Capitals after 7 years in the NHL. Standing 6 feet tall, weighing in at 200 pounds, the product of Unity, SK, Canada was the 17th overall pick of the 2002 entry draft. He averaged 4 goals and 8 assists a season before coming to Phoenix where he tallied 8 goals and 15 assists. And this season, he was a plus 9. Which is amazing, because he is either the first line or second line forward out there for every penalty kill.
But Boyd was not signed for his offensive production. He was signed because in the regular season, he is the faceoff leader since the 2008 season. For the entire NHL. There was no on better than Boyd when the puck dropped over the past four seasons. Boyd finished the regular season 8th with a 56.8%. Considering that the Coyotes played with Martin Hanzal for several games and Antoine Vermette did not come until until almost the trade deadline, Boyd was counted on and delivered for the majority of the year. The Coyotes were one of the best teams on the penalty kill for most of the year. This happened for two reasons. One is Mike Smith. The other is Boyd Gordon and his ability to win the puck drop and get the puck out of his zone, forcing the opponent to come 200 feet.
Whether it is in the offensive or defensive zone and you need to win the faceoff, you don’t send in the Marines. You don’t send in Seal Team Six, you send in Boyd Gordon. His technique is what makes him so effective. Let’s break it down.
- Boyd starts out with a wide stance . Legs are almost perfectly straight with some knee bend and his weight equally distributed on the inside edges of both skates. This inside edges keeps him from being pushed backward while the knees being bent gives him the ability to push forward. Pushing forward means his momentum is captured by the opponent’s body and the opponent is doing the same to Boyd. If the forces are equal, they will maintain their current position. This gives them stability to go for the puck. If Boyd’s force is stronger, he can drive the opponent off the puck and win the draw easily.
- Boyd gets very low with his upper body while keeping his butt even lower. If Boyd is too high, the opponent gets their body under his and will drive him off the puck. Instead of pushing forward, they push up and forward. This changes Boyd’s center of gravity and moves him backwards and further erect. To counter, Boyd makes his body have a low center of gravity. When Boyd pushes forward, his opponent must match his upper body positioning or be pushed off the puck. Most centers do not get this low, so it becomes a tactical edge for Boyd. In the picture to the right, look at Paul Gaustad of Nashville. His upper body is as low as Boyd’s, but his butt is higher. Meaning, his center of gravity is higher and he can be driven off the puck. It also means his upper body is leaning down and not forward, making him slightly unstable as compared to the body positioning of Mr. Gordon. Gaustad had to change his body angle to match that of Boyd.
- Boyd’s right hand (he shoots right handed) is almost at the union of the blade and shaft of his stick. Since he is so low, he can extend his arms to the length of the stick. This keeps him low. If he stands upright, his stick will be off the ice.
- Boyd keeps his stick parallel to the ice before puck drop. This again gives him a tactical advantage. He can use any portion of his stick to keep his opponent’s stick off the puck. Their blade cannot get to the puck if his stick is covering or blocking the puck. It also allows him to move the puck backwards with ease as his stick is already on the puck. The opponent would have to either go through Boyd’s stick or lift the puck over his stick.
- Boyd drops to his knees if he doesn’t immediately win the draw. Now, his body is shielding the puck (think of rugby with after the tackle, you turn your body to your team for them to ruck the ball out). Boyd is now even lower, his stick on the ice, and he can use his body as cover to move the puck back through his legs or to the side. The opposing center has to get low to reach the puck and try to move it to their predetermined location.
Boyd should get some recognition for what he does beyond that of his team and salary. A long term contract would be a good start. From the Arizona Republic.
After the Coyotes had secured a 1-0 victory to snatch a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series with the Predators, a booming cheer erupted from their dressing room.
At the conclusion of each victory, a gaudy wrestling belt spiked with faux diamonds is awarded to the player whose contributions were critical to the victory.With a shutout, goalie Mike Smith was a natural candidate. The lone goal-scorer, captain Shane Doan, was an option, too.
But instead the hardware went to center Boyd Gordon, whose work didn’t jump off the box score but was emblematic of how the Coyotes managed to inch one game closer to a Western Conference finals berth.
Gordon had a game-high 12 faceoff wins, including one late in the third period as the Coyotes held onto a slim one-goal lead.
“Everyone’s pretty excited when it’s given away, and a guy who got it tonight deserved it,” Doan said. “He was great for us tonight. He’s been unbelievable for us.